TAMIL NADU

Above-normal rainfall brightens prospects of paddy cultivation

S. Sundar

MADURAI: The above-normal rainfall recorded in Madurai district since April has brightened the prospects of paddy cultivation. Farmers are expected to reap a rich harvest after a gap of seven years.

As against the normal rainfall of 612.3 mm between April and October, this year the monsoon has showered 765 mm, that is 25 per cent higher than the normal precipitation. It was in 1998-99 that the district registered 1076 mm of rainfall that led to paddy cultivation on 88,338 hectares.

"This year we are hopeful of cultivating at least 70,000 hectares," S. Tirugnanam, Joint Director of Agriculture (in-charge), said.

From the dilemma of whether irrigation would be possible, owing to poor storage in the Periyar and Vaigai dams during the beginning of the season (June), the recent showers in catchment areas and a huge inflow have raised the hopes of going for a second crop in the double crop area.

While harvesting has begun in certain pockets such as Chathrapatti and Kallandiri, most of the standing crop in the double crop area is in the flowering stage. As far as single crop area is concerned, the cultivation is at different stages.

"The standing crop is around 65 days old in most of the areas. That the tanks in the entire district, except for Tirumangalam, Usilampatti and Peraiyur areas, are brimming is very encouraging," Mr. Tirugnanam said. The tank storage is expected to last for two months of irrigation.

Apart from the huge storage in Periyar and Vaigai dams, the district is expected to receive rainfall till December 15.

Unlike in other parts of the State, so far, the northeast monsoon had been beneficial to the district, Mr. Tirugnanam said, adding that even in the 1500 acres of land that was submerged in flash floods in Melur, standing crop on only 250 acres was damaged beyond 50 per cent.

This year's most interesting feature was that the standing crop did not face any kind of pest attack and farmers were expected to harvest more than the normal yield, he said. As against five tonnes per hectare, the yield had been more than 6 tonnes, he said. Though Usilampatti and Peraiyur areas received unusually a scanty rainfall, the Public Works Department was able to supplement irrigation with impounded water.

Water level

The level in the Periyar dam stood at 123.7 feet with an inflow of 2321 cusecs and a discharge of 1000 cusecs. The level in the Vaigai dam was 55.51 feet with an inflow of 3487 cusecs and a discharge of 41 cusecs. The combined Periyar credit rose up to 5408 mcft.

Rainfall

Uthamapalayam and the Sothuparai dam received a rainfall of 35 mm each, followed by Gudalur 18, Periyar dam 16, Marudhanadi 15, Tekkadi 13, Vaigai dam 8, Veerapandi 3, Shanmuganadi and Manjalar dam 2 mm each.

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