The delay in release of water by five days would not affect the first crop irrigation, said S. Periyasamy, district president of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.

Though late by eight days, the opening of sluices of Bhavani Sagar Dam on Friday brought cheers to farmers irrigating 1,03,500 acres in Erode, Tirupur and Karur districts.

Four State Ministers – N.D. Venkatachalam (Revenue), K.V. Ramalingam (Public Works Department), V. Senthil Balaji (Transport), and M.S.M. Anandan (Forests) – joined the District Collector K.V. Shanmugam at a function to release the water in the presence of a host of MLAs, the Erode Mayor Malliga Paramasivam and other dignitaries.

Starting with 500 cusecs the discharge would be increased gradually to 2,300 cusecs for the next four months. As on Friday morning, the dam level was 85.30 feet with inflow of 1,404 cusecs. Storage in the dam was 18,663 million cubic feet against its full capacity of 32,800 million cubic feet.

The dam has an ayacut area of 2,47,247 acres in the three districts.

Of this 2.07 lakh acres are in Lower Bhavani Project area.

Of the remaining, 24,504 acres are irrigated by Thadapalli Arakankottai channel and the rest by Kalingarayan channel.

At the same time last year, the water level at the dam was 37.63 feet.

Because of the failure of crops, the State Government had to provide relief for the farmers.

This time around, the abundant rainfall in the catchment areas in the last two months and the release of surplus water from the Piloor dam into the Bhavani Sagar Dam has ushered in hopes for a healthy agricultural season for the farmers cultivating rice, sugarcane, turmeric, and coconut in the three districts.

The State Government has requested farmers to use the water judiciously.

The delay in release of water by five days would not affect the first crop irrigation, said S. Periyasamy, district president of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.

However, the Lower Bhavani Farmers’ Association has questioned the delay. According to C. Nallasamy, president of the association, the dam has 18 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) water, and hence, timely release of 10 tmc could have been made.

Also, water from the Bhavani Sagar Dam must be let out only for Kuruvai crop and not for Samba, as per the Cauvery Tribunal Award, Mr. Nallasamy said, adding: “It is unclear why the PWD is misleading the government.”