Karaikal is part of Cavery basin and is located in the tail end portion of the Cauvery Delta. Rice cultivating Delta District with a long coastline. Total irrigated area – 10,980.16 Ha. Karaikal is endowed with extraordinarily diverse and distinctive traditional waterbodies found in different parts of the district commonly known as ponds, tanks, lakes which are an inherent part of the society in local culture and serve a variety of purposes. Nearly 1/3rd of them are associated with temples as theerthams. They play an important role in maintaining and restoring the ecological balance. They act as sources of drinking water and irrigation, recharge groundwater, control floods, support biodiversity and tourism, and form part of cultural & religious values besides providing livelihood opportunities to a large number of people.
Sources of Water – Karaikal District
The main source of water for Karaikal District are Cauvery Water from Mettur Dam, Monsoon rains (North East Monsoon, South West Monsoon & Summer Rain) and traditional Ponds / Tanks / Wells / Lakes.
Rivers, Canals and its branches in Karaikal
Karaikal is drained by seven tributaries of Cauvery as detailed below and the receipt of Cauvery Water through them depends on the release of water from Mettur Dam.
All these rivers confluence into the Bay of Bengal. A network of canals branches out from these rivers to feed the irrigation channels and ponds. Major / Minor River canals – 593.589 Kms and Total irrigated area – 10,980.16 Ha.
Ponds, Tanks, Lakes & Wells in Karaikal
In Karaikal, traditionally, surface water storage is emphasised. Surface flow system or water bodies have sustained the Karaikal agriculture and acts as a bulwark against salt water intrusion. Karaikal District do not have many lakes or large ponds. But there are around 549 ponds / tanks as per the survey of Revenue and Agriculture Department which is huge in numbers for a small district with 160 sq. kms area. These waterbodies had proper inlet and outlet interconnected by network of irrigation channels with cascading plan for draining of water: One pond fills – overflows – next pond fills – overflows and so on. For Centuries, these water bodies played a vital role in ensuring water security to Karaikal and surrounding areas and were once the main source of water for bathing, cultivation and other purposes. In urban localities ponds work as source of drinking water, absorption of flood water and a conduit for ground water recharge. There were considerable number of wells, which were once the source of potable water for public.
Due to urbanization, most of the wells have been closed, except a few wells, which stand as a mere land mark. There are No major lakes / large ponds except the recently installed artificial Lakes:
(a) Nallambal lake – 77.64 Acres
(b) Chettikottagam lake – 15.22 Acres
(c) Padutharkollai lake – 35.43 Acres
(d) Mini lake at Polagam – 12.956 Acres
(e) Tank at Polagam – 15.459 Acres
(f) Kazhugumedu lake – 9.884 Acres
But failing monsoon and insufficient release of water from Mettur Dam, these waterbodies could not store water.
The groundwater study by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and the Agriculture department has marked the district as “Safe”. In recent times, the non availability of surface water in recent times has resulted in groundwater being used as a supplementary source. Competing demands from agriculture, businesses, and communities are putting a strain on water resources. Population growth, rapid urbanization, an upward looking economy and rising standards of living and massive exploitation of ground water for irrigation has lowered per capita water availability. This will lead to change in surface water dynamics of the UT and Karaikal District.
Irregular Monsson Rains
During the recent past, the North-East Monsoon was irregular and below-normal rainfall recorded during the years, 2012 (Drought), 2013, 2016 (Drought) and 2018. Average Rainfall for Karaikal District is 1388.50 mm. The data for last six years are given below:
2013 – 1019.9 mm
2014 – 1356.7 mm
2015 – 1717.8 mm
2016 – 730.4 mm
2017 – 1858.0 mm
2018 – 1256.5 mm
Though it looks the average rainfall is achieved in few years, it may be noted that the rainy days have decreased drastically and rain density increased (Heavy downpour within short period of time). In Heavy downpours, storage of water and recharging groundwater is not possible. To avoid flooding, the water is released into the Bay of Bengal.
Insufficient receipt of Cauvery Water
Further, the realization of cauvery water through all distributaries at Karaikal is very much less than the Final Award of 7.000 TMC awarded by the Cauvery Water Tribunal Authority
2013-14 – 5.532 TMC
2014-15 – 3.068 TMC
2015-16 – 2.899 TMC
2016-17 – 0.051 TMC
2017-18 – 1.058 TMC
The water is released to Karaikal only when there is a flood-like situation in Tamil nadu and is not regulated and received as per approved plan.
Climate Change – Increase in Temperature
During the last three to four years, the summers in Karaikal is very much hotter and heat waves could be felt due to climatic change. In the recent “Gaja” cyclone, thousand of trees have fallen in the District and its effect being felt in during 2019 summer itself. Average temperature during May 2019 has reached an all-time high of 37°C and increase by 2°C than the usual average of 35°C.
Climate Change – Decrease in Summer Rainfall
The average summer rainfall for Karaikal during January to May is as follows:
January – 39.1 mm
February – 33.1 mm
March – 17.7 mm
April – 16.1 mm
May – 42.7 mm
Whereas, in 2019 only 14.2 mm was received during all these months (Jan to May). And this too was received in a single day during February. No rainfall during other months.
Increase dependency on Ground Water
Increase use of groundwater as a supplementary source for irrigation and commercial purposes. Competing demands from agriculture, businesses, and communities resulting in lowered per capita water availability
1901 – 1960 m3/year
2025 – 600 m3/year
2025 – 224 m3/year (Projected)
Source: Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) Report for UT of Puducherry
Need for Govt. Intervention
There is acute shortage of water in major ponds in Karaikal District during last few years. Most of the ponds are dried. Considering the situation, during last year, the Commissioners were directed to ensure that no water was pumped out from the ponds, irrespective of its ownership, to keep the available water for public as well as cattle use. PWD, Commune Panchayat restricted public water distribution time. In some areas potable water was arranged through tankers. The percentage of green grass for cattles is deteriorating rapidly. Prolonged and continuous neglect of maintenance of waterbodies, encroachments in the tank bund, foreshore, water-spread and supply channels, deforestation in the catchment for urbanization & housing, use of tank beds as dumping yards and thus silting of tank beds and choking up feeder channels requires serious attention by concerned authorities.
Traditional water bodies and their upkeep
Water is a prime natural resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. Water as a resource is indivisible; rainfall, river waters, surface ponds and lakes and ground water are part of a single unit, which needs a holistic and efficient management to ensure their long-term quality and availability. Water bodies serve as storage reservoirs of water in monsoon dependent areas where there exist a shorter period of rainfall and a long dry spell with very high deviation of annual rainfall. Also, traditional water bodies are used in rural areas which, inter-alia, include various purposes, viz. domestic, drinking, irrigation, horticulture, etc. There is an imperative need to ensure proper, efficient and sustainable management and development of water bodies all over the country through sustained inputs of efforts, funds and programme primarily by the Government (Both Central and State) and secondarily by individuals, groups, institutions and local bodies.
Replenishing Water bodies: The Strategic Plan
It is of utmost importance for meeting the rising demand for water augmentation, improving the health of waterbodies as they provide various ecosystem services that are required to manage microclimate, biodiversity and nutrient cycling. Traditionally, water was seen as a responsibility of citizens and the community collectively took the responsibility of not only building but also of maintaining the waterbodies. This needs to be brought back into the system.
Cities and Towns may not run out of water if urban planning engages more critically with the city’s terrain, along with propagation of knowledge about the local history of lakes, meaningful community engagement and ownership of waterbodies. It is at this point and as part of the nation wide programme “Jal Shakti Abhiyan”, the Karaikal District administration launched – #NamNeer_Karaikal” #நம்நீர்காரைக்கால் on 3rd July 2019 in Karaikal District.
Nam Neer – Objectives
The following are the objectives of Nam Neer programme:
- Comprehensive improvement and restoration of water bodies, thereby increasing tank storage capacity,
- Ground Water Recharge,
- Increased availability of drinking water,
- Improvement in agriculture/horticulture productivity,
- Improvement of catchment areas of water bodies commands,
- Improved water use efficiency and conjunctive use of surface and ground water,
- Community participation and self-supporting system
- Capacity building of communities, in better water management,
- Development of tourism, cultural activities, etc.
The mission Nam Neer focuses on better management of cauvery water and rainwater by digging, cleaning and de-silting ponds and wells that have traditionally stored water. The objective is to enhance the development of Minor Irrigation infrastructure, strengthening community based irrigation management in a decentralized manner and to adopt a comprehensive programme for restoration of tanks and sources of water to effectively utilize cauvery water and rainwater.
The NamNeer_Karaikal – Target driven Pond Rejuvenation Programme:
A taskforce and a water augumentation cell was formed in Karaikal District to urgently identify, dig-up, de-silt and restore village and town ponds so that they can be ready to brim with Cauvery water and rain water expected during upcoming monsoon season 2019. Apart from the ponds, it was also decided to de-silt the rivers, canals and its branches so that the Cauvery water reaches various ponds in different villages. The initial target was set as 100 ponds and 50 kms stretch of canals and its branches for repair, restoration and rejuvenation before 30.09.2019.
GreenLung_Karaikal – Intense Afforestation Drive:
A major Intense Afforestation Drive under #GreenLungKaraikal #Plant2Prosper programme was also started alongwith Nam Neer Programme with the forest department joining hands with local bodies, industries, education and agricultural departments, social forestry. The idea is to plant local species. Plantation of saplings at designated spots along the bunds of the ponds, roads, in schools, colleges and universities in and around the city is being carried out simultaneously to increase the green cover of the district.
The district administration plans to take up the afforestation drive in three phases and the recently held was the first phase, where upto 24,700 saplings were planted in various locations. In the second phase, termed multifunctional agro-forestry system, the district administration would plant saplings of timber trees, fruit bearing trees in clusters with proper fencing through CSR funding. The third phase will involve plantations along the beaches and urban localities.
A target of planting 50,000 tree saplings by the year end of 2019 is planned by the District Administration.
Best Practices & Innovative Interventions:
Name Neer is essentially a “Partner in Restoration (PIR) Program”. The district administration planned to run the Nam Neer programme as a mass movement on the lines of the cleanliness drive pitching for the conservation of rainwater and called for support from Government employees, non-governmental organisations, academics, experts, elected representatives, government departments and the community to tack-up the challenge. The main focus was to involve the public and make it a community based activity.
The District Administration sought to build and develop a funding and permitting framework to facilitate the voluntary adoption and rejuvenation of ponds and canals. The role of District Administration was limited to provide technical support and issue of No Objection / clearance with a Pre-condition that De-silted sand should be used to construct the bunds and no sale of sand was allowed. Payments to contractor were directly made by the adopting agencies / departments / individuals / groups etc. Funds received under CSR was forwarded to implementing departments viz., SDSD, Thirunallar and Karaikal Municipality with instructions to use them by adopting usual Government procedures.
The conservation efforts are supplemented by IEC activities through awareness campaign activities by NSS / SHGs / Nehru Yuva Kendra / Social media, line departments to promote efficient water use. Also the aquifers, and ponds and water bodies that may have been encroached are also cleared during the Nam Neer programme. Gram Sabha meetings were conducted in all communes and the proposed plans were discussed with the villagers. Farmers were motivated to co-operate. Farmers Meet conducted by the district administration was used as a platform to disseminate the idea and inputs from farmers were obtained. All India Radio, print and television media, public functions and school and college events were used to address the issue on daily basis. Social media viz., the district Face Book page, whatssapp group, twitter handles were effectively utilised to spread the message.
The integrated approach for participation of several stakeholders was done during the course of Name Neer Programme. Tank de-siltation, restoration of the feeder channels, re-sectioning of irrigation channels, repair of bund, weir and sluice, raising of FTL (Full Tank Level) wherever required were carried out.
Employee Social Responsibility (ESR): An appeal was made to all the Government Servants of Karaikal District to adop a pond for rejuvenation. To start with the officers and staff of Colelctorate adopted Vaathu Kulam at Keezhakasakudy Village. Soon various departments adopted different ponds. This proactive approach provided the much needed impeteus for the programme and various merchant communities, commercial establishments, community organisation in Karaikal followed-suit and started adopting ponds for rejuvenation.
Temple Social Responsibility (TSR): Karaikal is known for large number of temples and a number of ponds belonging to the temple function as theerthams and play a major role in retaining ground water table. All the temples were instructed to adopt ponds for rejuvenation. Shree Dharbaranyeswara Swamy devasthanam, Thirunallar which is a mjor tmple in Karaikal District adopted 30 ponds under TSR.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Private agencies, corporations, industries, community organizations in Karaikal was involved in the Nam Neer programme.
Convergence: Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), at least one traditional water source per village is being readied for the monsoon by the Block Development Office. The SHGs under NRLM/NULM were engaged to spread the message in the villages and are entrusted to monitor the ponds for its continuous maintenance.
For the Intense Afoorestation programme, the applicants of Cracker Sale Licences were asked to plant a specific number of tree saplings in schools and colleges. The Petrol Bunk owners were asked to plant tress in public spaces, parks and beaches. Under ESR, the departments were asked to plant trees alongside the ponds. The colleges with hostels and major restaurants have been addressed to use the treated grey water to water the crops. The possibility of deploying automated drip fertigation system has also been insisted.
Monitoring and Sustainability:
A major component in the sustainability of the project depends on the monitoring of the restoration, by local community. Once water is stored in the ponds, potential pollution from household drains, sewage disposal, septic tank overflow may raise new problems. Local inhabitants often tend to dispose the solid waste near the pond areas. In order to ensure the revived ponds stay healthy, Pond Maintenance and Solid Waste Management Plan has been worked out by the District administration wherein involvement of the community in each village or town is focused. For this purpose, NSS / SHGs / Nehru Yuva Kendra volunteers and local volunteers are being identified to act as lead monitoring unit for the project. They will be trained to keep a watch on the activities that affects the water quality and report the same to concerned authorities in case of deterioration.This will ensure that the restored ponds will continue to fulfill multiple social and ecological services to sustain life for agriculture and groundwater restoration.
Outcome of Nam Neer Karaikal:
The ESR opened the flood gates for the Nam Neer Programme. Officers and staff working in various Government Departments in Karaikal district adopted a pond in different communes of Karaikal under Employee Social Responsibility (ESR). This proactive approach provided the much needed impeteus for the programme and various merchant communities, commercial establishments, community organisation in Karaikal followed-suit and started adopting ponds for rejuvenation. The major industries adopted canals under Corporate Social Responsibility. Shree Dharbaranyeswara Swamy Devasthanam (SDSD), Thirunallar adopted 39 ponds in and around Thirunallar Temple Town under Temple Social Responsibility (TSR). The Block Development Office, Karaikal played its part by rejuvenating ponds under MGNREGA.
With the resounding success and active participation of various stakeholders the target was achieved within 30 days and the district collector revised target upwardly from initial 100 to 150 ponds and initial 50 kms of stretch of rivers and canals to 60 kms.
Nam revised target has also been achieved within the stipulated time frame. So far rejuventation of 178 ponds in karaikal District has been completed.
||Rejuventation of Ponds
||To be taken
|Employee Social Responsibility (ESR)
|Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
|Shree Dharbaranyeswara Swamy Devasthanam (SDSD) Thirunallar
|Department / Scheme Funds (MGNREGA / KVK)
Apart from the ponds, work is also in progress to desilt 65,000 mtrs of canals and its branches. This target has also been achieved. So far desilting of 80,910 mtrs of major canals has been completed by various industries under CSR Scheme. The approximate expenditure incurred by the all agencies is around Rs. 55.00 Lakhs.
||Length of channel desilted (In Mtrs.)
|M/s Kals Pvt Ltd, Karaikal
|M/s Vaigai Industries, Mela Kasakudy
|M/s Karaikal Chlorates, Melakasakudy
|M/s Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., Kurumbagaram
|T. R. Pattinam
|M/s Karaikal Port Private Ltd, Vanjoor
|M/s Praveen Chem Industries, Vanjore
|M/s Chemplast Sanmar Ltd., T. R. Pattinam
|M/s Jothi Laboratories Ltd, Thirunallar
|M/s Regma Ceramics Ltd., Thirunallar
|M/s Prism Johnson Ltd, Thirunallar
|Shree Dhrbaranyeswara Swamy Devasthanam, Thirunallar *(TSR)
|Karaikal Town – M/s Gail India Ltd, Karaikal
|Karaikal Town – Ln. Shri. Balakrishnan, Karaikal
Under GreenLung_Karaikal programme, so far 24,700 tree saplings have been planted. The total target of 50,000/- tree saplings are proposed to be planted in the district in the next two phases.
|PWD (I&PH) River Banks, canal banks, pond bunds
|PWD (B&R) Govt. hostel premises, GH, Stadium, Govt. buildings
|MGNREGA Pond bunds and village public spaces
|Employee Social Responsibility (ESR) Pond Bunds and respective offices
|Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)Chemplast-300, Port – 500, Jothy Labs – 800, Karaikal Chlorates – 200, Vaigai Chlorides – 200
|Cracker Licence Applicants
|Public / community organisations / political parties
|CSS – Education Department in schools and adopted villages
|Local Bodies (public parks, beach, roadsides etc)
|Total plantation completed
The intervention helped in increasing the storage capacity of tanks and other water bodies. Increase in storage capacity of tanks and other water bodies. The Water level has increased by an average of 3 metres (10 feet) in various locations of Karaikal. This is drastic increase when compared to 10 year data. Comparison of Long Term Water Level Trend in Karaikal District (2002 – 2012) indicates a maximum rise (m/year) which ranges from 0.34 to 0.39 m/year. But during current year, that too within 3 months (June to September), the water level has increased by 3 metres. This will recharge the groudnwater to great extent.
With the de-silting work already carried out, the district is ready to store 1 tmcft of water in its waterbodies including the rejuvenated ponds and nallambal lake. It is bound to help in making water available and accessible to small and medium farmers in particular and benefit other farmers as well. The intervention will help in increasing the water retention capacity of the sources and also play an important part in improving the on-farm moisture retention capacity thereby increasing the agriculture productivity. Other expected outcomes of the programme are development of fisheries and livestock and rise in the ground water levels in that area. The increase in plantation of trees will increase the green cover, decrease the carbon foot print and combat climate change in Karaikal District.
Key Takeaways of Nam Neer Karaikal:
- Participatory approach can help is judicious use of resources and help in long-term sustainability of the interventions.
- Restoration and maintenance of water resources should be a continual process and local people should be trained to manage their resources.
- It is important to shift from rain dependent farming to harvesting and storing rain water and using it efficiently to cultivate crops
- Engagement of communities in the implementation process reduces the need for government support, makes the program self-reliant and ensures social sustainability.