TIRUCHY: Yet another June 12, the date on which Mettur dam is to be opened for delta irrigation, has passed without release of water. This is the eighth consecutive year this has happened and farmers in the Cauvery delta are worried kuruvai crop would be lost forever if governments do not take decisive steps and ensure water.
The efforts by the Agriculture department to meet cultivation target go in vain due to unavailability of water. The area under kuruvai cultivation has shrunk drastically. At present, only those farmers who have bore-wells can take up cultivation. Those dependent on canal irrigation gave it up 8 years ago. With the severe deficit in the last Northeast monsoon and lack of summer rains this year, many farmers who cultivated kuruvai crop last year are in quandary.
Even those farmers with bore wells have decided to cultivate kuruvai in a lesser area. They are not clear as to whether they should go ahead with kuruvai this time. This is mainly because the farmers are not sure if groundwater would be adequate till completion of the cultivation. An agriculture official said, “I know a farmer who took up kuruvai on 10 acres last year, but is now planning to reduce the area. There is uncertainty over groundwater availability. If water dries up midway, he will suffer huge loss.”
Farmers said that if there is some spell of rains within a week or two, many farmers may get confidence to do kuruvai. They further said if water is released from Mettur dam by July or August, it would help recharging groundwater as they flows through canals. This may have been a great help for the kuruvai crop.
Somu Ilango, a farmers’ leader in Nagapattinam, said, “Kuruvai has turned a distant dream for us. The last time we cultivated kuruvai was 8 years ago. Farmers here now prefer samba cultivation.”
Mahadanapuram Rajaram, president of Cauvery delta farmers welfare association, has a suggestion: “Mettur dam is not opened on the customary date because of inadequate water but it closes by January end without fail. But all the dams in Karnataka continue to supply water for irrigation for the benefit of their farmers till May. If they do like this, how will there be any water in their dams to open to us in June?”
“The Cauvery Water Management Authority should ensure that all dams, both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, are shut on the same day ie., January end. The states should inform the details of the closing balance of water in their dams. This may prevent overuse of water by Karnataka,” he suggested.