A public interest litigation petition filed before Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday sought a direction for construction of check dams across Vaigai river so as to conserve water and effectively handle water scarcity.

The petitioner, P.S. Suresh of Madurai, an agriculturalist from Karupatti village, said he depended on water released from the Vaigai for irrigating his fields. However, due to failure of monsoon, the flow in the Vaigai had dropped drastically leading to water scarcity. Non-availability of water had affected agriculture much. Even groundwater, which was relied upon following scarcity in the Vaigai, has depleted, he said.

But, ironically, every year around 120 TMC of water from the State was wastefully discharged into the sea. There was no proper mechanism to harvest rainwater and flood waters in the State. Check dams would help in storing water and also raise groundwater level. Though some check dams were constructed across the Vaigai, most of them were not maintained properly.

With the early onset of north-east monsoon, Moola Vaigai had received heavy rainfall and resulted in flash floods at various places. The authorities must be prepared to face emergency situations and strengthen the existing check dams on a war-footing, he said and sought a direction for construction of additional check dams and maintenance of the existing once in order to effectively handle the water crisis.

Hearing the plea, a Division Bench of Justices T. Raja and Krishnan Ramasamy directed notice to the Public Works Department of the Periyar Vaigai Basin.

The case will be taken up for further hearing on October 5.

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