Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve and Vaigai River: Tamil Nadu | 07 Jun 2021

Why in News

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.

Key Points

  • About Vaigai River:
    • Origin and Tributaries:
      • It originates in the Western Ghats (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.
    • Heritage River:
      • 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.
    • Significance:
      • 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.
  • Rejuvenation of Vaigai:
    • 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:
    • Establishment:
      • 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.
    • Ecological Diversity:
      • 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.
  • Other four Tiger reserves of Tamil Nadu:

Source: DTE