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Concern over dwindling storage level in dams

Staff Reporter
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Dry spell in catchment areas of reservoirs in Nellai district

DISCUSSION:Collector M. Jayaraman (second from left) addressing farmers at grievance day meeting in Tirunelveli on Friday.— Photo: A. Shaikmohideen.
DISCUSSION:Collector M. Jayaraman (second from left) addressing farmers at grievance day meeting in Tirunelveli on Friday.— Photo: A. Shaikmohideen.

: The dry-spell continuing in the catchment areas of major reservoirs in the district and consequent precarious storage level in the dams and the frequent and prolonged power cuts came up for discussion in the farmers' grievance day meeting held at the Collectorate on Friday.

As the district has witnessed successive southwest and northeast monsoon failure for the past two years, storage position in the three prime reservoirs of the district namely Papanasam, Manimuthar and Servalar dams has been so embarrassing and water could not be released to the entire earmarked cultivable area falling under these dams.

The district, which normally experiences a rainfall of 219.50 mm between January and mid-May has so far received only 176 mm, which is 20 per cent less than the normal rainfall.

Hence, the Public Works Department is not in a position to release water from Papanasam dam for the ‘kar' paddy cultivation on June 1.

Papanasam dam, which had 62 feet of water against the maximum capacity of 143 feet during this period last year, now has only 36 feet and similar situation prevails at Manimuthar dam also where now the storage level is only 63 feet (71 feet during last year).

It is presumed that these dams might have accumulated silt for about 15 to 20 feet and hence the storage level can be still worse.

“We can think of releasing water from Papanasam dam for the first paddy season of the year only if the catchment areas register good rainfall and the storage level in the reservoir becomes comfortable. Until then, we've to maintain a decent storage level in the dams to ensure drinking water supply to the public of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin,” the PWD officials informed the agriculturists during the meeting with Collector M. Jayaraman in chair.

Another worrying factor is that only 12 of the 921 systemised tanks in the district have water sufficient for irrigation for just 30 days. In other words, of the 2,449 irrigation tanks in the district, including 1,528 rainfed tanks, 2,437 are bone-dry.

When the farmers complained about prolonged power cut for more than three hours, the Executive Engineer, TNEB (Generation) Selvakumar said the situation would improve only if the wind power generation picked up.

Joint Registrar, Cooperative Societies K.G. Madhavan said that the cooperative societies in the district, which surpassed its last fiscal crop loan target of Rs. 65 crore by disbursing Rs. 66 crore, would certainly exceed this year's target of Rs. 75 crore also.

Dr. Jayaraman told the farmers that tenders for the construction of Servalar Bridge near Papanasam, which was destroyed completely in the 1992 floods, would be floated shortly.

When the farmers appealed to the Collector regarding speedy disbursal of compensation for the coconut trees destroyed by the wild elephants at Vadakarai, Dr. Jayaraman directed the Forest Department to look into the issue immediately. Joint Director, Department of Agriculture, Devasahayam was present.

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