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India: A game-changer for parched Perambalur

May 20, 2013

Farm ponds being built in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) programme is expected to prove to be a boon for farmers in this the perennially parched district.

A total of 1000 farm ponds have been allotted to the district, which suffered an over 50 per cent loss in crops last year owing to water scarcity.

Alarmingly low rainfalls in 2012 drove farmers to despair in this predominantly agrarian district that ranks at the bottom of the state’s GDP list. As against the norm of 908 mm, the district received only 608 mm of rainfall, ravaging all major crops, including cotton, maize and small onions.

This year too rainfalls have been scanty—just 37 mm, so far.

According to the District Collector Darez Ahmed almost 90 per cent of the cultivated areas have suffered a loss of more than 50 per cent. The State government has allocated Rs 62 crores as compensation for 1.8 lakh acres.

“The farm ponds would fulfill not only drinking water needs but also recharge ground water. To strengthen the rainwater harvesting system, proper catchment areas are being identified and farm ponds created,” said Saraswathi Ganesan, project officer, District Rural Development Agency. Of the 1,000 farm ponds allotted, 618 have got administrative sanction.

The 15 X 15 metre pit ponds, costing Rs 1.5 lakhs each, will spring up across the district, especially in areas dominated by SC/ST, marginal farmers and small farmers with holdings of less than five acres.

The programme would enable small farmers to not only build new ponds but also stabilize minor irrigation tanks and deepen existing ponds, supply channels and other waterways all under MGNREGA. The Rs-7-crore programme is expected to create 4.78 lakh man-days of work for which, Ms. Ganesan said that more than 1.21 lakh households have been registered and about 1.18 lakh job cards issued.

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