Farmers want to save crops but Collector spells out priorities

Rain deficit has led to a face-off between farmers, who want immediate release of water from Vaigai dam for irrigation, and the district administration, which is keen on storing water for meeting drinking water needs.

The standoff came to the fore at a meet organised by Collector L. Subramanian on Friday to redress farmers’ grievances. The agriculturalists expressed their disappointment over the authorities not making a positive announcement on the release of water. It all began when V. Rajamanickam, a farmer from Melur taluk, bemoaned that water was not available for irrigation owing to insufficient storage in dams. His statement led to a commotion with other farmers asking him not to make negative statements on water availability.

The farmers did not calm down for long despite repeated requests by the Collector. Stating that they had come to the meeting expecting a positive reply on water release, the farmers said failure to release water would prove detrimental to crops being raised on thousands of acres.

The Collector said, “You cannot pressurise me to release the water. I cannot announce any decision right now. We are also equally concerned about irrigation. But provision of drinking water is also important. A decision will be taken on this issue in the next two to three days.”

Stating that releasing water for a day or two would not serve any purpose, the Collector said it should be released at least for four to five days so that the water could reach the farmers in the tail-end areas. Though the present water level in Vaigai dam stood at 48 feet, around 16 feet were filled only with silt, he added.

At present, around 60 cusecs of water was being released every day for meeting the drinking water needs. The supply would have to be maintained till February. “If the water is released for irrigation, there won’t be sufficient water for drinking,” he said. He also said the Executive Engineer of the Public Works Department here had gone to Chennai to apprise the Chief Engineer of the situation. In the meantime, the district administration was also considering the possibility of using Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga credit.

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