Chances of cultivation of short-term paddy crop in canal-irrigated areas remote

For the 53rd time in its 79-year history, water will not be released from Mettur Dam for the kuruvai crop on the scheduled date of June 12, owing to poor storage. This means chances of cultivation of the short-term paddy crop in canal-irrigated areas are remote this year.

Public Works Department officials said the water level stood at only 17.99 feet as against the mandatory 90 feet for opening the dam. The inflow was 72 cusecs and the outflow 800 cusecs on Tuesday morning. Currently, water is being released only for drinking purposes.

Last year, the dam was opened on September 17 only for samba cultivation. Since its opening in 1934, the dam was opened 79 times for irrigation so far. Eleven times the dam was opened before June 12, 15 times on June 12 and 53 times after June 12. In 2011, the dam was opened six days in advance (on June 6). Farmers reaped bumper Kuruvai and samba harvest that year.

The lowest water level was recorded at 9.90 feet on February 17, 1964, 8.80 feet on May 5, 1963 and 6.40 feet on January 1, 1946. Officials said the current water level of 17.99 feet is the lowest in the last 23 years (as against the full reservoir level of 120 ft). The storage is low at 3.53 tmcft. The dam released water for the Delta for the first time on June 12, 1934, after it was commissioned. It received a maximum inflow of 4.56 lakh cusecs that year. The maximum outflow was 2.84 lakh cusecs in 1961. However, the failure of monsoon, Karnataka’s refusal to release the due share of the water to Tamil Nadu kept the water level below 20 feet for the past few months. Farmers in the Delta are pinning hopes on the meeting of the temporarily formed Supervising Committee on Cauvery on June 12.

They also express the hope that Karnataka will come to their rescue as the south west monsoon is good.

The farmers also expressed concern over the statement of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at an all party meeting in Karnataka recently that the State might not be able to release 134 tmc of water between June and September and it could release only 97 tmc of water. Karnataka should honour the final award of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal, they said.

Last year, Kuruvai was not raised in canal irrigated areas and samba also ran into rough weather for want of water. The government paid relief to farmers at the rate of Rs.15,000 an acre.

V. Jeevakumar, a farmer from Budalur, said the Central government should intervene and ensure that Karnataka released water as per the final award of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal.

It should form the Cauvery Management Board and Water Regulation Committee immediately.

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