Palar River


Palar is a river of southern India. It rises in Nandi Hills, India in Kolar district of Karnataka state, and flows 93 km in Karnataka, 33 km in Andhra Pradesh and 222 km in Tamil Nadu before its confluence into the Bay of Bengal at Vayalur about 100 km south of Chennai. It flows as a Guptagamini (underground course) for a long distance only to emerge near Bethamangala town, from where, gathering water and speed, it flows eastward down the Deccan Plateau. The cities of Ramanaickenpet, Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Vellore, Melvisharam, Arcot, Walajapet (Anaicut), Kanchipuram, and Chingleput are located on banks of Palar River. Of all the total of seven tributaries, the chief tributary is Cheyyar River.


Controversial Dam

Andhra Pradesh Government is constructing an irrigation dam across Palar at Ganeshpuram, near Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh which has caused agitation among the people of the five northern districts of Tamil Nadu, namely Vellore, Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Thiruvallur and Chennai benefited by the river. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha voiced her opposition to this proposal and said "Palar is an inter-state river and was also one of the rivers mentioned in Schedule A annexed to the 1892 agreement - cite_note-3 which is in force as per Interstate River Water Disputes Act 1956. As per a clause of the agreement, the upstream state should not build any new dam or any structure to obstruct, divert, or store waters of the rivers without the consent of the downstream state".

The average rainfall in entire Palar river basin is low. This river basin used to suffer from frequent droughts. However, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have mitigated frequent recurrence of droughts by developing innumerable minor and medium irrigation tanks. This has improved the availability of water for surface as well as ground water irrigations. As per the wet land atlas of India, the manmade says that wet lands are covering extensive area (3% to 5%) in the districts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu covering Palar river basin. The Palar basin in Andhra Pradesh is not well covered by wet lands, which implies that the river water usage in Andhra Pradesh is not up to the mark when compared to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In the year 1892 when the Palar waters agreement was made, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were part of then Madras Presidency. The 1892 agreement on Palar river water sharing is presently applicable between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh since the boundary line in Palar river basin between Madras Presidency and Mysore kingdom is presently part of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh states.




A documentary called "En Peyar Palar" produced by Social Action Movement and Water Rights Protection Group, Chengalpattu and released on 30 June 2008 chronicles the plight of the river from its origin in Karnataka till it joins Bay of Bengal. The 85 minute documentary delves into how activities such as sand quarrying and discharge of industrial effluents are sucking the life out of one of Tamil Nadu’s prime sources of drinking water. It was directed by R.R. Srinivasan.

This River is so important for irrigation in the north and south Arcot districts of Tamil Nadu, but it flows a meager of 50 km in Andhra Pradesh, the Palar river had been seen dry for almost 20 years. Palar has been home for mud robbery and other illegal activities.


Description: File:Source of Palar.jpg

Source of Palar at Nandi Hills




Inlet channels along Palar course blocked, say experts

WATER TABLE UP: The Palar river on the right and the Cheyyar river on the left. — Photo: A.Muralitharan

TAMBARAM: The unprecedented rain may have caused all round havoc, but for residents of southern suburbs of Chennai, it was good news as water sources on the Palar river have been replenished.

For close to 10 Lakh residents of the southern suburbs of Chennai, the Palar has been the important source of drinking water for more than two decades now. The Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board has sunk wells in Vengudi, Palayaseevaram, Melacheri and Villiambakkam. Officials said water had come up to ground level and that they would be able to maintain supply of five million gallon litres a day to the various local bodies under the Alandur-Pallavaram Combined Water Supply Scheme.

However, water not flowing on the river below the Palar Anaicut at Arcot is causing concern.

Originating in Nandidurg hills in Karnataka, Palar enters Tamil Nadu through Andhra Pradesh and is rain-fed. There was heavy rain during the South West Monsoon in Karnataka (that includes Palar's catchment areas).

Though there is an impression that the Palar was full of water, it is actually the water drained by the Cheyyar that joins it at Palayaseevaram near Wallajahbad. The water drained into the Palar from the Cheyyar joins the Bay of Bengal near Kadalur village, Sadurangapattinam, off the East Coast Road.

Zero flow upstream

The reason for the zero flow upstream from Palayaseevaram is water from the Palar Anaicut is diverted to fill up 317 tanks and lakes (including Kaveripakkam and Dusi Mamandur, among the biggest in Tamil Nadu) with a storage capacity of 10,000 million cubic feet. As of now, water diverted from the Anaicut has filled up close to 300 lakes and tanks, officials said.

 Irrigation tanks

Between the villages of Dusi and Mamandur is one of the largest irrigation tanks in Tamil Nadu.

Aptly called the Dusi-Mamandur tank, it has a water spread area of 13.5 Sq.Km. and a capacity to store 180 million cubic feet of water.

This tank is believed to have been constructed in the seventh century A.D. in the reign of the famous Mahendravarman I.


Pointing out that the purpose of the Anaicut was to divert water into the tanks and to discharge surplus water downstream, activists ask if there was no excess water despite the unprecedented rainfall in the past two months.

That Palar river is now bone dry despite the heavy rain in its catchment areas proved only that inlet channels draining water into this river all along its course were blocked or had completely vanished.

They point out that Palar was the only major river in Tamil Nadu that did not witness flooding this season.

Calling upon the State Government to take urgent measures to find out the causes for this, the activists — who undertook a detailed study — said unless it was done, the river, already plundered due to sand mining, would soon die a natural death.

P. Viswanathan, convener, Chitlapakkam Residents' Coordination Committee, said the Government should examine the possibility of constructing a checkdam on the Palar at Palayaseevaram to store water that drained into the sea. Further, the possibility of linking the Cauvery and the Palar should be considered.

Surplus flow

Surplus flow from the Ponnaiyar could also be diverted to the Cheyyar river that had become more dependable, Mr. Viswanathan suggested. During acute water scarcity, it would benefit farmers in downstream areas near Palar river apart helping the residents of the southern suburbs of Chennai, he added.

Senior officials of the Public Works Department said the amount of water realised after the construction of a checkdam at Palayaseevaram would be "very marginal" and that a checkdam at Vayalur was already proposed.



Palar water not sufficient for southern suburbs

K. Manikandan

Tapping alternative sources of supply could hold the key to solving shortage

  Water available now at four to five metres depth

  Quality of Palar water "was better"

SOURCE OF SUPPLY: The Palar is a key source of drinking water for lakhs of residents in the southern suburbs of Chennai. A view of one of the infiltration wells at Pazhayaseevaram near Wallajahbad in Kancheepuram district. — Photo: A. Muralitharan

TAMBARAM : Tapping alternative sources and integrating them with Chennai city's water supply schemes could hold the key to solving the shortage in the water-starved areas of the southern suburbs of Chennai. Activists and officials feel that the de-linking of Alandur, Pammal and Anakaputhur municipalities from Palar water supply, and their linking instead to the Metro water network was a clear indication that the Palar river could not meet the demand in the suburbs.

On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board officials had a meeting to discuss the importance of sustaining existing sources and checking the indiscriminate mining to protect the river's aquifers.

As the river's aquifers get recharged only when there is normal rainfall, even one bad spell of monsoon could have consequences for local bodies dependent on the river, officials cautioned. They said that during a normal season, water was available at a depth of one metre, but now it was fluctuating between four and five metres. If it dipped further in the next couple of months, supply was bound to worsen, officials said.

Members of civic groups have also suggested the revival of public wells and protection of local sources of water that could be of benefit during times of shortage.

At present, the 125 Lakh liters of Palar water supplied every day by the TWAD Board is woefully short of the requirements. The Board supplies water to Tambaram and Pallavaram municipalities, apart from Chitlapakkam, and Tiruneermalai Town Panchayats and St. Thomas Mount cum Pallavaram Cantonment Board.

It also covers the Indian Air Force Station, Tambaram; the Officers Training Academy, St. Thomas Mount; Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur; Madras Export Processing Zone-Special Economic Zone and a private flight kitchen company.

However, the actual demand of these areas is more than twice the quantity supplied.

Palar scheme

Schemes to supply water to the southern suburbs of Chennai were drawn up from 1960 onwards. Tambaram had an exclusive project, while the Alandur-Pallavaram Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme was drawn up in the 1970s by the Public Health Engineering Department before the formation of TWAD Board. However, it was not until 1983 that Palar water reached these towns along with Pammal, Anakaputhur and Chitlapakkam.

Some months ago, Alandur, Pammal and Anakaputhur were de-linked from the scheme. Alandur Municipal Chairman R.S. Bharathi said though quality of Palar water was better, they had to switch over to Metro water, keeping in mind the long-term needs, as the river was not perennial.

Cheyyar River

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Cheyyaru River is an important seasonal river that runs through the Thiruvannamalai District of the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. It is a tributary of Palar River, a river which originates in Jawadhu Hills and flows through Thiruvannamalai district before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The river receives most of its water from the Northeast and Southwest monsoons and is the major source of irrigation for several villages, including the towns of Cheyyaru, Vandavasi along its bank.[1]

The ancient name for Cheyyaru river is Sei Aaru (Child river) meaning that the river is created for a child to play. History says that Goddess Parvathi (Balakusalambigai or Ilamulainayagi) made a line on the earth's surface with her Trisul to make a river for her son, Lord Muruga to play.







CHENNAI, April 21, 2012

Six projects on inter-linking of rivers to be implemented

Special Correspondent



The State government has planned to carry out six projects of inter-linking of rivers in the State at a total cost of Rs. 9,015 crores as part of its efforts to achieve optimal utilization of water resources.

Stating this while initiating a debate in the Assembly on the demands for grants of the Public Works Department, PWD Minister K.V. Ramalingam explained the rationale behind the formulation of the projects.

He referred to the spatial and time difference in the distribution of rainfall, which took place over three to four months. Water transfer from water surplus areas to deficit areas; inter-basin/sub-basin transfer after taking care of local riparian obligations; river interlinking on the basis of diversion of flood water and resorting to pumping schemes on the basis of terrain requirements formed part of the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's vision of utilising the available water potential. Ground water resources would also be developed through recharging and augmenting of the resource through measures such as construction of check dams and recharge wells.

The Pennaiyar (Krishnagiri reservoir)-Palar link envisaged water transfer from Krishnagiri dam to Kallar, a tributary of Palar, over a period of 15 days at the rate of 5 days a month from October to December. This Scheme would stabilise an existing command area of about 2,931 acres. As part of the Pennaiyar (Sathanur dam)-Palar link, water would be conveyed from the Sathanur dam to the Cheyyar river, another tributary of Palar, through a new head regulator and a 23.55-km-long canal. A feeder canal for 38.72 km, would be formed to feed the Nandan Channel. About 10,700 acres of ayacut would be benefitted. This had been proposed to be executed with the funds of the State government.

Aimed at covering 30,430 acres in Salem, Namakkal, Perambalur and Tiruchi districts, the Cauvery-Sarabanga link proposed to divert water from the Mettur dam through a 182-km-long canal to augment irrigation potential in the sub-basins of Sarabanga, Thirumanimuthar and Musiri. As part of the Avinashi-Athikadavu flood canal project, 2,000 cubic feet per second of Bhavani water would be diverted during floods to 71 tanks and 538 ponds in Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode districts. Funds of the Central government would be sought.

A 258-km-long canal from the Kattalai Barrage would be formed to transfer flood water to the Gundar. On completion, about 1.86 Lakh acres would be stabilised, besides bridging a gap of around 33,000 acres. Tiruchi and Srirangam would be protected from floods. This project had been posed to the Union government for assistance. As a pre-condition to the link, a barrage was being constructed downstream Kattalai bed regulator in Karur district at a cost of Rs. 234 crore.

The government also proposed to build check dams over those rivers that were sought to be covered under the projects of inter-linking of rivers. On the Tamiraparani-Karumeniyar-Nambiyar link, the Minister informed the House that under the first and second stages of the project costing Rs. 369 crore, an expenditure of around 174 crore was till now incurred.