Samba now depends on monsoon and Cauvery inflow

With Mettur dam almost empty as on Saturday, there may not be any cultivation of kuruvai — short-term paddy crop — this year in canal-irrigated areas in the Cauvery delta districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam.

Last year, too, there was no kuruvai in canal-irrigated areas in these districts.

Water level at Mettur dam stood at 20.78 ft on Saturday. The storage was only four thousand million cubic feet — less than the dead storage quantum of six tmc ft. “There is no possibility of kuruvai this year,” said PWD engineers and Agriculture Department officials.

The dam may not be opened on the traditional date of June 12, this year also. Last year, the dam was opened on September 17 for cultivation of samba, the long term crop.

Last year, long-term samba crop also ran into rough weather owing to inadequate water supply in the middle. The rain gods also played truant. Farmers who suffered more than 50 per cent crop loss in samba were paid relief of Rs 15,000 per acre by the State government.

However, there were complaints from farmers that not all those who suffered crop loss were paid relief and they raised it with the Central team that visited the districts recently.

The Tamil Nadu Agro-Technologists Forum, which has been releasing reports on water position and cultivation methods for the benefit of farmers for the past eight years, has suggested that farmers should not raise kuruvai this year in canal-irrigated areas.

For samba also, the forum said farmers have to plan the crop based on the monsoon and water release from Karnataka as per the final award of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal. This year, a good south-west monsoon has been predicted and it is expected to hit the coast by June 1. If the monsoon is good, Mettur is expected to receive good inflows in a month.

The State government should get an assurance from Karnataka that it would release the 130 tmc ft of water between June and September as per the final award. Farmers should take up samba cultivation in September only following this.

The forum also suggested direct sowing in most of the Vennar-irrigated areas. In this technique, seeds are sown and allowed to grow in rain water without transplantation, which consumes more water. Farmers should also go for System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation as a water-efficient way to do cultivation.

S. Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, also appealed to farmers not to raise kuruvai in canal-irrigated areas and go for samba alone this year. Kuruvai is a short-term crop in which paddy varieties have a life of 105 days and samba is a long-term crop with a life of 150 days.

Normal samba area in the three districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam is nearly 3.5 lakh hectares.

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