“Karnataka should release at least 20 tmc to save samba crop”

Desperate farmers of Cauvery Delta districts are pinning hopes on a meeting between Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the Cauvery issue, to be held in Bangalore on Thursday.

“Something tangible should emerge at the meeting lest we will lose the samba crop also this year,” a cross-section of farmers said, hoping that Karnataka would relent from its rigid stand. With the release of water from Mettur Dam being reduced to less than 1,000 cusecs on Wednesday evening, farmers are facing a crisis in the delta.

S. Ranganathan, secretary of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, said Karnataka should take this opportunity and make a goodwill gesture by releasing water. “I think the people, government and political leaders in Karnataka will have understood the precarious situation in Tamil Nadu. While we need 60 tmc ft of water to save the entire samba, Karnataka should release at least 20 tmc to save the standing samba crop,” Mr. Ranganathan said.

V. Jeevakumar, a farmer from Budalur was not optimistic about the outcome of the meeting. “We held talks several times but nothing tangible had come out. As talks failed, we went to Supreme Court. Again the issue is back to square one. Respecting Supreme Court's order, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is going for talks. But Karnataka has never respected the apex court. In such a situation we can’t expect miracles to happen but if something good comes out we will welcome it. The Supreme Court or the Centre should come out with a mechanism to release water from Karnataka when the State disobeys their orders,” Mr. Jeevakumar said.

Sundara Vimalanathan, secretary of Thanjavur District Cauvery Protection Association, felt that the meeting of Chief Ministers was crucial as it was taking place at a time when samba crop was in peril. “Karnataka should take a decision on humanitarian grounds and to maintain good neighbourly relationship.”

Samba crop has so far been raised on 82,000 hectares in Thanjavur district and nearly 1.20 lakh hectares in Tiruvarur district. Tiruvarur district has direct sown crop with about 70,000 hectares, while transplanted area is more in Thanjavur at around 72,000 hectares. In Thanjavur district, the samba target is 1, 20,000 hectares. But the target may not be achieved in view of acute water shortage. Farmers of the delta districts are keen to save samba as they had lost kuruvai in canal-irrigated areas. Against 45,000 hectares of normal kuruvai area in Thanjavur district, only 20,000 was covered under kuruvai in pumpset-irrigated areas.

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