Water was released from the Vagai dam on Saturday in view of the Chithirai festival currently under way.
The dam water was released to facilitate the highlight of the festival — the entry of Lord Kallazhagar into the Vaigai river in Madurai.
This year, Kallazhagar is slated to enter the Vaigai on April 25 (Thursday). Lakhs of devotees are expected to witness the event.
Despite the failure of the monsoon and poor storage in the reservoir, the Public Works Department engineers had kept a reserve of 150 mcft. According to sources, 2,000 cusecs of water were discharged (termed ‘rush flow’) on Saturday.
The water release is likely to recharge the aquifers. Water is likely to reach the city in about three to four days.
Water is customarily released two days prior to the entry of Lord Kallazhagar into the Vaigai.
But this time around, in the wake of peak summer temperatures and a parched river bed, the water release was advanced, the sources said.
However, a Corporation official observed that at a time when the civic body was struggling to distribute drinking water to residents in the extension areas, such as Gomathipuram, the water release may lead to a further dip in the storage level at the dam. In the event of scant summer showers, the drinking water problem may aggravate, he added.
But PWD sources pointed out that the Vaigai credit in the dam (water collected from Vaigai river’s own catchment areas) was to be shared between Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts.
For irrigation, the share was fixed at the ratio of 2:3:7 for the three districts respectively. As the share of Madurai district is meagre, the concurrence of the Ramanathapuram Collector was important for the release,” the sources added.