TN in a fix to save paddy crop as Karnataka goes dry

TN in a fix to save paddy crop as Karnataka goes dry

TN in a fix to save paddy crop as Karnataka goes dry
The new AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu will be facing a tough challenge this season to save Kuruvai crops, which are dependent on Cauvery water.

With water level at the Mettur Dam, the lifeline of delta farmers, reducing to less than 50 feet, the state government is facing a crunch situation to release water on June 12 -- the scheduled date for opening the shutters of the reservoir to release water for agriculture purpose.

A Public Works Department official on Thursday told DH that water could be released when the dam water level reaches 90 feet. “Since Karnataka is facing severe drought, the neighbouring government is unlikely to release any water at this point of time as the Krishnaraja sagar Dam, which supplies water to several towns there, is getting dry,” a senior official pointed out.

He also said that the water level in Mettur Dam as on Thursday was 47.23 feet. The three districts in Tamil Nadu — Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam, comprising more than 20 Assembly segments, produce 25 lakh tonnes of paddy every year with Kuruvai and Samba (types of paddy) being cultivated in about 20 lakh acres.

Of the total agriculture land in delta areas of the state, Kuruvai alone is cultivated in about five lakh acre in Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and some parts of Salem.

Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association president S Ranganathan said as the Kuruvai crop season (May-September) is expected to begin shortly, water scarcity looms large and even wells are getting dried up.“For paddy planting, we can use groundwater for the time being. If the water is not released for us at the right time, all the crops will go dry,” Ranganatham from Thanjavur district said over phone.

He also pointed out that last year, the Mettur shutters were opened in August since the southwest monsoon was active in Karnataka only during that period. He further said that last year, Karnataka released only 139 tmcft against the total of about 200 tmcft. “However, due to good rain, we could manage to cultivate Kuruvai and Samba in right time,” he added.