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Celebratory mood dries up ahead of Aadi Perukku

G.Srinivasan
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With water level at Mettur dam abysmally low, situation appears bleak for delta rivers

NO SIGN OF GOOD TIDINGS:Dry Cauvery river bed at Thiruvaiyaru on Thursday.Photo:B.Velankanni Raj
NO SIGN OF GOOD TIDINGS:Dry Cauvery river bed at Thiruvaiyaru on Thursday.Photo:B.Velankanni Raj

With rain god playing truant and water level at Mettur dam abysmally low, it is highly unlikely that there may be water in the rivers in delta districts of Thanjavur and Tiruvarur for Aadi Perukku, which falls on August 2. With only six days left for the festival that is celebrated to welcome river water people are holding their fingers crossed. In the past, whenever there is water scarcity , water will be released temporarily by the government to enable people celebrate Aadi Perukku, but this year it is learnt that the government has taken a decision not to waste water as the storage was very poor.

Water level at Mettur dam stood at 74.95 ft on Thursday. The inflow was meagre 336 cusecs.

It was planned earlier by the PWD and proposed to government that the dam may be opened on July 29 if storage improves. But there was no rain in Karnataka and Kerala and the storage in Karnataka was also very poor.

Farmers are worried as already they could not take up Kuruvai cultivation in canal irrigated areas.

They hope to raise at least one long-term crop samba but with the storage position at Mettur remaining poor even that might run into rough weather.

If water is released in the second week of August, farmers can hope to have a comfortable samba season as it is a long-duration crop and farmers need 120 to 155 days for reaping the crop depending upon the variety. If Mettur dam is opened beyond second week of August or in September, then there’s a likelihood of samba taking a hit during north east monsoon in November.

Meanwhile, Kuruvai has been raised in pumpset irrigated areas in Thanjavur district.

The crop has been raised so far on 14,750 hectares. Agriculture department hopes to raise crop in 5,000 hectares more in pumpset irrigated areas.

Normally when Mettur dam is opened on the traditional date of June 12, Kuruvai will be raised on 45,000 hectares in Thanjavur district.

Out of the total of 14,750 hectares of Kuruvai raised so far, the crop has been raised using System of Rice Intensification method (SRI) on 9,000 hectares. Under the method, seedlings are raised on mat with soil sprayed on it and transplanted quickly. This reduces water requirement and yield, according to agriculture department officials, will also be good.

If it is not possible to open the dam on second week of August, the government plans to open the dam on September 15, it is learnt.

As per the final award of the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal, Karnataka has to release 10 tmc of water in June, 34 in July, 50 in August, 40 in September, 22 in October, 15 in November, eight in December, 3 in January and 2.5 each in February, March, April and May.

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