by Admin On 26/02/2014 - 11:02 AM
Vaigai dam, across the Vaigal River was built in the late 1950s. It is the starting point of a multipurpose project that provides irrigation water to thousands of farmers, drinking water to several thousand households, 6 MW of hydropower and facilitates inland fisheries and tourism.
To say that Vaigai Dam is a lifeline would not be an exaggeration. While the Vaigai River across which it is constructed was always a part of the lives of the people of Madurai, Dindigul and Theni districts in Southern India, it was the dam when constructed in 1959 that made it possible to put the water to good use. The dam was envisaged as part of a multipurpose project to develop agriculture in the region through irrigation, take care of the drinking water needs of the Madurai and Theni districts, provides 6 MW of hydropower, facilitate inland fisheries and tourism. Under the project water in the Vagai River was augmented by diverting water through tunnels from Periar in Kerala. The reservoir created by the construction of Vaigai Dam now impounds about 58,000 cubic ft. The farmers in the area are totally dependent on the water releases from the dam to cultivate more than forty five thousand acres of land.
Although the dam itself is about 70 km from Madurai many visitors to the city drive out there to see the 106 foot high structure and to spend a few quiet hours relaxing in the park area below the dam. The best time to visit the site is after the monsoons when the water level is high and the seven flood gates of the dam are open with the water gushing out in vast plumes. Even after many years in operation the release of water from the dam is still a celebratory event for farmers and officials alike who drop flowers onto the gushing water. This is the signal to commence the cultivation season and the release of water is coordinated with the distribution of agricultural inputs to farmers. The importance of the dam to those living in the area is illustrated by how newsworthy the water level of the dam is. Newspapers in Tamil Nadu keep a vigilant eye out and report the increase in water level during the South West Monsoon. Although the riverbed below the dam is not much of a spectacle in the dry months, the lake formed by the impounded water behind the dam is always a pleasant sight.