Former Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi will remain etched in the hearts of people of this arid and drought-prone district as long as they quench their thirst with Cauvery water – thanks to the combined Cauvery drinking water supply scheme, the brainchild of the late leader.
Though the average annual rainfall of 83 cm is not much less compared to the State average, the district faced acute drinking water problems as the rain water quickly dried up in the predominantly clay soil and the need for a stable source to address the woes became crucial.
As the groundwater available in the coastal areas is saline in the depth beyond seven metres, the district administration kept its fingers crossed and Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board stood helpless when Mr. Karunanidhi, after assuming office as Chief Minister in May 2006, came out with the Rs. 616-crore ambitious project.
After the foundation stone was laid in January 2007, the government finalised the contracts by September with TWAD Board as executive agency. The project of this size would take three years but Mr. Karunanidhi announced gold medals if the officials completed it in two years.
He had deputed his son and Minister for Local Administration M.K. Stalin to personally monitor the progress of the project and the officials too responded overwhelmingly and completed it in a record 18 months. The people of the district shed tears in joy when Mr. Karunanidhi commissioned the project on June 11, 2009, through video conferencing from the Secretariat.
Mr. Stalin was present at the function here and opened the tap to permanently address the district’s drinking water problem. “We have no words to express our gratitude to the great leader. If we are getting drinking water despite failure of north-east monsoon it is because of the project,” M. Somasundram, an advocate, said.
Keeping up his words, Mr. Karunanidhi presented gold medals to TWAD Board engineers, appreciating their good work. The project envisaged drawing 78 million litres per day (MLD) of water from four collector wells at Mutharasanallur in Tiruchi district, about 280 km from here. “This should be one of the best drinking water projects in the State,” a TWAD Board official said.
Water is pumped from the wells up to Alavayal in Pudukottai district and drawn to Ramanathapuram using gravitational force. “This is the beauty of the project,” the official said. Even when the north-east monsoon failed in the last three years, the district administration successfully tackled the drinking water problem, thanks to the project, he added. Cauvery water is supplied to people in four municipalities, seven town panchayats, 11 panchayat unions and 2,306 habitations through 92 sumps.
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