The Periyar-Vaigai project (India) : - a geographical appraisal of water resource development Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/q811kp01v

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  • The Periyar-Vaigai project is one of the important water resource developments in South India, designed and constructed in part during the last decade of the nineteenth century, to accelerate the growth of the economy of Madras state. A noteworthy feature of this project is that the waters of the westward flowing Periyar river has been diverted to flow eastward for use on the east sloping plains of Madurai. The Periyar dam project which actually diverts the water was completed in 1896. The Vaigai regulating dam and reservoir were additions, finished in 1959, to provide better control and thus more efficient utilization of the water. The thesis study begins with a descriptive statement of the macro-physical environmental complex - the terrain, hydrography, and climate - in which the project developed. It is followed by an appraisal of the pre-Periyar resource utilization, covering the people of the area, pattern of settlement, and cropping and irrigation systems carried out on a precarious land. An analysis of daily rainfall data for a 30-year series, 1931-1960, is made to indicate the need for the project being considered and accomplished. The entire project is then described as a single unit, including a brief historical account of its inception, the inter-state agreement; and finally the physical project that consists of the Periyar dam that impounds the Periyar waters in the Periyar lake, the tunnel through which the water is led to Suruliyar, and the dam and reservoir on Vaigai. The details pertaining to the two main canals of the system, Periyar Main Canal and Tirumangalam Canal, as well as the land irrigated by thern are given. The impact of the project is considered in terms of utilization of water, changes in land use, and increased production, limiting the appraisal to the five taluks in Madurai district. A case study of Jothimanickkam village and Farmer John Veeramani Thevar from this village is further used to illustrate the impact of the project. As a result of the project, the average area cultivated has increased by 22% percent; but, even more important, the water has given essential cropping stability to approximately a third of the cropland of the locale. Prior to the project, when the cultivation depended on the rainfall of the locale, the net produce per acre ranged frorn 8 to 12 bags of paddy. After the completion of the project, the yield increased to 22 bags per acre, due to the assured supply of water. Thus , as a result of the Periyar-Vaigai development, the average farmer is now able to produce more than his family needs; and the tenant farmer, after paying the landlord's share, is able to feed his family and even make a small profit on his surplus produce.
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