The farmers in Kainakary and in and around Alappuzha town, who are yet to harvest their paddy crops, are a worried lot with reports of opening of the shutters of the Thaneermukkom barrage before April 22.

Over 800 hectares of paddy fields are likely to be affected if the shutters of the barrage were opened allowing saline water to flow into the region. Once the shutters are opened, it will take only six days for the saline water from the barrage to flow into these paddy fields.

The farmers fear that the saline water intrusion will damage their crops. There are some paddy fields in the area which are due for harvest only by mid-May.

Principal Agriculture Officer, B.Nalinakumar told The Hindu that harvest was over in over 20,000 hectares out of the total acerage of 27,000 hectares. There is a looming threat of summer rains also. A bulletin of the Rice Research Station, Mankombu has reported slight rainfall in Kuttanad area on Thursday and Friday quoting reports of Weather Forecasting Station at Thiruvanathapuram.

Kainakary grama panchayat president, S.Sudhimon said that 788 hectares of paddy polders are yet to be harvested in the area. Mr.Sudhimon said that the panchayat had informed the matter at the meeting convened recently to decide upon the date of opening of shutters. “We told the meeting that the farmers wanted the opening of shutters to be extended to April 25, so that the saline water would enter in May 1 so that the intrusion will be for a maximum of two weeks till May 15, when the harvest of the Arupankukara paddy polder is also scheduled. We are not opposed to the opening of shutters, but wanted to delay the opening by atleast three days,” he said.

However, K.M.Poovu, secretary of the Lake Protection Forum, an organisation of fishermen, said that the shutters of the Thaneermukkom barrage were not opened immediately the repeat of the 1983 incident

when large number of fishes died in the lake will surely occur. Already the stagnant water will lead to

spread of diseases. "The collector was convinced of our argument and hence he agreed to opening of the shutters," Mr.Poovu said.

The pollution of the lake is at an alarming rate. The immediate opening of the shutters is the solution to these problems, he said.

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