Farmers in the tail-end areas of Kanyakumari district are concerned over the depletion of storage in all dams — Pechipparai, Perunchani, Chittar-I, Chittar-II and Poigai. They have demanded immediate implementation of turn system as it would be difficult to save the standing paddy crop in the prevailing water scenario.

Farmers in east Kanyakumari, which includes Thovalai, Chenbakaramanputhur, a portion of Anjugramam, Azagappapuram Kottaram, Myladi, Tamaraikulam, Asaripallam, Rajakkamangalam and Muttom, have cultivated paddy on over 19,000 acres. As the crop in the tail-end areas, which has attained the ‘milky stage,’ needs more water, farmers have urged the district administration to introduce the ‘turn system’ at the earliest.

Speaking to The Hindu on Wednesday, the chairman of Kodayar Irrigation Project (Water Resource Organisation), A. Vinsanto, pointed out that the government used to issue a special order every year on March 1 for water release in Padmanabhapuram-Puthanar channel up to March 15 for devotees to take a holy dip during Mondaicadu Bhagavathy Amman Masi Kodai Viza. Water also would be released in Thovalai and Ananthanar channels during the Mondaicadu festival. This step will benefit farmers in the tail-end areas.

While paddy raised around the dam head needs water for only 15 days more, those in the tail-end areas need it for a month. Thus, farmers in Kottaram and surrounding areas have urged the PWD officials to implement turn system immediately before the special G.O. is issued.

Over the years, cultivable area in the district has shrunk from 35,000 hectares to 25,000 hectares owing to conversion of land into sites for houses. In the absence of remunerative price for paddy, farmers have switched over to cash crops like banana and rubber. Though the district administration has taken steps to create awareness of the need to protect water bodies under the ‘Nanneer Kumari’ initiative, it is yet to take off due to poor cooperation from farmers, according to officials in the Department of Agriculture.