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Session14: Sustainable water resources management 
and water resources policy/Coastal Ecosystems 

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Chairman: Dr. Devashish Kar

Rapporteur: Sreekantha

Applying Ecology in Restoring Tanks  under Tank Rehabilitation Project

Sachudha V. and Sharma C.B.S.R.


Pondicherry  used to have 87 tanks and 600 ponds. Yet the area  under surface  irrigation  has reduced  from  6,700  ha  in  1970  to an insignificant  level  now due to urbanization, poor maintenance  and  exploitation  of ground water.  Consequently the tanks have fallen  to  disuse necessitating an assessment of their ecological resourcefulness as to evolve strategies for their conservation and development. 

Bahoor  tank  is a 12-century old man-made wetland. The  soil  is Clay  or  Sandy-clay.  The tank irrigates about 1740 ha  for  over  4 months facilitating Fodder, Fish, Firewood, Fruit, Nuts and shoreline forestry. But the poor maintenance of the tank and Bore  well  usage rendered  the  tank  redundant while  excessive ground  water  usage depleted  water  table and provided space for salt  water  intrusion.  Cheap electricity and liberal subsidies encourage this excess. Lifting power and other subsidies and reviving traditional irrigation systems and rainwater harvesting are directly correlated. 

The 5-year Tank Rehabilitation Project at Pondicherry has  started in  1999,  with an Rs 41 crore financial aid from the  European  Union involving  a Project team, Local NGOs and Tank dependent  villagers. Melparikkalpet tank with an ayacut of 47ha is taken for study  during 2000. The objectives here are: Agriculture production, Ground  water   recharge,   Community participation,  Bund  strengthening, Supply channel desiltation, Sluice and Weir repair, Plantations,  Fisheries, Training for crop and water management. 

Habitat quality and biodiversity will be studied so as to identify resources and determine the value of the wetland for conservation and   development and serve both environment and people.

Address: Salim Ali School of Ecology and Environmental Sciences,
Pondicherry University, Pondicherry 605014