Cauvery’s catchments receive heavy rains during this period

The Meteorological Department’s prediction of below-average rainfall during this year’s southwest monsoon (June-September) has caused concern among water experts and farmers over the availability of the Cauvery water.

On Thursday, the Department said the rainfall over the country was likely to be 95 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA), with an error of plus or minus 5 per cent. Among the factors is a probability development of El Nino, marked by the anomalous rise in the Pacific Ocean sea-surface temperature off Peru’s coast. The monsoon, which accounts for one-third of the State’s annual rainfall of 92 cm, is significant as the Cauvery’s catchments in Karnataka and Kerala normally experiences heavy rain during the season. It is because of this that the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, in its final order too, stipulated that Karnataka release to Tamil Nadu, during June-September, 134 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) out of the annual quota of 192 tmcft.

If the Cauvery water realisation gets affected in the four months, this will adversely impact the coverage of the short-term Kuruvai crop. At present, the Mettur dam has an extremely low storage of 10 tmcft against its capacity of 93 tmcft. Unless the dam receives a copious inflow, the chances of water release for the crop are bleak, an expert says. Normally, the water release would begin when the storage was 60-65 tmcft. 

However, the experts feel that it may be better to wait for the department’s final forecast to be issued in June, by when there would be clarity over the status of El Nino.

S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, says the forecast is a warning to the State government and farmers to handle the existing water resources carefully. He cautions against indiscriminate drawal of groundwater, whose availability has to be preserved for drinking water supply in the coming weeks. He suggests that the government explore ways of regulating power supply to agricultural pumpsets.

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