How Rs 1800 cr Athikadavu-Avinashi project will tackle water needs in Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the project in Tiruppur on Thursday, around 62 years after the project was first proposed.
How Rs 1800 cr Athikadavu-Avinashi project will tackle water needs in Tamil Nadu
How Rs 1800 cr Athikadavu-Avinashi project will tackle water needs in Tamil Nadu
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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the Athikadavu-Avinashi drinking water supply-cum-irrigation scheme in Tiruppur. The project, which aims at managing the water resources in the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu, will be built at an estimated cost of around Rs 1,800 crores.

The project aims to divert the surplus water of Bhavani river to the lakes, ponds and other water bodies in the drought-prone regions of Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode districts as a boost to their ground water tables.

Around 1.5 tmc of surplus water will be pumped from the Kalingarayan anicut and used to fill the 32 tanks of the Public Works Department, 42 tanks of the Panchayat unions and 971 ponds in the three districts.

What is the Athikadavu-Avinashi Project?

River Bhavani, a tributary of Cauvery, is a perennial river that rises in the Nilgiris. The river reaches Pillur dam before joining Cauvery in Erode district in Tamil Nadu and continues its journey to drain into the Bay of Bengal. Bhavani river majorly flows through Coimbatore and Erode districts and is a major resource for irrigation in West Tamil Nadu.

The Bhavani river is fed by the rains received mainly during the southwest monsoon, which causes the river to swell during June-September season and flood its banks. Though Pillur dam and Bhavanisagar dam help in avoiding high water flow in the river during monsoon, more often than not, the dams also reach full capacity, leading to flooding downstream due to the shutters being opened.

In order to avoid flooding and wastage of water due to dams reaching full capacity, the Athikadavu-Avinashi project was proposed in 1957 by the then MLA of the region Marappa Gounder. Since then, various parties have promised the implementation of the project in their election manifesto, but the scheme failed to take off on ground.

Who will benefit from it?

The project is expected to fulfil drinking water and irrigation needs of more than 35 lakh people living in and around Tiruppur, Erode and Coimbatore districts including Annur, Avinashi, Sevur, Kunnathur, Perundurai, Kangayam, Uthukuli, and Nambiyur areas.

Recent developments

In 2016, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa assured that the project will be completed soon. In 2017, the project underwent some changes and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said it will be completed in 30 months. Rs 250 crore was allocated towards the project in the Tamil Nadu state budgets for the years 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively. 

In 2019-20 budget, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam announced an allocation of Rs 1,000 crore to the project and also added that a solar-power project worth Rs 132.8 crore will also be set up as a part of the scheme.

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