For the first time in years, Tamil Nadu farmers hopeful of a samba crop
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For the first time in years, Tamil Nadu farmers hopeful of a samba crop

Mettur dam gates opened to release Cauvery river water on the orders of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2018 07:29 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Tamil Nadu farmers,Tamil Nadu,Mettur Dam
Officials have assured farmers that 20,000 cusecs of water would be released daily, enabling Samba cultivation.(PTI)

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday opened sluice gates of the state’s largest dam in Mettur to release water for the samba (long-term) cultivation in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Trichy districts, the rice bowl of the south. This will allow farmers to go for samba paddy cultivation after six years of crop failures and drought.

The gates were opened as Stanley Reservoir’s water level in Mettur crossed 100 feet for the 65th time since it was built in 1934, according to Tamil Nadu public works department records.

The level has been increasing since Karnataka began releasing water from Krishnaraja Sagar dam following heavy rains in the Cauvery river’s catchment area. The water level in the dam reached 109 feet on Thursday, while its capacity is 120 feet.

Palaniswami is the first chief minister to open the gates. Local district collector and Public Works Department (PWD) officers had until now opened the gates to release water.

“The legal struggle of (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) AIADMK government in the footsteps of our late leader, former CM J Jayalalithaa, has enabled us to retrieve the rights of Tamil Nadu over Cauvery,’’ Palaniswami said at the gates’ opening event.

“In the first meeting of Cauvery Water Management Authority on July 2, Karnataka was ordered to release 31 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu.”

PWD officials have assured the farmers that 20,000 cusecs of water would be released daily.

The farmers have started the preliminary works for samba cultivation over 16.02 lakh hectares in the four Cauvery delta districts.

Cauvery Delta Farmers Protection Committee general secretary CS Dhanapalan said the Mettur dam’s water level has crossed 100 feet for the first time since 2012-2013 season.

“The dam has reached 100 feet and we are hopeful of successful cultivation after six years of drought and crop failure issues.”

Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association’s Mannargudi S Ranganathan said it would take another 10-15 days for the water to reach the tail-end areas.

“So, farmers involved in the Kurvai (short term) crop harvest will start the preliminary works for samba in the upcoming week. However, the government should also de-silt all the channels of Cauvery within July.”

The state agriculture department on Wednesday advised farmers to take up the long-term variety (135 days), instead of midterm crops that the farmers had chosen in recent years, thanks to the water availability now.

“Since August 1 is the usual period for starting samba cultivation, the PWD should release 5,000 cusecs of water for drinking water needs until then. After that, the government can give 14,000 cusecs of water per day until the onset of the NE (northeast) monsoon,” Dhanapalan said.

A Public Works Department official said the government has plans to regulate the water supply. “With the available water, we can ensure supply until September. At the time, the water availability of the dam would be around 50 feet. However, the onset of the NE monsoon could further help farmers. So, long-term crops will be the suitable ones for the present water condition.”

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 07:29 IST