Farmers worried about the prospect of crop being submerged in flood

After having remained bone dry for over seven months, the Cauvery has returned to its majestic form now, swinging the fortunes of the delta farmers in the State.

As flood warnings are being issued for people living along the river, it would seem incredible that just about 20 days ago, water managers in Tiruchi and several other towns along the delta were racking their brains about how to tackle the worsening drinking water scarcity. Indeed, Nature has brought about a complete turnaround in the situation in the delta now.

Farmers who were clamouring for release of water for Karnataka until last month and demanding compensation for crop losses on account of drought are now worried that the heavy flow in the Cauvery could flood their crop.

“The monsoon could be active over Karnataka for still about a month. As the heavy inflow continues, we have no storage capacity to harness the excess flow. Given the prospect of a good north-east monsoon, there is a possibility of flooding of crops. We should have plans in place to tackle both drought and floods,” said Mahadhanapuram V. Rajaram, working president, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association. It’s time the government, he said, drew up a mega plan on the lines of the schemes drawn up by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to create more storage capacity.

“It is a pity that much water could go waste after all these days of water scarcity when even coconut trees started withering,” observed N. Natarajan, former superintending engineer of the Public Works Department. The government should take steps on war footing to build barrages across the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers. Fifteen barrages could be built between Mettur Dam and Grand Anicut on the Cauvery and more than seven on the Coleroon river between Upper Anicut and the Grand Anicut, said Mr. Natarajan, who had previously served in the River Conservation Division of the PWD here.

PWD officials say that this would entail big investments but concede that the barrages will help recharge of groundwater though they may not be able to store huge quantities of water.

Farmers have also been calling for effective water management this season. S. Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, said the PWD should substantially increase the quantum of water released into all rivers and canals in the delta using the excess flow. “This would help ensure that the water reached the tail-end areas quickly and keep the canals and rivers wet as they had gone bone dry for several months,” he said. He also suggested that the PWD take steps to fill up all tanks utilising the excess flow.

Mr. Ranganathan too favours construction of more barrages across the Coleroon and Cauvery as soon as the Supreme Court case on the Cauvery dispute was over.

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