With not much rain, water level has started dropping in dams

Can the farmers start agriculture operation relying on water in the Periyar and Vaigai dams? Will the northeast monsoon come to their rescue?

With these two pertinent questions lingering in the minds of the farmers of Madurai, Dindigul and Sivaganga districts The plains as well as the catchment of both Periyar and Vaigai dams not receiving any significant amount of rainfall ever since water was released.

The level in both the dams have started dropping, adding to the fears of farmers.

The farmers of double-crop area, who lost the first-crop due to paucity of water, began to demand immediate release of water for the second crop of their area — confined to the ayacuts between Peranai and Kallandiri, after the monsoon brought copious water to the dams in mid-October.

That spell of rain had mitigated an imminent drinking water shortage for the city what with the level in the Vaigai dam dipping to 32 feet in October 10.

However, the increased water level in the dams and continuous precipitation made the farmers of single crop area of 85,000 acres — in Melur in Madurai district and part of Sivaganga district — vie for water for irrigation with their counterparts of double-crop area. This echoed in the monthly farmers’ grievance meeting too.

The Public Works Department officials promised the farmers to release water on October 1, provided the combined Periyar credit reached 6,000 mcft by then. However, the rain stopped abruptly. Water level did not go up in the fast place and PWD engineers could not keep their word on water release.

The reason the officials then said was that the irrigation tanks in the district did had very little storage, which cannot support the farmers in preparing of land and raising nursery. However, all of a sudden the water was released on November 9 though there was no rainfall and the dams and tanks recorded no significant increase in the storage.

“The farmers are in a dilemma and as a result, they are going very slow. They have not shown the usual enthusiasm for being the early birds. For, they are reminded of the 2003 crop failure in last reach, in a similar situation,” a PWD engineer said.

Not only the tanks are dry, but also the supply channels and the farm lands. “We need at least five times the present storage for a successful crop. With any rain in the plains, the storage in dams cannot suffice. But, we are already at the end of monsoon season and have no hope for rain after November. Farmers are ready with seeds, but water has not reached many areas so far,” G. Murugan, a member of the farmers planning committee said.