The SokkanOdai canal system in Tamil Nadu was almost silted and defunct, mostly due to the 2004 Tsunami and 2015 unprecedented floods, also due to neglect. Siltation and almost complete erosion of bunds rendered the large area of paddy fields on either side of the canal flood prone as there were no other ways of draining out the excess water.
The condition of the canal was getting worse every year and the community was not in a position to take up the massive work of desilting as their livelihood and economic conditions were already deteriorated.
Mr Valiayapathy, a farmer in the canal ayacut, and other farmers could not ensure crop maturity as the water carrying capacity of the canal was reduced to about 10%. Burdened with debt due to crop failure and unable to find alternate livelihood despite owning a few acres of land, farmers migrated to cities and neighbouring states and worked as labourers.
Farmers like Mr Sivanesan left farming and became taxi drivers, or worked at construction sites.
VA Tech WABAG, under its sustainable CSR practices, ensured livelihood for 250 farmers through restoration of traditional irrigation system at Killai Village, Chidambaram Taluk, Cuddalore District in Tamil Nadu partnering Hand in Hand India, a public charitable trust.
This project aimed to restore traditional irrigation through structural renovation in Sokkan Odai with the objective of facilitating sustainable crop production in both flood and drought situations. The interventions included channel de-silting, deepening and widening wherever necessary, providing pipe outlet – inlets on the canal banks, formation of sunken ponds for water storage and bio mass production on the canal banks.
The project was the brainchild of Agricultural Engineering Department and was entrusted to WABAG by the then Collector, Thiru TP Rajesh Kumar, I.A.S. It has been successfully implemented and dedicated to the Killai farmers at a special function on 23rd February 2019. This has brought about a remarkable change in the underground water level and also marked improvement in the economic health and environmental aspects of Killai village.
WABAG CSR intervention benefited around 250 Killai farmers covering 350 hectares of farmland across six villages. Owing to the restoration, there has been a reverse migration to the village and 20 acres of land that were lying fallow for the last 5 years, have been brought under cultivation.
The restoration comprised de-silting of 4.3 kms. stretch through channel de-silting and excavation of 19716 cu.m. of silt, installation of 64 pipe outlets on channel banks; 10 dug-out sunken ponds for water storage, planting of Vetriver as soil binders and biomass plantation (gliricidia) on the channel banks.
Ensuring Project Sustainability
As part of Sustainability Plan, SokkanOdai Conservation Committee has been formed consisting of beneficiary farmers to ensure the upkeep of the canal with the technical guidance of Hand in Hand India. The Committee will maintain a separate bank account towards the contributions from the farmers for this purpose.
WABAG presence in Cuddalore District
This is the 4th CSR project implemented in Cuddalore District – two major projects before CSR law came into force and two after the legal mandate. Soon after the Tsunami tragedy, WABAG designed, built and donated a drinking water treatment plant at MGR Thittu, Killai village to meet the urgent drinking water needs of the Killai village.
WABAG in partnership with an Austrian NGO, built a Community Centre at Mudasalodai village. In July 2017, based on the assessment, WABAG renovated two major tanks in Adivarahanallur and Thethampattu villages, Cuddalore District as Watershed Development Plus projects for the benefit of the villagers.