The Uyyakondan canal, which runs almost in the middle of Tiruchi city, is in full flow. It should be adding beauty to the city by this time. But, the quickly spreading water hyacinth plant has not only invaded the canal but also slowed down the flow, thereby causing concern to farmers and residents.
The canal, which takes its flow from the Cauvery, originates from the river near Pettavaithalai and traverses about 72 km up to Vazhavanthankottai tank. Said to be 1,000 years old, it was built by Raja Raja Cholan and renovated by Kulothunga Cholan and irrigates 32,000 acres of land in Tiruchi and Thanjavur districts. It feeds 36 wayside tanks.
The Public Works department (PWD) spent ₹15 lakh in August last to clear the water hyacinth. But, it has reappeared again. The fast-growing aquatic plant has invaded the canal right from Kuzhumayi Amman Temple to Palakarai and Thiruverumbur in the city limit. It is said the hyacinth is seen largely occupying the canal for about 12 km. It continues to proliferate at a rapid speed.
The canal, which was opened for irrigation about two weeks ago, carries 620 cusecs of water. But, the residents could not enjoy the beauty of the canal brimming to its capacity due to invasion of water hyacinth. Since it is floating on the water, they cannot see the flow.
While farmers express concern that it is affecting the free of flow of water in the canal, residents feel that it is preventing the beauty of flow of water in the canal. A section of residents living along the canal complain that the plant is facilitating largescale breeding of mosquitoes, thereby depriving sound sleep.
Koundampatti R. Subramanian, deputy secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, says the canal is the main source of irrigation for about 32,000 hectares in Tiruchi and Thanjavur districts. Water has not reached some of the tail-end areas even after 12 days of opening it. The invasive species that have spread in some parts of the canal is preventing free flow of water. Hence, PWD officials should take speedy steps to remove them.
When contacted, a senior PWD official said it had launched a drive to weed out the invasive species along the canal. The issue was confined only along the city stretch of the canal. The operation would be expedited.