PWD engineers wary of announcing date of water release

The farmers of Cumbum Valley remained a disappointed lot as the early onset of monsoon and the showers in Kerala, particularly in Periyar dam site, on Monday failed to change the water level in Periyar dam which remained at 112.7 feet.

Without committing any date for the release of water for the first crop in the double-cropping areas of the valley, the Public Works Department officials asked the farmers to wait.

In the past, Cumbum Valley received water from Periyar dam on June 1 for cultivation. But of late, the poor storage position in the dam has been forcing postponements of release dates. In fact, water was released on June 1 only thrice — in 2001, 2003 and 2008 — in the recent past.

The situation has been worse since 2009.

Water was released between the second and the third weeks of July in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and in July-end in 2012. Periyar dam should have a minimum storage of 2,000 mcft to enable release of water for irrigation. But on Tuesday, the storage was only 1,344 mcft.

The PWD engineers are wary of announcing the date of water release this time. In 2012, after release of water for irrigation, the officials had to ask the farmers to stop agriculture activities within two months in view of monsoon failure. Harvesting could be done only in 5,500 acres, with 40,000 acres lying dry.

Poor storage in Vaigai dam too has been a cause for concern. Farmers say the delay in rainy season will make the situation worse. They want immediate release of water for paddy nurseries, as the delay in raising nurseries will protract all agricultural activities till harvesting.

At present, only 100 cusecs of water has been released from the dam for drinking water supply. To discuss the situation, the PWD officials have convened a meeting with farmers on June 16, says P.Dhanabal, Executive Engineer, Periyar Vaigai Division.

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