TAMIL NADU

Kuruvai outlook bleak, says farmers’ leader

A.V. Ragunathan

Prospects of water release from Mettur Dam look dim



Water release only after storage level in Mettur Dam touches 55 ft

Non-availability of loan worries farmers; Rs.500 crore used for servcing the NABARD loans



VILLUPURAM: With the prospects of water release from the Mettur Dam looking bleak, the raising of kuruvai crop in the delta region has become a big question mark. If water is not made available at least by month-end, kuruvai crop is as good as lost, said K. Balakrishnan, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham.

Mr. Balakrishnan told The Hindu that in a representation, he had requested Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to broach the subject with the Centre during his visit to New Delhi.

The Tamil Nadu Government had ruled out water release until the storage level in Mettur Dam touched 55 ft. as against the present level of less than 32 ft.

Obviously, the dams in Karnataka too had got poor storage.

But when the southwest monsoon got active, the dams there might get filled, and the Karnataka Government would as usual let out the excess water.

But the Karnataka Government had taken the stand that after the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal was announced, the interim reward had become nullified.

With the final award now referred to the Supreme Court, the Karnataka Government contended that it was not under any obligation to implement either the final or the interim awards.

Mr. Balakrishnan suggested that in such circumstances, the Tamil Nadu Government should insist upon the release of water on a pro rata basis; in other words, based on the inflow the Karnataka Government should release the share due to Tamil Nadu.

Drought situation

He pointed out that the 20 to 25 lakh farming families, including three lakh farm labourers, in the delta region were apprehensive that the prevailing situation reminded them of the drought that prevailed for three years from 2001 to 2004.

Mr. Balakrishnan further said that what was causing worry to the farmers was non-availability of loan.

Of the budgetary allocation of Rs.1,625 crore made towards reimbursement of farm loans (that were waived), a major chunk amounting to Rs.500 crore had been utilised for servicing the NABARD loans.

The remaining sum was mostly shared among the State and district-level cooperative banks, and only a negligible amount was passed on to the primary agricultural cooperative banks.

Priority

Mr. Balakrishnan urged the Government to reverse the trend in which the primary agricultural cooperative banks should get priority in fund allocation so the farmers could access loans when needed.



Water release only after storage level in Mettur Dam touches 55 ft

Non-availability of loan worries farmers; Rs.500 crore used for servcing the NABARD loans





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