Water shortage looms over Delta, west districts in Tamil Nadu

As of Sunday, the state’s water storage in 90 reservoirs is 61.554 tmcft out of 224 tmcft, a mere 27.44%
Cauvery water exit from Mettur dam in Salem district
Cauvery water exit from Mettur dam in Salem districtFile photo | Express

CHENNAI: Amidst the ongoing tussle with Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu, and intensified summer heat, the Water Resources Department (WRD) is struggling to meet water demand for drinking and irrigation purposes. As per the officials, by the end of April, they might be forced to cut down the 2,000 cusecs that are now being released from Mettur, leading to drinking water scarcity in Namakkal, Salem Tiruchy and delta regions. The storage was 34% two-and-half weeks ago and it has dipped by 6% since then.

As of Sunday, the state’s water storage in 90 reservoirs is 61.554 tmcft out of 224 tmcft, a mere 27.44%.

In Mettur, the perennial water source for both irrigation and drinking purposes, the storage level stands at 23.320 tmcft out of 93.470 tmcft (24.95%). Compared to the same period last year when the water storage was at 68.386 tmcft, Mettur has witnessed a significant decline of nearly 66% in water storage this year.

A senior official said as of now, WRD is releasing 2,000 cusecs of water from Mettur for drinking water purposes. “However, it is possible that the release of water will be reduced by the end of April,” he said.

He added that it would be impossible to release water from the Mettur dam for irrigation in June due to the declining storage levels.

K Raghuraman (45), a farmer from Tiruvarur, told TNIE, “We had already lost Samba season (September-December) and Thaladi (November-February) due to water shortage. Hence, we are waiting for the Kuruvai season (June-September) to start cultivation. But, as there is no water in Mettur, we might lose this season as well.”

Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam state secretary K Balasubramani added, “Though Mettur’s storage stands at 25% now, nearly 10% will be allocated for drinking water purposes until May, potentially affecting cultivation areas in delta districts. In the Kuruvai season, farmers usually cultivate around three lakh acres of land, but this year, it may not be possible.”

Another senior official from WRD told TNIE, “In the current water year (June 23 to May 24), despite a Supreme Court order mandating Karnataka to release 172.5833 tmcft to Tamil Nadu by April 4, the state received only 78.3992 tmcft.”

In a recent meeting held in Delhi on Thursday, Tamil Nadu had pressed for the release of 3.6 tmcft of water, but the Cauvery Water Management Authority denied the request urging both state governments to make judicious use of water in the reservoirs of the Cauvery basin, he added.

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