Tamil Nadu began releasing 350 cusecs water to the Chitturpuzha irrigation project area from Tuesday following an SOS sent by Kerala officials of the Joint Water Regulatory Board (JWRB) of the inter-State Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) to save standing paddy crops. Tamil Nadu had reduced the release from 400 tmcft to 200 tmcft during the fortnight beginning December 16.
However, the Kerala officials said this was a stop-gap arrangement for four to five days, taken at the official level. They said unless the Tamil Nadu government gave a directive to its officials, the supply of the additional 150 cusecs of water would stop next week. In that case, a large acreage of paddy crops spread across 45,000 acres would be lost.
The Kerala government had last week taken up at the ministerial level the demand to release more water from the PAP to Chittur.
However, no decision had been taken by Tamil Nadu, JWRB officials said.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu had rejected Kerala’s demand to release 1,750 tmcft of water. Instead, it decided to release 600 tmcft from December 16 to January 31 to save the standing paddy crop in the Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme. The Tamil Nadu government had also rejected the demand put forth by Kerala to convene an urgent meeting of the JWRB to discuss the issue. They said the next meeting of the JWRD would be held only in February next.
Farmers in Chittur, the rice bowl of Palakkad, have spent huge amounts of money on paddy cultivation. Now they face the threat of drying up of the entire crop. This would push them into a debt trap, said leaders of the Desheeya Karshaka Samajam.
The farmers said the Parambikulam group of reservoirs had a total storage of 4 tmcft. Tamil Nadu can release 1.75 tmcft to save the paddy crop in Chittur. The farmers alleged that the State government had failed to pressure Tamil Nadu to honour the PAP agreement and give its due share of 7.25 tmcft at the Manacadavu weir for Chittur annually.
The Parambikulam-Aliyar Jala Samrakshana Samithy took out a protest march to the office of the Chief Engineer of the Chitturpuzha irrigation project on Tuesday demanding release of water from Kampalathara though the Left Bank Canal of the PAP to the grama panchayat areas of Perumatty, Pattancherry, Nandiyod, Vandithavalm and Thathamangalm to save paddy crop in 2,000 acres of land.