Staff Correspondent

After six rounds of talks, efforts are now on to draft a distress formula

The distress formula is being drafted by irrigation and agriculture expertsMutual visits of farmers' leaders have removed misgivings over the irrigation practices

MYSORE: Independent efforts of farmers of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to find a solution to the problem of water-sharing between the riparian States seem to have had a positive impact. After six rounds of talks, efforts are now on to draft a distress formula.

Farmers' leaders, who have returned after attending the sixth meeting of the "Cauvery family" at Tiruchi on April 9, hope to come out with a formula to address the water-sharing issue during the distress years. Being drafted by irrigation and agriculture experts along with economists, the farmers would discuss the draft before submitting it to both the State Governments and the Union Government.

The meeting had been coordinated by chief convener S. Janakarajan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), which is working to promote a harmonious relationship between farmers of both States. The distress formula to be worked out is independent of legal solution or otherwise that may be in sight.

The mutual visits of farmers' leaders to the command area in the Cauvery basin, it is learnt, have removed suspicion over the irrigation practices, which have often caused heartburn among the farmers. According to president of the Kabini Raitha Hitharakshana Samithi, Kurubur Shanthkumar, who was one of the delegates from Karnataka, the mutual visits have helped in clearing the air about the misconception and lack of faith in each other.

"For example, the farmers in Karnataka were told about the water wastage in Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu farmers believed that Karnataka impounded water in its reservoirs to harm their interests. Visits by the farmers of Tamil Nadu to Karnataka and vice-versa have helped each other to understand the ground realities," he said.

Farmers of the respective States also realised that the issue of sharing the Cauvery water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had been blown out of proportion by political parties. The "Cauvery family" had come forward to release booklets and other publicity materials highlighting the progress made by it during the last two years.

Cropping pattern

Discussions are also on between the farmers to reschedule the cropping pattern, and also reduce the cropping time from the present four months to around two-and-a-half months. These efforts would limit the demand for water for irrigation. In Karnataka, the farmers could switch over to organic farming or new methods of paddy cultivation, which would lead to reduced consumption of water.