The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday directed the Public Works Department (PWD) officials to convene an emergency meeting on Saturday headed by the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu with PWD officials, Collectors and farmers from Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts to work out measures on sharing water from Periyar dam proportionately.

A Division Bench comprising Justices R. Sudhakar and V.M. Velumani issued the direction while hearing three public interest litigations seeking the release of water from the Periyar and Vaigai dams for irrigation in Melur taluk. Earlier the judges had directed Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian to submit a report on the feasibility of diverting water from the Periyar dam directly to Melur for irrigation for three days.

On Friday, PWD Chief Engineer E. Tamilarasan and Executive Engineer P. Dhanapalan appeared in the court and told the judges that Melur taluk had 5,190 hectares of agricultural tracts, of which 1,190 hectares required single wetting, 1,300 hectares needed two-time wetting, 1,650 hectares needed wetting three times, and 125 hectares four times.

These tracts were spread unevenly all over the taluk owing to which diverting water from Periyar dam to Melur was strenuous, the officials submitted.

Relying on the report of the officials, the AAG contended that there would be no use even if water from Periyar dam was diverted to Melur because at least half the water being diverted would be absorbed by pumps in the course and because of evaporation.

After hearing the arguments of the AAG and the advocates who appeared on behalf of the petitioners and the counsel representing the three farmers’ associations from Theni district, the judges directed the PWD officials to convene an emergency meeting to assess whether the quantum released from the Periyar dam for irrigation in the four southern districts so far had been in accordance to the statutes.

Besides, the Chief Secretary should hold the meeting with all the stakeholders such as the PWD officials, including their Secretary, representatives from different farmers’ associations and the Collectors and work out means on Saturday on distributing the balance water from the Periyar dam proportionately, the judges said.

They further instructed the authorities to submit report on the meeting in the court on Monday.

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