Kerala

Poor Mullaperiyar storage hits farming in Cumbom

A view of the Mullaperiyar reservoir from the boat landing station at Thekkady when the water level had fallen. (file picture)

A view of the Mullaperiyar reservoir from the boat landing station at Thekkady when the water level had fallen. (file picture)  

Water will be released for farming only when the level goes above 118 ft

As the monsoon is yet to gain momentum, the Mullaperiyar dam is faced with an acute shortage of water leading to a crisis in the four districts of the Cumbom valley in Tamil Nadu.

As per the data of the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department, the Mullaperiyar water level was 112 ft as compared to the maximum level of 142 ft as of now. An official said water could be released for farming only when the water level went above 118 ft.

Usually by June 1, 600 cusecs of water is released through the four penstock pipes to the districts of Theni, Madurai, Sivaganaga, and Ramnad.

As per PWD norms when the water level falls below 116 ft, water will be released only to meet drinking water requirements. Tamil Nadu cannot draw water from the dam when the level dips below 104 ft.

“Water for farming purposes is released only when the water level goes above 118 ft to ensure 120 days of continuous water to the paddy fields,” said PWD sources.

First crop hit

This is for the second time in a decade that the first paddy crop is affected due to water shortage. In 2017, the first crop was badly affected due to the shortage of water.

In 2019, there was a gap of March end to August in releasing water and in Theni district only 25% of the area could be used for the first paddy crop. In Theni, 14,915 ha is under paddy cultivation, as per official data.

The delay in rainfall and release of water will affect the first crop, farmers in the Cumbom valley said. Selvaraj, a farmer in Cumbom, said water shortage had now affected almost all crops. He said cereals, oilseeds, and vegetables were also sown from July to August. “If there is no water, there is no option but to keep the land idle.” He said large areas of paddy fields were left idle last year also in the absence of water in the Cumbom valley. He said there was acute shortage of water due to the delay in releasing water from Mullaperiyar.

Water from the Mullaperiyar dam is used for power generation at Lower Periyar and the tailwater is stored at the Vaigai dam to meet the lean season.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 4:21:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/poor-mullaperiyar-storage-hits-farming-in-cumbom/article31935566.ece

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