The recently declared Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu will provide protection to Megamalai, the Vaigai’s primary catchment, in turn helping water levels to rise in the river.
- It originates in the Western Ghat (Varushanad Hills).
- It travels through the Pandya Nadu region of Tamil Nadu.
- Its main tributaries are Suruliyaru, Mullaiyaru, Varaganadhi, Manjalaru, Kottagudi, Kridhumaal and Upparu.
- The Vaigai is 258 kms long and finally empties into the Palk Strait near the Pamban Bridge in Ramanathapuram district.
- The Vaigai was the river that flowed through the noted city of Madurai, the capital (4th-11th century CE) of the ancient and prosperous Pandya kingdom located in southern Tamil Nadu.
- The river finds a mention in Sangam literature dated to 300 before the Common Era.
- The river fulfils the drinking water requirement of five districts of Tamil Nadu namely Theni, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Dindigul.
- It also provides irrigation to 2,00,000 hectares of agricultural land.
- Its deterioration happened at the end of the 18th century when the British started deforesting the Megamalai region which acts as a major catchment for Vaigai. Consequently, the water flow in the river reduced gradually.
- Some 2,00,000 people died in this region during the Great Famine of 1876-77.
- Following the famine, the British Crown proposed diverting water from the Periyar river (Kerala) and feeding it to the Vaigai through a tunnel.
- The Vaigai presently gets about 80% of its water from the Periyar dam. The balance 20% is obtained from the major watershed of the Megamalai region during the northeast monsoon season.
- The Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve will protect wild animals and the natural forests, their habitats which act as watersheds.
Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve:
- It was established in February 2021. It was jointly declared by the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments.
- For this, the Megamalai WLS and the adjoining Srivilliputhur WLS were clubbed together.
- Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve is the fifth Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu, and 51th tiger reserve of India.
- Animals seen here are Bengal tiger, elephants, gaur Indian giant squirrel, leopard, Nilgiri Tahrs, etc.
- It has a mix of tropical evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests and moist mixed deciduous forests, grassland.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT