The district of Tirunelveli is one of the greenest places I have seen in Tamil Nadu thanks to the numerous irrigation tanks and dams. I have heard that these tanks and dams capture the water efficiently so much so that the river almost dries out as it reaches its mouth in the Bay of Bengal, a fact which I noticed while carrying out a survey project of tanks all along the river Tamirabarani. Although it saddened me, I tried to find consolation in the fact that if not for these tanks, the area would lose its greenness and thousands of people their livelihood.
But today, apart from the river, the tanks too are under grave threat. As I carried my survey, I noticed tanks covered with the weed Ipomea carnea and some of them choked with Eichornia crassipes and Pistia. In earlier times the village assigned duties of tank maintenance to a village person called `Neerkattis' who would regularly check and maintain the tanks. This has vanished after PWD took on the tank maintenance. In most tanks both silt accumulation as well as garbage dumping is rampant. Only those tanks which are leased out for fishing are maintained well by the contractors. Though the locals complained about the bad status of these tanks and blamed the government for it, no one wanted to take up the responsibility of maintaining it. Can tanks rejuvenate, if community based institutions were vested with governance? Decentralised goveranance of natural resources had mixed response, but might be worthy to experiment at a pilot scale.
Volume 5, Issue 1
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salegame
A S H O K A T R U S T F O R R E S E A R C H I N E C O L O G Y A N D T H E E N V I R O N M E N T
Wetlands along the Tamirabarani
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