CUDDALORE: Located at the tail-end of the Cauvery delta, Cuddalore district has been at the receiving end of the drought that has ravaged the region for the past two years. Despite a four-month delay in the release of water from Mettur Dam, the farmers here had started agricultural activities, mainly water-intensive paddy. However, the situation turned grim due to lack of water especially during the growing season. With 45 days still remaining for the harvest, farmers are worried about the wilting of standing crops.
Around 2,500-3,000 acres of paddy field in the district are on the brink of withering away due to a lack of water. Instead of demanding compensation for the losses incurred, farmers here are demanding community bore wells that they believe would protect them during crises such as these.
Paddy is the primary crop in the district’s five blocks -- Bhuvanagiri, Kumaratchi, Parangipettai, Keerapalayam and Kattumanarkovil. Usually, farmers used to cultivate paddy in 55,000 hectares with the help of the Cauvery water, however, only 9,000 hectares could be covered under paddy cultivation this season as several farmers refrained from planting the crops fearing losses.
The cultivation started in the latter part of the season as water reaches the region a month after it is released from Mettur Dam. “Though water had to be released in June last, the shutters of Mettur Dam were opened only after a delay of four months, forcing farmers to postpone the farming to November,” said V Elankeeran, president of Federation of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association.
As such, the crops were still in the flowering stage and needed 45 days of growth further, he added. To address the crisis, farmers have been demanding the release of at least 15 TMC of water from the Mettur Dam as they hope a full harvest for the first time in the last two years.
Venkatesan, a farmer from Karmangudi, said not all could afford water from borewells and tankers they were small and medium farmers. However, with their investments at stake, the farmers are taking every possible measure to wade through the current samba season.
Citing the possibility of River Cauvery drying up soon, Elankeeran said the only possible alternative would be the construction of borewells for every 100-150 acres across the delta region. He also urged the officials to hasten steps to provide farmers with electricity connection for operating bore wells, the applications for which had been pending with the electricity department for several years.
dry and grim picture
- A total of 55,000 hectares used to be brought under cultivation in five blocks —Bhuvanagiri, Kumaratchi, Parangipettai, Keerapalayam and Kattumanarkovil
- Only 9,000 hectares were cultivated this season to cut down losses
- A total of 2500-3000 acres of paddy are facing water crisis
- Farmers began cultivation only at the end of November and early December after water reached the tail-end areas
- Construction of bore wells for every 100-150 acres across the delta region projected as a possible solution