Nilgiris under the shadow of drought


UDHAGAMANDALAM: Nilgiris district, which used to receive torrential rain till two decades ago, has turned into a parched district, thanks to the endless ravishing of its Shola forests.

Water is now in short supply. District Collector Supriya Sahu had said recently that the main Parson Valley Reservoir has only 10,56,000 mlgls against its full capacity of 42,50,000 mlgls. The next important town in the area, Coonoor, has already been declared water-starved, she had said.

Its main source of water, the Rallier Dam with a capacity of 17.50 lakh gallons, has dried up. The only way to overcome this crisis is to adopt austerity measures and conserve water resources.

With all signs of a failed monsoon emerging, the district administration has warned citizens about a possible drought.

Nilgiris district has five rivers -- Kundah, Pykara, Bhavani, Moyar and Punnampuzha -- running through it, yet water is a scarce commodity here. The reason is embarrassing: The water storage facility built in Ooty by the British almost 100 years ago was subsequently ill-maintained by successive municipal authorities. For the last two decades now, water management has been in poor shape.

But for the timely execution of the Parson's Valley Scheme in 1968 by then Collector A.S. Ahulwalia, there would have been a mass migration of people from here.

Now, the Parson's Valley Scheme has everything except water. In the Nilgiris, water resources are tapped from natural sources like rivers, streams, swamps and water holes. Sadly, these things have been neglected, resulting in the onset of dry days.