Delta farmers' prospects bleak, says Vivasyigal Sangham

CUDDALORE, OCT. 7. Even a one tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) shortage of water in the Veeranam tank will lead to crop losses worth Rs 8 crores, according to P. Vinayakamurthy, secretary of the Kollidam-Keelanai Paasana Vivasayigal Sangham.

In a statement released here today, Mr Vinayakamurthy said aycutdars (farmers) were alarmed over the tapping of water from the Veeranam tank for Chennai. If storage in the tank had increased recently, it was mainly due to realisation of Mettur water.

In effect the Government was drawing Cauvery water from the tank, at the cost of the Veeranam ayacutdars. Mr Vinayakamurthy said this would impact on the delta region, including Chidambaram and Kattumannarkoil.

Chennai requirements

He pointed out that not more than 1.5 tmcft of water could be drawn from the tank in a year, which could not meet the requirements of Chennai.

In the name of the New Veeranam Project, only the tank bunds were strengthened, but none of the 34 channels branching out from the tank had been desilted or cleared of encroachments.

With many of these channels choked with water hyacinth and other vegetation, tailend farmers were not getting their share of water.

'Give up scheme'

He appealed to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to give up the Veeranam project, and instead speedily set up a desalination plant and get the final award of the Cauvery Water Tribunal.

Meanwhile, she could initiate talks with Karnataka to get the quota for the season, Mr Vinayakamurthy added.

Meanwhile, the Cuddalore Collector, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, said the water level in the Veeranam tank stood at 45.7 ft today. A total quantum of 463 cusecs of water was being released, both for irrigation (415 cusecs) and for Chennai (48 cusecs), he added.