Discover how Tamil Nadu plans to tackle groundwater depletion with new initiatives like check dams and digital monitoring, aiming to secure water resources for future generations.Discover how Tamil Nadu plans to tackle groundwater depletion with new initiatives like check dams and digital monitoring, aiming to secure water resources for future generations.
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In a recent report by the Water Resources Department (WRD) of Tamil Nadu, alarming findings have surfaced regarding the state of groundwater across its revenue blocks, known as firkas. According to the assessment for 2023-24, over 30% of these firkas, amounting to 395 blocks, have been classified as over-exploited due to excessive groundwater extraction. An additional 227 firkas are categorized as semi-critical, and 64 as critical, highlighting the severe strain on Tamil Nadu’s groundwater resources.

Understanding the Classification:

Firkas are labeled as over-exploited when the stage of groundwater extraction (SoE) reaches or exceeds 100%, indicating that more water is being extracted annually than can be naturally replenished. Semi-critical firkas have an SoE of 70% to 90%, while critical firkas range from 90% to 100% SoE.

Concerns and Calls for Action:

Farmers and environmentalists have expressed deep concern over these findings, emphasizing the urgent need for state intervention to curb groundwater exploitation. KV Elankeeran from the Federation of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association highlighted historical water management practices involving tanks and channels that are now obstructed by urbanization, hindering natural rainwater flow into water bodies.

“To mitigate groundwater exploitation, the state must prioritize rainwater harvesting initiatives and enhance public awareness,” Elankeeran emphasized. He also stressed the importance of constructing more check dams to facilitate groundwater recharge.

K Subramanian, State General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, echoed these sentiments, urging the government to identify and restore lost water channels across the region.

Government Initiatives and Future Plans:

In response to these challenges, the WRD has deployed over 900 Digital Groundwater Level Recorders across the firkas for continuous monitoring. Plans are underway to install these recorders in all 1202 firkas to bolster monitoring efforts.

Moreover, the WRD has proposed the construction of check dams at strategic locations within the Cauvery and Vaigai basins. Additionally, subsurface dykes are slated for construction in the tail-end areas of the Cauvery basin to prevent seawater intrusion—a critical issue in coastal regions.

A senior WRD official affirmed, “Once the necessary approvals are secured, work on these projects will commence promptly.”


As Tamil Nadu grapples with escalating groundwater depletion, collaborative efforts between the government, farmers, and communities are essential to safeguarding this vital resource. The implementation of sustainable water management practices and infrastructural projects will play a pivotal role in ensuring long-term water security for the state.

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