The opening of Mettur Dam for Cauvery delta irrigation on Friday at 12.30 pm has ushered in joy for farmers of Thanjavur and Tiruvarur.
The farmers say that though the Stanley Reservoir has been opened 50 days after the customary date of June 12, this year the Kuruvai acreage has improved significantly compared to last year, thanks to the package announced by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Out of the normal coverage area of 40,000 hectares in Thanjavur district, it was estimated that 15,000 hectares could alone be under Kuruvai crop taking owing to the depletion in groundwater.
However following the announcement of CM over uninterrupted power supply for 12 hours and free inputs like bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and HDPE pipes, farmers started showing interest in raising Kuruvai crop.
The gradual building up of storage in Mettur dam and the availability of power supply beyond the assured 12 hours have now aided the Kuruvai cultivation and strengthened the hopes of farmers.
“As on July 31, the cut-off date for Kuruvai transplantation, in Thanjavur district 27,700 hectares have been covered under Kuruvai paddy”, J Sekar, Joint Director of Agriculture, told Express. This is 6,050 hectares more than last year coverage of 21,650 hectares.
Similarly in Tiruvarur district, against the normal coverage of 35,000 hectares, this year around 17,500 hectares have been covered. This is 4,454 hectares more than last year coverage of 21,650 hectares, Agricultural department officials said.
PWD officials at Mettur dam said an initial quantum of 12,000 cusecs was released on Friday into the river for irrigation and 500 cusecs each into the East and West Bank cannals. PWD Minister K V Ramalingam pressed the switch to lift the sluices of the dam.
Revenue Minister Thoppu N D Venkatachalam, Highways Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy, Industries Minister P Thangamani, Salem MP S Semmalai and Mayor S Soundappan were present on the occasion. Petals were sprinkled into the water that was gushing out of the dam
Meanwhile, due to rising inflows, the reservoir was nearing surplus level and there was a possibility of floods, sources said. The Mettur Dam water level was hardly 15 feet as against its full height of 120 feet prior to the south west monsoon.