Met department confident of considerable rains this month
The Grand Anicut (Kallanai), major distribution point of water for a number of canals that feed the delta irrigation, does not look grand now. Built by the Chola King Karikala around the first century AD, it is one of the oldest water diversion or water regulator structures in the world, which is still in use.
The purpose of the dam is to divert water of the Cauvery across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals.
The Tiruchi district gazetteer speaks of the Cauvery “overflowing” in July and August. With nil flow from the Mettur Dam, one could see only parched sands this year at the Grand Anicut.
Normally, by this time of the year, the anicut would be pretty busy as the water would have been released for irrigation from the Mettur Dam for kuruvai crop (short-term crop of 90-105 days). The normal date of release for kuruvai has been June 12 for long and in 2011 Mettur Dam was opened a week ahead of schedule.
Now it is almost a month behind schedule and the Stanley Reservoir (Mettur Dam) is yet to get a drop of water from Karnataka. With the south west monsoon playing truant, the upper riparian State Karnataka itself is yet to get copious inflows in the Cauvery.
As on Sunday, the Mettur level was only around 77 ft against the full level of 120 ft and the storage was hardly 39 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) against the total capacity of 93.4 tmcft.
Official sources, who do not want to be identified, were categorical that it would be suicidal to open the Mettur Dam at present for kuruvai as there is no certainty that the dam would be able to provide adequate water — at least 100 tmcft to 115 tmcft.
Hardly two thirds of water would be able to reach the tail-end areas in the delta such as Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts. The sources advise the farmers to brace themselves up only for one crop this year — that is samba. “It is possible to raise samba on about 19 lakh acres in 11 districts,” they said.
As the Meteorological Department is confident of considerable rains during this month, we can hope for some flows into the Mettur Dam in a few days, at least from the Kabini, they added.