Wet spell raises farmers' hope

Wet spell raises farmers' hope

While the water level in the Mettur reservoir on Monday noon stood at 101.10 feet (against its full level of 120 feet) following good rains in the Cauvery’s catchment areas last week, the “sporadic thunder storm activity” in Chennai and other coastal districts in the past few days have buttressed their hopes. “The loss in the ‘kuruvai’ (short-term) paddy crop this year cannot be replaced due to the late release of Cauvery waters from the Mettur dam on August 7 (against the traditional date of June 12, every year), but the ensuing ‘samba’ paddy season is quite encouraging,” S Ranganathan, General Secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, told Deccan Herald. “With the water level in the Mettur reservoir at above 100 feet and the north-east monsoon (usually due to hit the State in October third week), expected to be normal, we can expect a fair ‘samba’ crop this year,” he said.

The State government has also stepped up the outflow of water from the Mettur reservoir for delta irrigation from 15,000 cusecs to 22,000 cusecs, which has been helpful, he said. The planting of the long-term paddy has commenced in most of the Cauvery delta areas and in the next four to five days, 20 per cent of the area will be completed. The farmers in all hope to plant “samba” paddy in over ten lakh acres this year, he added.

The “kuruvai” (short-term) paddy, depending on the timely onset of the south-west monsoon in June, is usually planted in 4.5 lakh acres in the Cauvery delta, but this year it slumped to 1.5 lakh acres, Ranganathan said.

But this shortfall “cannot be made up” during “samba” as per hectare productivity in the latter would be much lower, he pointed out. Delta farmers could have started early planting of “samba” paddy this year, but ironically, despite adequate availability of seeds and fertilisers, it has turned out to be a “belated season,” said Ranganathan.

The main reason for this was the “belated” bank credit and the undue delay by the State and Central government agencies in farmers getting the insurance relief for the crops damage they had suffered due to the “Nisha” cyclone last year, the veteran farmer said.
The release of water from the Mettur reservoir for irrigation “could not be properly used” for nearly one month due to lack of cash in farmers hands, he pointed out. “We lost ‘kuruvai’ paddy this year and only those farmers who had borewells could raise the crop; we are now pinning all our hopes on ‘samba’ paddy this year,” said Rangasamy, another farmer of Mannargudi area.

At up-stream Mettur in Salem district, PWD sources said the water level in the Stanley reservoir there this year was higher than the corresponding period last year, though the inflow since Sunday has come down to 14,168 cusecs.