Efforts would be taken to declare Madurai district drought hit, the Collector, N. Mathivanan, has said.

Responding to the demands of farmers at the farmers’ grievance redressal meeting held here on Friday, the Collector said that all relevant data on the rainfall, coverage of cultivation, dam storage would be sent to government for declaring the district drought hit.

Already 22 districts have been declared drought hit in the State and works under the drought relief fund were taken up, K. Devarajan, district president of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam said. "As against the normal rainfall of 99.9 mm (during August), the district has recorded 104 mm." The Joint Director (Agriculture), K. Periyasamy, said the Central government had taken the rainfall data from the Department of Meteorology to decide on the drought situation.

However, farmers said just the rainfall quantum should not be considered. One of them said that even distribution of rainfall was crucial for cultivation. "It has been dry all these four months and suddenly there was heavy downpour on a particular day that went waste. That the first crop of cultivation on 45,000 acres could not be raised and the second crop and single crop (on 1.25 lakh acres) could not take off should be made known to the authorities," he said.

Another farmer said not only the rainfall in Madurai district should be considered, but also the poor storage in Periyar and Vaigai reservoirs on which the district depended should be taken into account.

Mr. Periyasamy said there was a shortfall of 8,000 ha of cultivation in rain-fed areas due to lack of rain.

Meanwhile, farmers demanded that the 10 hours of power supply for lift irrigation (6 hours in day time and 4 hours in night) should be increased as in the Delta region. "Water level in the wells has gone down substantially. We get the yield only from the borewell sunk inside the wells that requires more time for pumping," one of them said.

An official from the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board said decision on the issue could be taken up only by the State government.

With regard to release of water from the Vaigai dam, the Public Works Department Executive Engineer, S. Vijayakumar, asked the farmers to wait for one more week so that there was sufficient storage in the dams.

The District Revenue Officer, Dinesh Ponraj Oliver, and officials from several departments were present.

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