Farmers of the delta region told a committee of experts from Centre on Tuesday that they needed at least eight thousand million cubic feet of water in the Cauvery to provide two to three more wettings to save the standing samba paddy crop.
The committee, formed on the direction of the Supreme Court to assess the position of the standing paddy crop in the delta, made a first-hand assessment of the situation during a day-long tour of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Tiruchi districts on Tuesday.
The committee, comprising P.K. Saha, Deputy Commissioner (Crops), Union Ministry of Agriculture, K.S. Jacob and A. Mahendran, Chief Engineers, and Veerender Sharma, Superintending Engineer, Central Water Commission, inspected paddy fields and interacted with farmers across the delta.
T.S. Sridhar, State Commissioner for Revenue Administration, Sandeep Saxena, Agriculture Secretary, and Shiv Das Meena, Commissioner of Agriculture, accompanied the team. Earlier, the committee was briefed about the situation in the delta by officials in Tiruchi.
At Kovilpattu near Budalur, the team inspected the 136-day ADT 36 variety crop that was 105-days old now. Shajahan, a farmer explained to the committee how he had bought water in tankers paying Rs.1,500 a trip to irrigate his crop. The committee also witnessed a field being irrigated with water brought in by a tanker at Royandur.
At Vadakadu Kovilur in Tiruvarur district, S. Ranganathan, secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, met the team and told them that crops on about 612 acres out of the 813 acres that was covered in Kovilur have been affected due to shortage of water. The two tmc of water to be released from Mettur Dam as directed by the Supreme Court may not be sufficient. “We require eight to ten tmc of water,” he said and requested the committee to make a recommendation to the effect.
At Meenambanallur in Keezhayur in Nagapattinam district, the team members sought information on the extent of water received so far and the water sources that were engaged during the period. Mr. Meena told the committee that farmers had solely relied on canal water to salvage the crop with the help of diesel pumps enabling the crops to survive so far.
At Meenambanallur, the team inspected a 75-day crop with a maturity period of 105 days.