Farmers in the Cauvery delta region will get three-phase power supply for 12 hours from Sunday, instead of the present nine hours.

They will have eight hours' supply during the day and four hours in the night.

Announcing this, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in a statement issued on Saturday, stated that the enhanced duration of supply would cover agriculturists in the districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam; Kulithalai, Musiri and Lalgudi taluks of Tiruchi and Chidambaram and Kattumannarkoil taluks of Cuddalore.

To meet the additional requirement, power would be purchased from the open market. For this the State government would give special financial assistance of Rs.125 crore to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO).

Besides the amount of tariff subsidy earmarked for the year, the remaining Rs.2,000 crore would be immediately released to the Corporation.

Explaining the background for the move to increase the duration of supply, the Chief Minister said that the three-phase supply was, till now, provided for nine hours, of which six hours were during day and three in the night. Considering the low storage of water in the Mettur dam, the farmers had sought 12-hour three-phase supply. It was against the backdrop that she took the decision at a meeting with senior officials of the government on Friday.

On Friday, the storage in the Mettur dam was only 41.11 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), which left no scope for releasing water for ‘kuruvai' crop.

Last year, the crop was covered over an extent of 3.45 lakh acres in the Cauvery delta region. This year, nursery had been taken up over 2,000 acres, which would eventually result in raising the crop over 20,000 acres. In addition, paddy was being cultivated on 11,000 acres. As the Mettur dam was not getting water from Karnataka, most of the farmers in the delta had not taken up nursery. Pointing out that there were 80,000 agricultural pumpsets in the delta region [consisting of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Tiruchi and Cuddalore districts], she said that if adequate power supply was provided to the pumpsets, cultivation could be taken up over 1.5 lakh acres, using ground water even though an extent of 3.45 lakh acres could not covered.

Giving an account of the performance of the farm sector during 2011-2012, the Chief Minister said that the production of paddy was highest with 75.96 lakh tonnes, an increase of 31.15 per cent over the production of 57.92 lakh tonnes during the previous year (2010-2011). This was possible because of the commencement of water release from Mettur on June 6 and adoption of modern farm techniques.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that even though she had been urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to notify the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in the Central government's gazette, there had been no action so far. The Government of Karnataka had not been releasing water either as per the interim order or the final order of the Tribunal. Water was released to Tamil Nadu only after Karnataka's reservoirs were filled.

Under the interim order, 10.16 tmcft of water should have been released to Tamil Nadu. “But, till now, not a drop of water has been realised from Karnataka,” she said, adding that there was no response to her letter to Dr. Singh for convening a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority, a forum to oversee the implementation of the interim order.