Having suffered setbacks for years due to inadequacy of water for cultivation, farmers in the district now dread indications of El Nino weather phenomenon affecting the South-West monsoon pattern.

This year, the Public Works Department has been able to release water only for the old ayacut area of the Bhavani Sagar Dam. Last month, water was released from the Kodiveri Dam for irrigating 25,504 acres wetted by the Arakkankottai - Thadapalli channels, benefitting farmers in Gobichettipalayam, Anthiyur and Bhavani regions.

Absence of rain so far from the North-East monsoon and the precarious water position in the Bhavani Sagar Dam has raised apprehensions among the farming community in the Kalingarayan and Lower Bhavani Project ayacut areas that their predicament would precipitate further.

According to official sources, the Public Works Department is in a quandary.

Last year, the department was in a position to release water during August for irrigating 15,743 acres in the Kalingarayan canal ayacut, and 1.03 lakh acre in the LBP canal ayacut.

This year, the department has drawn flak from the farming community for not giving any commitment so far on the water release schedule.

Farmers’ associations have planned a series of agitations for water release, knowing full well that they would be fighting a losing battle.

The PWD, sources said, is not prepared to take the risk as it had already been taken to task by the farmers as well as the State Government for not fulfilling the commitment it had made for water release for three cycles of special wetting earlier this year. The department was able to keep the commitment only for two cycles with available water in the Bhavani Sagar Dam, but could not implement the third cycle of release in the absence of anticipated rainfall. Usually, the district receives more rainfall from the North-East monsoon season. This year, the scarcity is already being felt acutely.

In the event of failure of North-East monsoon, the priority would be for conserving whatever water is available for drinking purposes, the sources said.

In this backdrop, the El Nino phenomenon that would affect the pattern of South-West monsoon could turn out to be the proverbial last straw on their back, the farmers fear. Only a depression in the sea would save the situation for the farmers, PWD sources said.

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