(Eds: Adds CM's quotes, details) Pudukottai(TN), Feb 21 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the first phase of the Rs 14,400 crore Cauvery-Vaigai-Gundar river interlinking project, aimed at diverting over 6,000 cubic ft of surplus water to drier areas in southern districts, billing it as another pro- farmer initiative.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, along with his deputy O Panneerselvam, kick-started the first phase, to be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 6,941 crore, at Kunnathur in this district, taking part in the 'bhumi puja' (ground breaking ceremony).
Speaking on the occasion, Palaniswami said that while many had apprehensions over work starting on the project, awaited for a century, 'today the government has fufilled a 100-year old dream.' It was his government's yet another initiative to benefit the farm sector, which he said was the 'spine' of the country and on which over 65 per cent of the population was dependent for a livelihood.
By initiating 'a 100 year-old dream project of the public, our government has earned the goodwill of the people of Karur, Tiruchirappalli, Puthukottai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram,' he said in his address at the function.
The 262 km-long project envisages diverting surplus water in Cauvery to Gundar river through a canal and the first of the three phases will cover about 118 km, the government said, adding Cauvery, South Vellar, Vaigai and Gundar rivers will be interlinked in this major intra-state water project.
Upon completion, 6,300 cubic ft of surplus water realised during flood times will be diverted and will help in increasing groundwater in southern districts and also meeting drinking water requirements.
Tiruchirappalli, Pudukottai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram and Karur will gain from the initiative as over 1,000 lakes and one lakh plus acres of land in these districts will benefit, the government said.
Palaniswami also laid the foundation stone for renovation, modernisation and expansion of irrigation infrastructure on Cauvery sub-basin, to be taken up at Rs 3,384 crore and benefitting Tanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai districts.PTI SA VS VS