APRES LE CLASSEMENT DE LA VALLEE DE LA RIVIERE TAMIRABARANI COMME RESERVE A TIGRES EN 1992, CE COURS D'EAU D'UNE GRANDE IMPORTANCE HISTORIQUE ET CULTURELLE DU SUD - OUEST DE L'INDE, QUI AVAIT PERDU SA VITALITE ENTRE 1946 ET 1990, A VU SON DEBIT PASSER PROGRESSIVEMENT DE 4000M3 à 7000M3 ENVIRON... Son exemple sera probablement suivi pour la rivière Vaigai...
The Times of India (Chennai), ce jour. P. Oppili (TNN). "Tamirabarani teaches : saving tiger is saving river".
CHENNAI: After Kalakkad-Mundanthurai was declared tiger reserve in 1992, river has regained its perennial status.
Though shorter than Cauvery and Vaigai, Tamirabarani has always held a special place in the state. Referred to in ancient texts including the Mahabharata, legend has it that Tamirabarani is where saint Agastya wrote key texts of the Tamil language.
Robert Caldwell, British linguist and missionary, recorded its importance in the 1880s. At the same time, a British collector of Tirunelveli (then Tinnevelly), R K Puckle, warned that large-scale clearing of forests in the Kalakkad area would result in the river losing its perennial status.
Nearly a hundred years later, it seemed the state was going to prove Puckle right. Tamirabarani started turning dry for four months every year. People of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin thought their river too was going the way of other state rivers.
But help came: A move to save the tiger inadvertently became a savethe-river policy. The Union ministry of environment and forests declared the Kalakkad - Mundanthurai area as a tiger reserve in 1992.
This meant human movement into the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) would be restricted. Declaring the area as a tiger reserve and keeping it out of bounds for tourists, casual visitors and cattle grazers not only helped the tiger population to rebound but has helped to keep water sources alive and functioning throughout the year.
The protected shola forests have a sponge effect by storing rainwater and releasing it. The soil layers, vegetation and the peat bed all help to keep the river perennial.
In three years, there was a noticeable change. A study on water inflow into the Karayar river, a tributary, inside the reserve was taken up.Records show that from 1946 till 1990, the river received only 13,000 cubic feet of water annually . After the area was declared as a tiger reserve, the inflow increased to 23,000 cubic feet."This is continuing even today ," said the official.
Declaring a tiger reserve not only restricts human movement and development activities, but also requires the government to declare buffer zones outside the core forest where development is regulated.This also helped the river rejuvenate. Wildlife officials formed eco-development committees through which forest dwellers were given alternative jobs. The programme was launched in 178 villages but was later extended to 243 villages around KMTR. Now 34,000 families are getting the benefits - this means they have stopped going into the forest to collect minor forest produce.
Tamirabarani is the main source for drinking and irrigation in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts.The water is also taken through pipelines to Sivakasi, Virudhunagar and Srivilliputhur.
While the river's source has been protected, repair works would need to be carried out along the river's course.There are about eight anicuts (diversion structures) on the river that require immediate restoration for effective use of the water. PWD has taken up a project to lay a new canal linking Kannadian anicut to drought-prone areas of Sathankulam and Thisaiyanvilai, but more such projects need to be taken up, say experts. Check dams and recharge wells will also need to be built to rejuvenate groundwater table.
Tamirabarani's success story can potentially be replicated in Vaigai. As a first step, the area from where the river originates, known as "Moola Vaigai' in the Western Ghats in Theni district, has been declared a wildlife sanctuary .
The next step is to announce the sanctuary as a tiger reserve, which will restrict human intervention. A proposal has been sent to the government in this regard, says a wildlife officer.
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