A snag in the shutters of at least four sluices in the Lower Anicut has led to a substantial quantum of water going waste since Sunday night.
According to P. Vinayagamoorthy, president of the Kollidam—Keelanai Paasana Vivasayigal Sangam, there were 70 shutters in the anicut meant for releasing water through various irrigation canals.
When the Cauvery was in spate owing to copious discharge from Karnataka, the Lower Anicut was receiving an inflow of over 1.25 lakh cusecs. As the anicut had attained the full storage level of 9 ft, Public Works Department officials opened the shutters to let out the surplus water downstream.
After the inflow dwindled, the PWD officials tried to close the sluices, but could not succeed. Since the shutters could not be downed, the officials had mobilized and stacked a large number of sand bags.
“How long can the sand bags hold heavy pressure? Another spell of rain in the catchment areas of the Cauvery will spell disaster,” he said.
According to K.V. Elangeeran, president of the Veeranam Tank Paasana Vivasayigal Sangam, about 1,000 cusecs of water was going waste from the anicut for the past three days as the shutters could not be closed.
To contain the outflow, the officials reduced the discharge from the Kallanai to 520 cusecs from over 1.25 lakh cusecs. Even the Veeranam tank would have to get its share from the Lower Anicut through Vadavar. Because of the unchecked and uncontrolled outflow, the storage level in the anicut had drastically dropped from 9 ft to 7 ft, Mr. Elangeeran said. The anicut irrigated 1.10 lakh acres of farm land besides being drinking water source to people living downstream.
The recent rains has helped the farmers to go for direct sowing of paddy. However, when the crops start growing the farmers would need water from the anicut. Therefore, PWD officials should have ensured adequate storage in the anicut by plugging the seepage, Mr Elangeeran said.
Funds are not the problem. During the previous DMK rule, Rs 6 crore was sanctioned for works on the anicut, Mr. Vinayagamoorthy said demanding an enquiry.
PWD Executive Engineer Selvakumar said, “We have cleared the logs choking sluices and restored the functioning of shutters.”