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Cauvery panel apprised of farmers' plight

By Our Staff Correspondent

Mysore Sept. 24 . Members of the Mandya Jilla Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti on Tuesday apprised the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) of the distress faced by farmers in the Cauvery Basin in Karnataka.

The samiti pointed out to the CMC team, led by the Union Water Resources Secretary, A.K.Goswami, that the Southwest Monsoon had failed for the second consecutive year in the Cauvery Basin in Karnataka and farmers were in dire straits.

The farmers, led by the KRRS leader, K.S. Puttanaiah and the samiti President, G. Made Gowda, pointed out that the water storage as on September 23 this year was only 13.45 tmcft., whereas the storage position during the corresponding period last year was 32.22 tmcft. The inflow was 1,771 cusecs where as it was 5,748 cusecs last year.

They submitted a memorandum containing 19 points, to the CMC team, and said the available water in the reservoir was enough to sustain the standing crops only up to the first week of November. If water was released to Tamil Nadu, the standing crop would perish.

The extent of production loss would be 40 lakh tonnes of sugarcane worth Rs. 28,000 lakh and two lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs. 1,000 lakh. It was also pointed out that more than 2.45 lakh acres in the Cauvery Basin in Karnataka had remained unsown due to the non-availability of water and failure of rains.

The CMC team was apprised of the monsoon pattern in the region.

The samiti said the normal annual rainfall was 700.1 mm. and the normal annual rainfall between June and September was 217.1 mm. But the Cauvery Basin region had received only 123 mm. of rain, which was only 56 per cent of the normal rainfall.

Due to scanty rainfall, the sown area in the rain-fed belt had drastically reduced and it was the worst situation experienced in the district during the past two decades, the memorandum said.

Referring to the monsoon pattern in Tamil Nadu, the samiti said the peak rainfall period in Tamil Nadu was from October to December when the Northeast Monsoon sets in. Farmers were assured of water and could take advantage of it by resorting to use of both rainwater and canal water without depending on the canal water alone.

But Karnataka was entering a period of water depletion and would have to wait for the Southwest Monsoon which was due only next June.

The standing crop in Karnataka required 40 tmcft. of water till December, but the availability was only 13.45 tmcft. Even assuming that the entire quantity of water was utilised by Karnataka alone, farmers were not sure of getting a crop. Hence releasing water for new crops in Tamil Nadu did not serve any purpose at present, the farmers said.

The samiti carried out an analysis of the water position from 1981 to 2002, and pointed out that this year was the worst with the lowest water storage at any given point of time during any year.

Even though the State was going through such a distress period, it had released 10 tmcft. of water to Tamil Nadu.

Drawing the attention to the economy of the region, the samiti said most districts in the Cauvery Basin in Karnataka were agrarian, and non-availability of water would deprive thousands of people of employment.

It would also affect the economy of the districts. The samiti also urged the CMC to prevail upon Tamil Nadu to implement the suggestions of Mahalingam, President of the Ryots' Association of Tamil Nadu, who had suggested digging of open well for every 50 acres of command area, which would supplement the availability of water for farmers.

It also stressed the need for Tamil Nadu to avoid wasting water by allowing it to drain into the sea. A large volume of water went unutilised and Tamil Nadu should prevent this wastage by constructing reservoirs and barrages along the course of the river, the samiti said.

Later speaking to presspersons, Mr. Made Gowda said he was optimistic that the CMC would table a "good report" as it had been apprised of the crisis plaguing farmers in Karnataka.

Mr. Puttanaiah said the samiti had made it clear to the CMC that the existing standing crops in Karnataka could not be allowed to wither for want of water to facilitate Tamil Nadu to take up new crops.

They could wait for the setting in of the Northeast Monsoon to take up new cultivation.

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