SALEM: Sluice gates opened in the presence of Minister for Electricity and Excise P Thangamani; initial quantum of 2,000 cusecs released, which expected to help samba cultivation in over 16.5 lakh acres in 11 districts; though 100 days late, farmers happy to receive the Cauvery; many of them avoiding midterm seed varieties
It was more that three months behind schedule, but when the sluice gates of Mettur dam were opened at 10 am on Monday for releasing Cauvery water for irrigation in the delta, there was happiness all round.
An initial quantum of 2,000 cusecs was released, which is expected to serve samba cultivation in over 16.5 lakh acres in 11 districts. The release of water will also facilitate 400 MW generation of hydro electric power.Electricity Minister P Thangamani said the government would release up to 15,000 cusecs in a phased manner. The statement prompted farmers to seek the remaining 73 TMC of water from Karnataka.
Speaking to Express, ‘Cauvery’ Dhanapalan, general secretary of farmers’ welfare society in the delta area, said, “Though 100 days late, we are happy to receive Cauvery waters for samba cultivation, If the government releases 15,000 cusecs, it would be sufficient for 65 days. However, in order to save samba crops, we would need water for 135 days.”He added, “Due to this, many farmers are avoiding midterm seed varieties with a life of 135 days and preferring short-term seeds, which are for 80-90 days.”
This is the sixth consecutive year that water release from Mettur dam for Cauvery delta irrigation was behind schedule. The customary date of commencing delta irrigation is June 12 and the dam is closed on January 28. Kuruvai, the first crop, was entirely given up by delta farmers in the last two years because of lack of water storage as on the customary date. Last year, delta irrigation commenced on September 20, when the water level of the Mettur dam was 87.01 ft as against 90 ft, the minimum required level. The storage was 50.39 tmcft and inflow was 10,023 cusecs. The situation this year is better as the current water level is 94.84 ft and the dam holds 58.35 tmcft of water as against its full capacity of 93.5 tmcft. The inflow on Sunday was 13, 928 cusecs.
In 84 years, the Mettur dam had been opened on June 12 only 15 times; on 11 occasions it was opened before scheduled and 58 times behind schedule.Though the storage and inflow were dismal as on June 12 this year, things improved from July first week, when Karnataka started releasing water from Krishnarajasagar and Kabini dams.While farmer groups in Karnataka put up a strong resistance, its Chief Minister Siddaramaiah justified the release, saying he had go by the Supreme Court’s order. In the wake of intensified Southwest monsoon, Karnataka had to continue releasing water as part of flood management, if not for political and legal reasons.
Yet what Karnataka officially gave till date was only 64 tmcft as against the Cauvery Tribunal award stipulated quantum of 134 tmcft, according official sources.Rains in the lower catchments, below Krishnarajasagar and Kabini also contributed to much of the inflows into the Mettur dam though rains in the local catchments (Mettur) was negligible. Mettur dam’s storage and water level jumped in the last fortnight and crossed the 90-ft mark, which possibly prodded the State government to order the commencement of delta irrigation from Monday.
Date of opening Mettur dam in last 10 years
Customary date to release water: June 12
2007 - July 18
2008 - June 12
2009 - July 28
2010 - July 28
2011 - June 06
2012 - September 17
2013 - August 02
2014 - August 10
2015 - August 09
2016 - September 20 (most delayed opening in a decade)
CM orders water release from 4 dams
Chennai:Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday ordered release of water for irrigation from four dams — Papanasam, Servalaru and Manimutharu — in Tirunelveli district and Bhavanisagar in Erode district, from October 5. Water will be released through 10 canals from the three dams in Tirunelveli district and benefit 86,107 acres in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts.