The Madras High Court bench here on Wednesday ordered the release of water from the Vaigai credit for irrigation in Melur.
The judgment issued by a Division Bench comprising Justices R. Sudhakar and V.M. Velumani, based on three public interest litigations, brought relief to hundreds of farmers in Melur, who were awaiting the release of water to save their standing crops spread across the taluk. In their order, the judges cited a communication from the PWD authorities to the Madurai District Collector on December 12, 2013 indicating that 700 mcft water could be distributed to Melur irrigation lands from the Vaigai credit.
The communication was submitted pursuant to a representation given by the farmers from Melur to the PWD seeking water for irrigation on December 9, 2013.
In their order, the judges pointed out that the authorities distributed only around 350 mcft of water for three days from December 23 to December 26. Therefore, they noted that as per the recommendation of the PWD, around 350 mcft of water is yet to be released for irrigation in Melur.
Besides, the judges also observed that the PWD officials had stated in the communication that the water to be released from the Vaigai credit could be replenished from the Periyar credit.
“A conjoint reading of all rules (on water distribution) makes it clear that the discretion exercised by the PWD in its letter dated December 12, 2013 (to the Madurai Collector) is in favour of ayacutdars of the single crop farmers,” the judges observed. Also citing the water withdrawal table submitted by the PWD officials in the court, the judges pointed out that Melur and Madurai North farmers were given only 28.5 per cent of water entitled to them for irrigation, whereas the farmers in Uthamapalayam and Theni got 94.74 per cent of water entitled to them.
Emphasising on equitable distribution of water to farmers of all ayacut regions, the judges directed the authorities to distribute water as per the recommendations of the PWD in its communication to the District Collector.
In an emergency meeting ordered by the court, the authorities including the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu had failed to consider the proceedings of the PWD submitted to the Collector, the judges further said.