Groundwater salinity hits paddy in Mayiladuthurai

While sporadic rains across Mayiladuthurai over the past few days brought temporary relief, farmers are longing for more.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

MAYILADUTHURAI: With groundwater depleting in the coastal delta region and Cauvery water yet to reach, farmers are pinning their hopes on the rains this week to save their crops. The saline groundwater and algae growth have taken a toll on samba and thaladi paddy cultivation.

While sporadic rains across Mayiladuthurai over the past few days brought temporary relief, farmers are longing for more. N Manikandan, a 35-year-old farmer from Maraiyur in Mayiladuthurai said, "I have been cultivating around five acres of long duration crop 'Uma' for the past 15 days.

The crops have now been engulfed in blue green algae due to the salinity in groundwater. I am hoping for more rainfall this week." According to the agriculture department, around 23,000 hectares of samba and thaladi paddy are currently being cultivated in Mayiladuthurai, and the farmers are predominantly dependent on groundwater irrigation.

In the absence of Cauvery water, which normally replenishes the groundwater table, the district's groundwater table has seen a steady decline. According to the Water Resources Department, water is currently released from Mettur Dam at an outflow of around 500 cusecs, while the inflow is 7,392 cusecs.

The water level in the dam is currently around 42 feet, and the dam continues to receive inflow due to rains in catchment areas and a meagre amount is released from Karnataka. >From the Grand Anaicut Dam (Kallanai), the release of waters in Cauvery, Vennar and Grand Anaicut Channel is zero, while 1,770 cusecs of Kollidam water is being released from the Upper Anaicut Dam (Mukkombu).

"I am cultivating long duration crop CR-1009 on around four acres for four weeks. A brief downpour rejuvenated the crops, but not enough to save them from algal growth and salinity. We are praying for more rainfall," said K Senthil (47) of Semangalam village in Sembanarkoil block.

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