In spite of the Mettur dam, the lifeline of the Cauvery delta, not having comfortable storage, the Agriculture Department is confident of achieving normal agricultural production during 2010-11.

On Tuesday, the dam's storage stood at 42.3 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), about 14 tmcft less than what it was on the corresponding day last year. The dam capacity is 93.47 tmcft. Since June 1, the State has received around 48 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of Cauvery water from Karnataka, whereas it should have got 121 tmcft as per the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

Considering the present rate of inflow and discharge and after allowing for dead storage, the existing storage is likely to last around 35 days. Yet, senior officials of the Agriculture Department are optimistic about this year's production.

The primary reason is that Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts, accounting for 80 per cent of the Kuruvai area coverage in the Cauvery delta districts, have received much higher rainfall during the south-west monsoon this year compared to the previous year. During June 1 and September 8, Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur received excess rainfall of 44 per cent and 64 per cent respectively while Thanjavur registered normal rainfall of minus six per cent.

Even though the previous year's storage was higher than the present storage, the coverage under the kuruvai crop this time is marginally more. Around 73,700 ha have now been covered as against 73,400 ha last year.

As of now, the coverage under the Samba crop is now 31,300 ha, which includes 11,800 ha covered under direct sowing. Nursery operations for the Samba crop have been taken up on 21,400 ha.

The officials say that in view of higher rainfall throughout the State this time, the coverage of food grains (paddy, millets and pulses) and other crops is four lakh ha more than what it was last year. As of now, it is 15 lakh ha.

The other reason cited by the officials is that the north-east monsoon, expected to begin in the third week of October, is also likely to be normal.

Besides, if the State receives its share of Cauvery water from Karnataka in the coming weeks, the normal production can be achieved. On an average, 6.5 lakh ha in the Delta Districts are covered annually.

An official of the Water Resources Department in the PWD says given the storage of 94 tmcft in Karnataka's four reservoirs across the Cauvery, the neighbouring State can make good the shortfall substantially.

Referring to the distress-sharing formula prepared by the Centre and approved by all the Basin States except Karnataka, the official says if the formula were to be adopted, Tamil Nadu is to receive 35 tmcft more. The State has written to the Union Water Resources Ministry to convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority for approving the formula.

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