Tamil Nadu stares at water crisis as Mettur reservoir dries up

Last Updated 08 March 2015, 19:30 IST

Despite receiving excess rainfall during the north-east monsoon season, Tamil Nadu is bracing for an acute water crises this summer with several reservoirs, including Mettur, drying up fast.

Sources from the Public Works Department (PWD) said water at Mettur, the lifeline of delta farmers, plunged to 74 feet on Sunday against its full capacity of 120 ft.

They attributed the dip in water levels to poor inflow, as the reservoir received just about 190 cusecs and had to discharge 1,000 cusecs for drinking purposes.

Officials also pointed to the increase in day time temperature for the past one week, an indicator of the onset of summer, as one more reason for the rapidly depleting water reserves.

Also, Tamil Nadu recorded 65 per cent deficient rains between January 1 and February 28, the period when it should have received 30 mm of rains despite the withdrawal of the north-east monsoon about two months ago.

“Nilgiris is the only district in Tamil Nadu that received good rains during the last one week,” a senior met official said.

Just a few weeks ago, water levels in Mettur hovered around the 90 feet mark, since the inflow from Krishnarajasagar and Kabini reservoirs was about 8,000 cusecs.

“The outflow from the dam will be reduced if the present situation continues. If the water levels drop below 60 feet, we cannot release water for the farmers,” a PWD official said.

Similarly, information available as on 6.30 am on Sunday revealed that the water levels at the Bhavanisagar dam stood at 80 feet against its full capacity of 105 feet. Despite not receiving water, the dam releases about 600 cusecs per day.

Water levels at Papanasam also dropped to 30.8 feet against its capacity of 143 feet, while Parambikulam had levels of 26.7 feet against its full capacity of 72 feet.

Water levels at Mullaperiyar dam, which touched 143 feet in November last year after three decades, plunged to 120 feet.

A recent CAG report had said Tamil Nadu does not have effective control over its surface water resources, despite having to depend on its neighbours Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Ineffective planning and delay in implementing a series of irrigation related projects had put paid to the state’s objectives of improving its irrigation potential.

About Rs 505 crore has been locked up in 16 irrigation projects ranging from one to eight years.

In Chennai, an aggregate of water levels in the four reservoirs that supply drinking water to the city shows that they are cumulatively down by at least 1,000 million cubic feet.

(Published 08 March 2015, 19:30 IST)

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