The situation remains bleak for Cauvery delta farmers as there is only a remote possibility of the Mettur Reservoir being opened in the next 15 days.
The storage at the reservoir on Thursday was 42 thousand million cubic (TMC) feet as against the capacity of 93.4 tmc ft. Unless the storage increases to more than 55 tmc ft, it will not be advisable to open the sluices for the delta irrigation. Storage position in Karnataka reservoirs is also poor as the combined storage of its reservoirs was 37 tmc ft as against the total capacity of 114 tmc ft. The storage at Kabini Reservoir, from which Mettur Dam reservoir usually gets its water first, was 13.2 tmc ft against the capacity of 17 tmc ft. In Krishnaraja Sagar the storage was 12 tmc ft compared to its capacity of 45 tmc ft. Storage positions at Hemavathi and Herangi reservoirs, water source for KRS, were also poor. The combined storage in these two reservoirs was 16.5 tmc ft compared to their total capacity of 45 tmc ft.
One reason for the poor storage at Karnataka reservoirs was the lack of rainfall in catchment areas of Cauvery. These areas received less than 50 per cent of normal rainfall since June this year. As against the normal rainfall of 1200 mm, they received only 400 mm.
According to an official, the situation was reviewed by the Tamil Nadu Government on Wednesday and it was decided to have one more sitting again after a week to review the situation again. Meanwhile, it had decided to write to the Karnataka Government asking it not to wait for their reservoirs to surplus but to share water with Tamil Nadu immediately.
The official said in the current irrigation year, the shortfall in June was only 1.99 tmc ft but it increased to more than 12 tmc ft in the first week of July. The State had to receive at least 16,000 cusecs during July as per the Tribunal’s order. Unless Karnataka releases water from its reservoirs, it would be difficult to open the reservoir in the next 10 days, the official added.
S. Ranganathan, general secretary of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, said the situation was grim. But he was confident that the situation would improve by the third week of this month. As a majority of the delta farmers decided to skip the kuruvai crop, the State should build up the storage at the reservoir to meet the demand for the long-term samba crop. It was not prudent to open the reservoir now to meet the demands of some farmers, who had planted the kuruvai crop utilising the ground water. For them the government should ensure uninterrupted power supply, he added.