With the Union Government refusing to pay heed to Tamil Nadu'sChief Minister M. Karunanidhi'srepeated appeal for treating certain rivers of the country as ?national rivers? or at least link the Peninsular rivers, the state government has proposed to link the state rivers in order to ensure higher volume of irrigation waters for the fields and drinking water for the people.
This obviously is a desperate move, because all said and done, there is actually only one large river in the state, the inter-state, Cauvery river, which has sizeable flow, among the 17 rivers the state has. Of the others, the Vaigai is the next large river, watering the Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts, although its waters come mainly from the Mulla Periyar river in Kerala through the Periyar Dam. Another river worth mentioning is the Tamirabarani (Tampraparni) which flows through the southernmost districts of the state and sometimes causes floods in the Tirunelveli and the Tuticorin districts.
The Vaippar, further south of the Vaigai, could have become another Vaigai, if only the national inter-linking project was taken up and if Kerala had not blocked the implementation of the Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar link which would have a similar impact like that of the Vaigai in the areas south of the Madurai district. So this avenue too is closed.
Does that mean that Tamil Nadu will remain eternally drought-stricken except the Cauvery Delta areas? The answer to this question is in negative. There is abundant water available for transfer to Tamil Nadu without affecting the local needs if the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments can come to an agreement to utilise water going waste every rainy season to the Bay of Bengal. The reference is to the monsoon flows in the Godavari river.
Let us quote in this connection two prolific writers on water resources issues from Puddukottai district of Tamil Nadu. One is P.M. Natarajan, the second Shambu Kallolikar. P.M. Natarajan was connected with the Institute of Water Studies, Thanjavur while Shambu Kallolikar was the Collector of the Puddukottai district about six years ago. He is an I.A.S. officer. They had said:
?The mighty Godavari river ran berserk in August 1886 and during this period the peak flood discharge to the sea about 36 lakh cusecs (cubic foot per second) or 311 tmcft (thousand million cubic foot)?Ten hours of such flows could have been enough to irrigate the entire Cauvery Delta in Tamil Nadu for full one year and fill up the Stanley reservoir at Mettur 1.5 times which is equal to about 150 tmcft??
The issue here is of utilising for irrigation and other purposes a part of the water going waste to the sea. (the Godavari goes ?berserk almost every monsoon). According to the theme paper on five decades of water resources development in India, 1998, quoted by these two writers, the average annual potential of the river basins in India is 1869 bcm (billion cubic metres} while the utilisable volume is 690 bcm. Therefore, the average annual wastage of water that goes to the seas without being utilised is 1179 bcm. In case of the Peninsular rivers (south of the Tapi river basin to Kanyakumari in the west and from the Mahanadi to Kanyaakumari in the east, is .482.60 bcm or 17,043 tmcft. The writers claim that the volume of water unutilised and going waste into the sea from the Peninsular rivers is 244.02 bcm (8617 tmcft). Tamil Nadu will require only a fraction of this huge volume.