Brimming with hope

The increased storage in the Mullaperiyar dam has brought cheer to farmers in Tamil Nadu's five districts where cultivation has gone up by thousand of acres

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:03 pm IST

Published - December 03, 2014 02:37 am IST - MADURAI:

Following the Supreme Court order, Tamil Nadu was been able to store 142 feet of water in the Mullaperiyar dam, the lifeline of five southern districts this year. File photo: H. Vibhu

Following the Supreme Court order, Tamil Nadu was been able to store 142 feet of water in the Mullaperiyar dam, the lifeline of five southern districts this year. File photo: H. Vibhu

The farmers in 20,000 acres of the rain-fed areas in Bodi, which Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam represents in the Assembly, can raise a crop this year.

While the Cumbum valley farmers are happy that the Mullaperiyar dam level has been increased to 142 feet, these farmers in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats, where desertification has set in, pinning their hopes on the dammed water to be released through the 18-channel project to fill up 48 tanks.

Besides, the four municipalities and wayside villages in Theni district need not fret about drinking water problem for a year, say officials of the Public Works Department (PWD). A channel from the Vaigai basin that feeds the Nilakottai block in Dindigul district will help to cultivate 3,000 acres.

Downstream the Vaigai dam, the farmers of Madurai can benefit from the additional storage. “The area under cultivation has increased by at least 10,000 hectares in Madurai district, up from 22,000 hectares last year,” says an agricultural officer.  

“Melur farmers are now confident of assured irrigation, and more are taking up farming this year,” says M. Murugan, president of the Periyar-Vaigai Project Committee. “Irrigation was suspended only for three days when the PWD drew water for Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts,” he adds.

A PWD engineer says most of the 1,000 irrigation tanks have water around 50 per cent of their capacities only because of the additional storage of 1,548 mcft in the Mullaperiyar dam. 

Ramanathapuram, an arid district, will get its full quota from the Vaigai dam this year. The Vaigai water is shared among Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts in the ratio of 2:3:7.

For the past two years, the district did not receive water because of the poor storage in the Vaigai dam and the insufficient discharge from the Mullaperiyar dam. “This year, Ramanathapuram is given priority,” PWD officials say. 

Over 3,000 cusecs has been released into the irrigation system since November 21. By the end of last week, irrigation tanks realised 1,850 mcft. The water reached Pandiyur, traversing 30 km into the district.

The 130 tanks in the district, plus the RS Mangalam tank and the Ramanathapuram big tank, would benefit paddy and other crops on 67,000 acres, PWD sources say.

Once the quota for Ramanathapuram is released, Sivaganga farmers stand to benefit, say officials.

In short, there is a renewed hope among farmers in the five mid-south districts here, which depend heavily on the Mullaperiyar dam — still standing majestically, with history as a pointer and reminder.

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