DHARMAPURI: Residents of Hogenakkal who make a living out of tourism are severely affected as Cauvery river is in spate for close to a month. Water flow increased following intense rain in the catchment areas, and the level in Hogenakkal crossed two lakh cusecs last week. Though the water level has now reduced to 1.45 lakh cusecs, the Dharmapuri district administration has retained the ban order on tourism. Thirty four days have passed since the ban was imposed.
S Prabhu, coracle operator and member of Boatman and Cooks Association, said, “This year the impact has been dire. Usually during monsoon we are asked to suspend operations for a few days, but this year till date we have stopped operations for more than two months. The first ban was imposed in February, because of unseasonal rain. Now it is because of the monsoon fury. Coracle operators have a severe hit.”
“Usually during the off season, coracle operators fish in the Cauvery waters. But because of the intense flooding even this is not possible. Many people are looking for alternate employment. Some have become part-time workers in construction sites and agriculture labourers. During the Covid pandemic, the government offered financial assistance. We hope the administration would provide similar assistance now,” he added.
Angammal, a cook, said, “Because of the flooding we face two problems. The first problem is lack of tourists. As the falls are closed tourists do not come here. Moreover tourists are being turned away by police and revenue staff to prevent mishaps. The other problem is it is impossible to fish in the flooded Cauvery. So the price of fish has increased. Without regular customers we are unable to meet the expense. We hope the government can provide some sort of assistance to us.”
When contacted, revenue officials said, “Whenever water levels cross 10,000 cusecs, the coracle operation is stopped. Other tourism activities like Cine falls area will be closed down when water flow crosses 18,000 cusecs. This is to protect tourists. The flooded Cauvery waters are treacherous and even professional swimmers will find the current too strong. As for assistance, traders and coracle operators can file a petition to the government.”