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