“If water is released on Sept. 17, it will take 10 days to reach tail-end’’

Farmers of Tiruvarur, known as the biggest rice bowl in the State with about six lakh acres, are keeping their fingers crossed regarding the samba crop. Thousands of them, small and marginal, are on tenterhooks – whether to go in for the “risky” samba crop or drop the crop altogether.

It is a mixed bag for the district so far, with those with pumpsets going in for ‘kuruvai’ and about to harvest the same, while more than 60 per cent is not even beginning the preliminary works for samba. This is despite the State government’s announcement that it would release water from the Mettur Dam for delta irrigation on September 17, which is just a week away.

“I would not blame anyone for the current situation (of water shortage). If the Nature itself is against us, what can we do,” R. Murugesan, a graduate farmer of Parutthikottai, who has been into agriculture for the past almost 25 years, observes philosophically.

But he is confident that there could be a substantial coverage of samba crop even if water is released next week. “We should be able to raise short duration varieties”. He is confident.

But N.V. Sundaram, organising secretary of the Tiruvarur Maavatta Vivasayigal Mandram, does not share his optimism. Speaking to The Hindu at Rajappianchavadi, he points out that considering the course of the river flow, Tiruvarur district is in the middle while Nagapattinam district is at the tail-end

“Ïf water is released on September 17, it will take at least 10 days for it to reach the tail-end. Only after that water would be gradually released, using the shutters erected every two or three kilometres, for the Tiruvarur district beginning with Thiruthuraipoondi and Muthupettai regions. Thus, it will take five more days for the water to be supplied to Tiruvarur district as a whole.”

“So far, there have been hardly any good rains in the district to take up preliminary works. However we should be able to plough as soon as water is released. We can go in for only short-term and, at the most, intermediate varieties at this stage. We are also not sure how the north east monsoon will behave. Though water is a must, it could be very bad if it were to rain very heavily because too much of water will prove disastrous for the crop. While we should have completed planting by this time, we are going to plough only by October,” he says.

Members of the Vivasayigal Mandram point out, that in taluks including Thiruthuraipoondi, hardly anyone has ploughed.

Besides, nobody is prepared to go in for direct sowing immediately, as they are apprehensive of the mice menace, which can wipe out the entire batch of seeds if only a handful were to go in for sowing. At present, at least 1.5 lakh farmers who till their lands are remaining idle, not knowing what to do, observes Mr. Sundaram. However, the farm workers are able to manage because they can rely on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), he adds.

However, farm workers whom this correspondent met at Royapuram are in tears that they are unable to get any agricultural work.

RELATED NEWS

Jayalalithaa announces sops for delta farmers September 11, 2012