Clock ticks away as Cauvery delta farmers continue to wait for water

Published: 27th August 2016 04:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2016 04:52 AM   |  A+A-

THANJAVUR:Karnataka has promised to consider their request for immediate release of water. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the plea seeking water on September 2. But for thousands of farmers in the Cauvery delta region of Tamil Nadu, each passing day is a step closer to yet another crop failure – something they cannot afford. A majority of them had to even skip the short-term kuruvai crop for want of water.  The customary date for opening of the Mettur dam for kuruvai is June 12. From July 14, the discharge is stepped up for the long-term season – samba. But it is already August, and there is no sign of water being released, noted farmers.

This has effectively foreclosed the option of cultivating varieties like CR1009 – a long-term paddy crop that can withstand floods and drought. If this variety is to be taken up, it should be planted before the first-week of September. Even if water is released now, it would take a few days to reach the smaller channels that carry the water to fields. The options left for farmers now are medium duration varieties like CO-43, ADT-46 and BPT 5204 that have a duration of 135 days. But there is a catch even to that: if the transplantation is delayed, it would have to face the fury of the north-east monsoon during the flowering stage.

During the samba season, paddy is cultivated in about 3 lakh hectares of land, spread across Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagappattinam districts. Any delay in water release would also lead to decrease in acreage, which again would affect the overall grain production. Together, this could have a serious impact on the food security of the State, which will also have a cascading effect on neighbouring states. Meanwhile, considering the State government’s plea for an urgent hearing, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on September 2.

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