With the storage level at the Mettur dam depleting fast, anxious farmers in the delta region are pinning their hopes on the monsoon and the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) to see them through the kuruvai and the samba seasons this year.
Although farmers in the delta had taken up kuruvai paddy cultivation after a gap of eight years with much confidence this year as water was released from Mettur Dam on the scheduled date of June 12, apprehensions are now being aired over the prospects of the kuruvai and samba crops as the water level has slumped to 71.16 feet on Friday, against its full level of 120 feet, with a storage of 33.70 thousand million cubic (tmc) feet. The dam has a capacity to hold 93.47 tmc.
The Public Works Department has already adopted a turn system for water release from the Grand Anicut in an attempt to ensure equitable supply of available water. The PWD has also gradually reduced the quantum of water release from the Mettur Dam to 10,000 cusecs as on Friday. Until about a week ago about 15,000 cusecs was being released.
“The available storage will last only for another 25 to 30 days, raising a question mark over the kuruvai and samba paddy crops” observed Cauvery S. Dhanapalan, general secretary, Cauvery Farmers Protection Association.
Farmers’ organisations have been pressing for steps to get Tamil Nadu’s due share in the Cauvery from Karnataka.
“It is just not enough for the Cauvery Water Management Authority to issue directions and remain silent. The authority members should personally inspect the Karnataka dams and ensure that water was released to save the crop in Tamil Nadu,” said P.R.Pandian, president, Coordination Committee of All Farmers Associations of Tamil Nadu.
Kuruvai cultivation had begun only recently and was yet to be fully completed. The crop on about 3.5 lakh acres has to be saved and samba crop has to be raised on about 15 lakh acre, he said emphasising the need for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to mount pressure for the release of water.
Agreeing that the State has to impress upon the CWMA to ensure release of enough water by Karnataka, Mannargudi S.Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, however, said that the inflow thus got in the Cauvery has to be judiciously managed. “Once the monsoon gets active in the delta here, we can reduce the discharge from the Mettur. If there is enough rain locally, we can store the inflow at Mettur and use it when we need it. I think the situation will be manageable,” he observed.
“Though there has not been much rain in the delta so far, I feel that the monsoon is going to be good and the inflow (in Cauvery) will be fairly appreciable,” he said citing the increasing in inflow at Hogenakkal over the past few days.
Pressing the State government to intensify efforts to get water from Karnataka, Mr.Dhanapalan also urged the government to immediately take steps to enumerate and reconcile the kuruvai area in the delta as many places have not been notified for crop insurance.
“Since kuruvai crop was not raised in many places, they have not been included in the notified area for insurance coverage this season and hence farmers will not be able to insure their crop in such places. The government as a special case should immediately reconcile the cultivated area and get them notified for crop insurance,” Mr.Dhanapalan said.