Finance Minister says initially 200 cusecs will be released from Periyar dam for the next 120 days

Water was released from Periyar dam on Sunday for irrigation of the first crop in the double-cropping areas of Cumbum valley.

Releasing water from the dam, Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam said initially 200 cusecs of water would be released from the dam for the next 120 days continuously. A total of 14,707 acres — 11,807 acres in Uthamapalayam, 2,412 acres in Theni and 488 acres in Bodi blocks — would benefit. He appealed to farmers to raise short-term crops and use water judiciously.

Public Works Department engineers said turn system would be introduced if the storage level failed to improve or in case of failure of monsoon.

Collector K.S. Palanisamy, Theni MP R. Parthiban and MLAs A. Lazar and Thangathamizh Selvan and PWD officials accompanied the Minister.

At present, the water level stood at 113.80 feet in Periyar dam with an inflow of 100 cusecs. The combined credit was only 1,860 mcft. Normally, water would be released only when the combined credit was 4,000 mcft, the officials said.

But the PWD officials and the farmers hoped that the Southwest monsoon would improve the storage level in the coming months to maintain the discharge for the first crop till harvesting without any hassles. Despite poor storage, the PWD officials released water from the dam last year, and the farmers raised seedlings and did transplantation in the entire valley. With the sudden failure of monsoon and depletion of storage, the PWD officials could not supply water for irrigation continuously last year. Standing paddy crops on only 5,000 acres out of the 14,707 acres were protected till harvesting, and the crop in the rest of the areas completely withered last year.

Brushing aside the appeals of the farmers, the PWD officials had refused to release water from the dam on June 13, 2013, as the level was below 114 feet.

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