Huge shortfall in cumulative storage of Nellai reservoirs

Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: Farmers and water managers here keep their fingers crossed as the district, which normally gets 374 mm of rainfall during October and November, has so far received only 199.91 mm this year, causing huge deficit in the cumulative storage of water in the reservoirs in the district.

According to the Collector, Atul Anand, the district, which received 960 mm rain between January and November 2004, had actually registered only 660.91 mm during the current year. Consequently, the dams, which had 93 per cent water against their total capacity, had only 44 per cent now. While 2,449 tanks in the district had water sufficient for two months, 333 tanks had water enough for just one month. Over 2,000 irrigation tanks were dry.

The Manimuthar and Papanasam dams, which were just two feet short of their maximum capacities of 118 feet and 143 feet during this period last time, now have 73 feet and 104 feet respectively.

However, the farmers have cultivated paddy on 27,045 hectares, grains on 13,643 hectares, pulses on 19,067 hectares, cotton on 5,018 hectares, sugarcane on 4,454 hectares and groundnut on 3,631 hectares. Paddy nursery has been raised on 4,285 hectares.

Though the farmers and the officials here are still hopeful of getting some significant rainfall during the remaining days of northeast monsoon, the cold temperature prevailing in the early hours predicts that there would be no more rainfall this year.

"Then the situation will be worse this time as we won't be able to provide water to the farmers from the dams till the end of pisanam season. Moreover, we have to keep sufficient water in the reservoirs to meet the drinking water requirements of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts during next summer. Since this dry season may witness Assembly elections, we'll have to face the agitating public everyday while the candidates meet voters," said a top PWD official here.

Addressing the farmers' grievance day meeting held at the Collectorate on Friday, Mr. Atul Anand appealed to the farmers to use water so judiciously so that the `white gold' could be made available to all agriculturists till the end of the pisanam season.