Madurai: Plan to retain water in temple tank

Cement bottom of four smaller tanks to be replaced with clay and sand

MADURAI: The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is considering experimenting with a new method to retain water in its Golden Lotus Tank.

The experiment contemplates replacing the cement bottom in the four smaller tanks of the Golden Lotus Tank with two feet of clay and one foot of sand and assess whether this would prevent seepage of water.

R. Padmanaban, Executive Officer of the temple and Joint Commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department, said here on Tuesday that this method would be used for the entire tank if the experiment turned out to be successful. Preliminary work for this experiment had already commenced, he said, adding that the results of the trial runs would be observed for a couple of months before contemplating replicating it. The temple would seek the support of private donors for this purpose. It was also prepared to execute the venture with its own funds, if necessary, he said. At present, the cement bottom of the tank is unable to prevent seepage of water. However, clay will be able to help retain water.

The Meenakshi Temple has also received a Rs. 40 lakh-proposal from the Madurai Corporation for filling up the tank with water.

Under this proposal, the civic body has assured providing three lakh litres of water every day. This proposal has been sent to the HR and CE Commissioner for approval. The temple and Madurai Corporation will equally share the total project cost of Rs. 40 lakh. While the Corporation will source the water from the Vaigai, the temple has been asked to bear the electricity charges for pumping the water. However, if the experiment were to succeed, the temple might need three lakh litres only once in 15 or 30 days thereby conserving water and expenditure, said Mr. Padmanaban.


A canal that has gone off track in Madurai

A weak track will be an invitation to disaster

MADURAI: The ‘crossing’ commences early in the morning. It lasts late into the night. Students, workers, commuters and elderly people from residential areas take these narrow lanes at the back of TVS Nagar, climb up the Madurai-Tirumangalam railway track, get down on the other side and get into a dingy alley to reach the arterial Tirupparankundram Road at Palanganatham. In between, several trains cross the track.

OBNOXIOUS:Sewage water stagnating near T.V.S.Nagar Railway line in Madurai. — Photo: S. James.

Ever since the work of construction of a subway linking the TVS Nagar Road with Palanganatham Junction was taken up, leading to the closure of the road, people have been frequently taking this short but very risky route to reach the nearest Palanganatham bus stop.

The path once taken to reach Palanganatham in a hurry has turned into a routine. Besides two openings, a third path has been created by bringing down a fence on the TVS Nagar side. Those driving two and four-wheelers prefer the nearest Alagappan Nagar and a little circuitous Jaihindpuram Main Road to reach the Tirupparankundram Road. The problem does not end here.

People climb up the track, look to right and left and at the signals and climb down. From three openings on the TVS Nagar side, they enter the alley which provides room for just one person to walk through. The cement slabs, which barely cover the sewage line that occupies a major portion of the length of the alley, provide a peep into the waste – plastic and organic – that goes down the drain. Most of the slabs are broken and a missed step results in a damaged knee.

The drain, which snaked its way parallel to the track, has been blocked at two places now, in view of the construction work. As a result, there is a huge pool of sewage abutting the railway line. The vent, which once allowed passage for surplus water from the Madakulam tank to reach Kovalan Nagar, is chocked with garbage.

The drain used to be a storm water and surplus water carrier not very long ago. It has degenerated into a drain, recalled K. Chandrasekaran, a resident. After crossing the Tirupparankundram Road, it branched off into two. While the main canal ran up to Avaniapuram, the sub-canal went to Kovalan Nagar. The water that flowed in the canal was meant for irrigation. The flat bed of the defunct water carrier has been encroached on both sides, creating an alley. The drain carries the waste generated by the food joints, business establishments and marriage halls that do not have a link to the underground drainage on Tirupparankundram Road.

A walk down the alley is not only risky but also nauseating. The foul smell generated by the drain is unbearable. In the absence of any lighting, women using the passage in the night are at risk. The walls on both sides are so high that even a shout would not attract attention on any side.

The added problem of the drain is proliferation of the mosquito population in the area. Residents on one flank of the railway line complain of a mysterious fever striking them. But a graver threat is to the railway line itself. “Water stagnation for a longer period will weaken the ballast support for the track. Worse will be the situation during monsoon season,” said N. Vaidyanathan, former Joint Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, a resident of TVS Nagar. A weak track would be an invitation to disaster. Over 20 express trains pass through the track daily, many of them during night or early morning. But they are now operated at slow speed due to the construction work and this enables the people crossing the track to wait.

Many people, including children and the aged, use the narrow concrete platform on both sides of the track to reach home or school. At high speed, a miscalculation in crossing the track will mean threat to life.

S. Annamalai – From THE HINDU

Sound and light show at Meenakshi temple

Rs. 1.76 crore sanctioned for the purpose

MADURAI: Preliminary work for establishing a sound and light show at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here has commenced with North Adi Street being chosen as the location.

A sum of Rs. 1.76 crore was sanctioned for the purpose in the State budget, according to R. Padmanaban, Executive Officer.

He took charge on Thursday from R. Sudarshan, Joint Commissioner (Madurai Region), Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, who was holding additional charge.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said the show would be in English and Tamil and could be for 30 minutes. It would focus on the temple history, architecture, sculptures and its significance.

A short documentary film on the Meenakshi temple has been commissioned by the HR and CE department.

“The film would focus on the rituals and festivals being performed for the deity. As foreigners are not allowed inside sanctum sanctorum, they can learn about the rituals from this short film.

A projector would be installed inside the temple premises to show this documentary in the evening hours,” he informed.


A similar initiative was undertaken at Sri Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, for which Mr. Padmanaban was the Thakkar before joining here. The Meenakshi temple would become second temple in the State to have a short film to be taken with Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram likely to be third.

Speaking about other works under way, he said that estimates were being prepared for constructing a marriage hall at Ellis Nagar at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.

A Rs. 23-lakh estimate for replacing cracked stones at the Veeravasantharayar Mandapam near the East Tower of the temple has been sent to the State Government.


He said that the Rs. 40-lakh renovation work for kumbabhishekam of Muktheeswarar Temple, a sub-temple of Meenakshi Temple, would be completed in two months. Modernisation and other electrification works under way at the Thousand Pillar Hall Museum of the Meenakshi temple, for which Rs. 1.55 crore was sanctioned by the Tourism Department, were nearing completion.

The temple’s Icon Centre at Sellur, which would house all unprotected idols from in and around Madurai Region, would be completed in a month.


While the Public Works Department, which is constructing the Centre, had contributed Rs. 28 lakh, the Meenakshi temple had pitched in Rs. 7 lakh.


Sinking water table and stinking drainages

MADURAI: Rows of colourful plastic pots, waiting to be filled up with water from hand pumps. Worn out water tankers racing ahead of schoolgoing children. These scenes are very common in residential areas along the banks of the now bone-dry Vaigai. The frequent power shutdowns notwithstanding, people residing so near, yet so far from the city are not able to pump groundwater to their overhead tanks. The water is too meagre and too hard.

BONE-DRY Vaigai —Photo: S. James

The groundwater table has shown a progressive decline over the years in Madurai due to various factors. The major factor is the demise of its water bodies, from where concrete structures have sprouted. The disappearance of water carriers and encroachment of the surviving water bodies have ensured that there is inadequate percolation of rainwater.

According to a City Development Plan prepared by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, the city’s population is expected to touch 12.82 lakh in 2011. The city can take pride in having one of the oldest underground drainage systems in the State that came into existence between 1925 and 1948. But much water has flowed down the Vaigai since then and the flow has now stopped. At present, an estimated 50 to 60 million litres of waste water is generated in the city daily. A major portion of this water is either let into the ground or the Vaigai or subjected to improper treatment at inadequate facilities. There are even reports of sewage water getting mixed up with drinking water in areas like Karpaga Nagar in K. Pudur. Till the ongoing underground drainage work is completed and the water treatment plants start functioning, the quality of groundwater is going to be abysmally low.

The groundwater available at several places in the city and suburbs does not conform to Indian Standard Specifications for Drinking Water (IS: 10500), according to a study made by Madurai-based Enviro Care India. In many places, the hardness and total dissolved solids (TDS) are more than two times the desirable levels. The worst affected places are residential areas not properly served by underground drainage. The hardness of water around the many urinals dotting Madurai is very high.

Absence of flow in the Vaigai, discharge of waste water into the ground and failure to recharge and replenish groundwater are the main reasons for the current state of affairs, according to S. Rajmohan, Managing Director, Enviro Care India, who conducted the study in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry in March 2010.

The steps required to improve the quality of ground water, which remains unfit for human consumption now, are a proper sewage treatment system and improvement of rainwater harvesting system. The Koodal Alagar Perumal Temple tank on Town Hall Road is an example of neglect. After putting a rain water harvesting system in place, the tank is always filled with garbage and rainwater. Dr. Rajmohan insists that properly treated waste water can be re-used productively.

It is estimated that 14,000 litres of water can irrigate one acre of land. The recycled water can be used to develop a green belt around the city, water plants in gardens and even to raise crops, he points out.

According to the study, the highest level of TDS (against the desirable level of 500 milligrams per litre) is in Industrial Estate, Kappalur (4,400), followed by K. K. Nagar (2,970), Avaniapuram (2,580), Villapuram Housing Board (2,430), Tirupparankundram (2,060) and New Vilangudi (2,010). Beyond 500 milligrams, water can cause gastro-intestinal irritation.

S. Annamalai From THE HINDU

New eco-tourism policy offers much promise

Focus on creation of environmental awareness among all age groups

MADURAI: The new Eco Tourism Policy of Tamil Nadu, made public by the Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on June 7, promises to provide a new dimension to tourism in the Temple City.

The 50-page document, which envisages major role for local communities in promoting their localities, will focus on creating environmental awareness among all age groups, especially youth.

PLACE OF ATTRACTION:A view of Kutladampatti waterfalls in Madurai district. — Photo: S. James.

The Department of Tourism will work with the Forest Department in identifying a shelf of eco tourism projects. A nine-member official committee, headed by Chief Secretary, will be formed to monitor the implementation and coordinate various stakeholder agencies.

Of particular importance is that the policy would accord priority to develop places closer to existing popular destinations and lesser-known eco tourist spots so that infrastructure development will be kept at bare minimum.

Two places that readily fit the bill are the Kutladampatti Waterfalls, located about 40 kilometres near Vadipatti in the district, and Alagarkoil, about 20 km from here.

A reserve area under the Forests Department, the Kutladampatti Waterfalls is located in a secluded location of the national highway to Dindigul. Harbouring tonnes of potential, the picturesque location can become a major site provided a few amenities are ensured.

A tourism stakeholder in the city says the place needs a watchtower for security reasons as it is an isolated spot. Dressing rooms and other basic amenities should also come up.

K.P. Bharathi, programme leader, Tourism for Development division, Dhan Foundation, says the usual perception of eco-tourism need not remain confined to the much stereotyped hill stations and beaches. The serene village atmosphere, its rich culture, heritage and undisturbed nature could also be packaged well.

Madurai has many places such as Thenkarai and Tiruvedagam near Sholavandhan which would attract foreign tourists.

The nine places having Jain monuments in the district can also be promoted well as they are all located in calm locations.

“Local people participation is a must for sustainable development of tourism in these areas as they have to show interest to make the project a success,” he adds.

K. Muralidharan, GM, GRT Regency Hotel, and a member of Travel Club, says the new policy can help develop villages as ideal eco-tourism destinations. However, infrastructure such as good accessible roads, conveyance and parking facilities have to come up first.

“Madurai and the surrounding regions stand to benefit from this policy. Even local residents can come to know of hitherto unknown places and visit them. Lesser known tourist spots can now be brought under the spotlight,” he says.

Sairam – From THE HINDU

Rain Relief indeed for Madurai, Erode

RESPITE ON A HOT DAY:A man braving a heavy downpour to reach home as seen in Anna Nagar in Madurai on Friday evening. - — Photo: G. Moorthy


Periyar Dam Water Level: Sunday, Feb 28, 2010

MADURAI: Water level in the Periyar dam on Saturday stood at 109.90 feet (full level 136 feet) with an inflow of 47 cusecs and a discharge of 225 cusecs.

The level in the Vaigai dam was 37.70 feet (71 feet) with an inflow of 54 cusecs and a discharge of 60 cusecs. The combined Periyar credit stood at 580 mcft.