Depression in Bay sends hopes soaring

CHENNAI, NOV. 27. Hope for the water-starved northern districts of the State, including the city, now hinges on a deep depression which has formed over the Bay.

This system could bring rain as it crosses overland in the north Tamil Nadu-South Andhra coast on Tuesday night, the present forecast says. As the monsoon moves into its final phase, all eyes are focussed on the movement of this weather system.

On Monday afternoon, the depression lay about 800 km east southeast of Chennai, sources in the Meteorological department said.

``If the cyclonic system maintains its course, Chennai and suburbs may start getting rain from tomorrow afternoon or evening'', the sources said, adding that for the northern districts to receive rain, the depression should be within the range of the city.

``The more it goes north of the city, the chances of the State getting rain will be reduced'', the sources said.

For the last two days, Tamil Nadu has been undergoing a dry spell. This has been attributed to the presence of the depression.

Throughout last week, several areas of the State, especially southern and central districts, recorded heavy rainfall, thanks to a low pressure area. To farmers in the composite Thanjavur district, the rainspell came as a pleasant surprise. ``It was unprecedented and beneficial to the standing samba crop'', they said.

Since the onset of the northeast monsoon, the southern districts have received appreciable rainfall. The delta districts of Thanjavur and Tiruchi recorded 324 mm and 201 mm respectively till November 22. Among other districts with notable rainfall were Nagapattinam - 367 mm, Pudukottai - 240 mm and Tirunelveli - 136 mm while Ramanathapuram, regarded as a dry district, registered 303 mm of rainfall.

But, the northern districts did not receive much rain and as a result, the groundwater table continues to fall. In certain areas of Chengalpattu district, where water is normally available at an average depth of 60 to 70 feet, the table, at present, stands at about 100 feet, retarding smooth agricultural operations.

Faced with a dwindling storage in its reservoirs, Chennai depends heavily on rain during the current season for sustaining its water supply. ``Unless we benefit from this depression, we will be in for bad times next year''.

Though the rainy season failed last year, the officials managed the situation by drawing water from the Chembarampakkam tank and six well fields. But, this year, even these two sources are not available as they have been exploited substantially.

To carry on the present supply of 200 million litres a day (MLD) for the next 12 months, the city requires a minimum addition of 2,500 mcft to the existing storage. On Monday morning, the combined storage stood at 1,362 mcft.