Cleaning of Tamirabharani to begin tomorrow

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The district administration is all set to launch a programme from April 23 to clean the Tamirabharani and remove encroachments along the river course.

Though the river had been cleaned on various occasions, the latest drive will be started in the upstream and then coming down.

 The initiative, ‘Thooya Porunai; Nellaikku Perumai’ (‘Pure Tamirabharani; Pride of Tirunelveli’), is organised as an integral part of the ongoing ‘Nellai Neervalam’ (Tirunelveli Water Resources) activities, which was launched recently to clean the water bodies in the district to improve irrigation and groundwater table.

Moreover, the need for conserving the Tamirabharani that gave birth to ancient civilization at Aditchanallur, Sivakali, Korkkai etc. was highlighted during the recently held ‘Porunai Nellai Book Fair’ also, which elicited rousing response from the public, especially from the school and the college students.

 “The objective behind conserving this sacred river is to improve the water quality of Tamirabharani substantially from current ‘bathing quality’ to ‘drinking quality’ through scientific interventions and citizens’ sustained and active participation. Hence, there will be no compromise in checking the hitherto uncontrolled flow of domestic and industrial sewage into the river anymore,” District Collector V. Vishnu, who is spearheading this initiative, told ‘The Hindu’.

 Besides cleaning the banks of the river and liberating it from encroachments, the discharge of domestic and industrial effluents into the river from Papanasam to Marudhur check-dam (for about 62 Km) – will be completely stopped.

  The Collector has drawn a unique model of creating four pilot Socio – Ecological Observatories at four locations which will act as watch points for water quality monitoring as well as hub for cultural / heritage activities. Zero plastic zones along the river bank will be created to promote bio alternatives in convergence with ‘Manjapai’ (yellow cloth bag) movement recently launched by the State Government.

 “Engineering interventions and nature-based solutions we’ve planned to put in place at various places along the watercourse will ensure zero sewage discharge into the river,” Mr. Vishnu assures.

How To Achieve Objectives:

 Following requests from the district administration and the Department of Forest, the Kaani Tribes, the first beneficiaries of Tamirabharani River, have agreed to keep their areas cent per cent plastic-free. For removing the encroachments and checking the discharge of drainage into the river, the 62 Km-long stretch between Papanasam and Marudhur check-dam on the Tirunelveli – Thoothukudi border has been surveyed by drones and GIS mapped to identify the challenges.

 Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTP) have been set-up at Vickramasingapuram and Ambasamudram, which are now operational, prevent dumping of human waste from the septic tanks.

 Since the encroachments have been identified through drone and GIS mapping, eviction of illegal structures – both permanent and temporary – has already been commenced through the local bodies situated along the Tamirabharani watercourse.

 “While the thorny bushes along the watercourse are being removed during this cleaning operation, afforestation is done with the tree saplings being supplied by the Department of Forest. The saplings thus planted as part of this drive will be taken care of by the local citizens, especially by the student volunteers. Cultural activities to highlight the need for conserving Tamirabharani will be organized in sustained manner by the students and cultural troupes in identified spots on the river bank,” the Collector said.

To ascertain the results of this operation, water quality will be monitored continuously by the Socio Ecological Observatories. As the Tamirabharani enters Tirunelveli city, ‘Smart City’ initiatives will focus on protecting this river too besides creating basic infrastructure facilities in the city.

 “Convergence of all government departments, civil society, non-governmental organizations, representatives of political parties are being involved in this noble cause. We’ve partnered with ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment) to provide their expertise also,” Mr. Vishnu said.

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