Coimbatore: Rain fails to fill Valankulam tank

Only restoration of flow in two canals will help the water body fill during North-East Monsoon

COIMBATORE: Stray cattle graze on it, boys play cricket on it and huts are put up unauthorisedly on what is supposed to be a major water resource in the city – Valankulam.

Only a few small pools of water interspersed on the north-eastern side of the railway line remind people that this was once the tank that kept the ground water level high in Ramanathapuram, Race Course and areas around Tiruchi Road.

One of the eight major tanks in the city, the present condition of the 160-acre Valankulam can give a water resource conservationist the most severe heart attack. A tank that can hold 17 million cubic ft (mcft) of water is mostly bone dry.

TANK IN DISTRESS: The sordid state of Valankulam, a major water body in the city. – Photo: K. Ananthan

TANK IN DISTRESS: The sordid state of Valankulam, a major water body in the city. – Photo: K. Ananthan

Just a km away, the 320-acre Big Tank at Ukkadam is full to its capacity of 70 mcft.

Water from River Noyyal during the South West Monsoon filled the Big Tank. But, the surplus water from this tank did not flow to the Valankulam through a three-km link canal as the canal was clogged with debris and garbage.

Siruthuli, a public initiative to conserve water resources, says the Valankulam could have filled up in just a day if the surplus water had flowed from the Big Tank.

Another major reason was that the flow to the Big Tank itself was stopped at Selvapuram.

Water from River Noyyal reaches the Big Tank through the three-km Coimbatore Canal from the Coimbatore Anaicut.

But, the canal sluice was shut during heavy rain this year as a backflow into LIC Colony at Selvapuram led to protests from the residents. Waste water from Selvapuram flows through a drain to the canal.

But, when there is heavy flow in the river, the backflow causes stagnation of rain water and waste water in the colony.

Now, Coimbatore expects more rain from the North-East Monsoon. Water has to flow through this canal to Big Tank if this water body and the Valankulam have to fill up, Siruthuli points out.

The dry tank is only encouraging slum dwellers to put up more huts on the tank, it says.

A Rs. 20-lakh plan drawn up now suggests another drain to take the waste water to the river instead of the canal.

This line can bypass the canal so that the water way and the tank it fills will not have waste water.

As for the Big Tank-Valankulam link at Ukkadam, the district administration, Public Works Department, the Coimbatore Corporation and Siruthuli have hammered out a solution: constructing a culvert at Rs. 9 lakh.

A sizeable portion of the funding will be done by the Government under the Nammakku Naame Thittam. While the PWD carries out such works, the Corporation seems to be willing to do it, according to official sources.

At present, there is a thin flow of water from Big Tank to Valankulam after the Corporation removed 25 lorry loads of debris recently from the link canal.

But, the proposed culvert and regular flow in the Coimbatore Canal are seen as a permanent solution.


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