Collector Jayashree Muralidharan has urged the State government to declare the entire Tiruchi district as “drought-hit” and provide suitable relief.

In her presentation to the High-level Committee headed by Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam which is winding up its three-day tour of the water-scarce districts on Saturday, she said the district had recorded only 578 mm against the annual normal rainfall of 761 mm, a deficit of 24 per cent, during 2012. Both the South West and North East Monsoon have proved to be virtually the same in terms of deficit. The total food grain loss that the district would suffer, under the present conditions, would be about 1.5 lakh metric tonnes and in terms of cost it would work out to Rs 632 crore.

She pointed out that the drought-affected areas included about 10,000 hectares of the 44,000 hectares of samba area, 7058 hectares of the 8,000 hectares of maize area, 14,480 hectares of the 14,658 hectares of the cotton area .The total number of farmers affected are more than 35,000 with specific reference to these three crops. “This is the condition as of now. If the present situation were to continue for about 10 to 15 days, it could prove to be far worse,” she was categorical.

She said the 17-channel area, which is dependent on the Cauvery, is also badly affected.

Ms. Muralidharan pointed out the total insured area is 25,267 hectares and more than 20,000 non-loanees and about 4,000 loanees are covered under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme.

The collector said another major problem confronting the district is drinking water because the sources themselves are affected. Among the combined water schemes, the scheme serving Manapparai municipality and 50 wayside villages and the other serving Sriramasamudram of Thottiyam panchayat union and 28 wayside villages need immediate attention. She sought special funds of at least Rs. 50 lakh each for these two schemes as they might require even infiltration well.

As per the advice of the Chief Minister, the district administration is concentrating on drinking water provisions with the help of the local bodies and works estimated at Rs. 37 crore have been planned.

The Finance Minister gave a detailed account of the initiatives of Chief Minister Jayallithaa for getting Tamil Nadu its rightful share of Cauvery water. He also lambasted the Centre for its failure to get even the directives of the Supreme Court, Cauvery River Authority and Cauvery Monitoring Committee implemented in letter and spirit. He appealed to the farming community to trust the Chief Minister. “She will not leave you in the lurch,” he added.

Earlier, the committee visited a totally withered maize field at Reddymaangudi in Mannachanallur union and a badly affected paddy field in Manikandam union. In the morning, the committee visited several villagesCollector P. Senthilkumar took them around the affected fields.

G. Srinivasan, Special Correspondent, adds from Thanjavur:

Farmers of Thanjavur district pleaded with the team for long term measures to protect the water sources like lakes in the district. At Royapuram, Mathiyalagan, a farmer, said that samba crop raised under direct sowing method on 375 acres in the area had withered. Farmers of Kallaperambur, Koilpattu and Vinnamangalam villages demanded that lakes in the area should be desilted and properly maintained. K. Baskaran, Collector, explained the problems in each area.