Thoothukudi Farmers Suffer from Salinity (Download PDF)

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Thoothukudi Farmers Suffer from Salinity

  • Padukkupathu village in Tamil Nadu՚s Thoothukudi district is facing a severe salinity problem.
  • The condition is such that houses are locked, farmers have been abandoned, coconut trees are barren and markets have been deserted.
  • Padukkapathu Gram Panchayat (GP) has five villages under it and the registered population of Padukkapathu GP is 2,000.
  • But only 700 people live here as on March 2020.


  • Due to salinity problem, the farmers have shifted to cities such as Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore for work.
  • The problem is of saline water progression.
  • The process in which salt water invades areas containing fresh water, resulting in salinization of groundwater is called Saline water progression.
  • When groundwater becomes saline, crops also get affected.
  • Coconut farming has remained a main source of livelihood for the residents of the districts till early 90s.
  • In 1994, the trouble began. Farming became vulnerable to salt water incursion due to use of groundwater for irrigation.
  • Salt water intrusion further increased as water pressure reduced due to decrease in rainfall.
  • The district collectorate is 70 km away from the village and the block office is 18 km away.
  • Due to the large distance of collectorate and block office also, the GP has been neglected.
  • The Santhankulam block of the district was termed ‘semi-critical’ in terms of groundwater, according to Central Ground Water Assessment Report 2017.
  • The agriculture has become an unviable practice due to the dryness of the region.
  • Even before the agriculture started in the region, the region was semi-saline.
  • To address the salinity problem of the region, the government had promised to release water from Manimuthar dam located 80 km away from the block.
  • The invasive species sucks groundwater and inhibits growth of native species which contributed to groundwater depletion. The species was planted in 1960 to overcome firewood shortage.
  • The Gram Panchayats of Azhagappapuram, Pallakurichi, Kamadikotti, Periyathalai, Thattarmadam and Mudalor are also facing the similar problem
  • The salinity has affected the coconut farming also.
  • In months of October, November and December, the situation becomes a little better, as the district receives rainfall during these months.
  • There is need to manage water in an effective and efficient manner.
  • In the rainy season Thamirabharani river gets overflown, but irrigation channels and water recharge structures remain dry in the region.
  • Connecting village with the Thamirabharani river via Kannadian channel can offer some relief.
  • Thamirabharani is the only perennial river originating in Tamil Nadu.
  • The flood water carrier Sadaineri Extension channel needs to be widened to offer some respite.
  • The suggestions about the above steps had been overlooked in Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

- Published/Last Modified on: April 28, 2020

Environment/Ecology, Down-to-Earth

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