NEW DELHI, INDIA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $100 million loan agreement to strengthen a key irrigation and drainage system and improve water management in the Vennar subbasin of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu.

The financing will be used to strengthen embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system and rehabilitate 13 irrigation pumping schemes. The Cauvery river basin is a critical source of water for agriculture, both within Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. But a lack of investment over many years has left irrigation systems unable to meet user demand and increasingly vulnerable to floods and droughts.

“The vast majority of the delta’s population is engaged in farming and fishing. They can no longer rely on the availability of water for their livelihoods, and flooding is common during the erratic northeast monsoon. Their plight may only worsen with climate change. The project aims to improve deteriorated infrastructure and will provide flood protection and renewed access to irrigation,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs at India’s Ministry of Finance, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of India.

“The loan will support Tamil Nadu’s water resources professionals to manage resources better, and with greater involvement of the stakeholders they service,” said L. B. Sondjaja, Deputy Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed the loan agreement for ADB. “Communities will be involved in planning and delivery of water services. Flood forecasting and warning systems will be installed and a flood risks map drawn up to help communities respond more effectively to extreme events.”

A separate project agreement was signed by V. Shanmugam, Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu. S. K. Prabakar, Principal Secretary, Public Works Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, was also present.

The loan from ADB’s ordinary capital resources has a 25-year term. The Water Resources Department of the State of Tamil Nadu is responsible for implementing the project, which is expected to be completed by December 2020.        

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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