Tamil Nadu misses Mettur water deadline this year too

Mettur Dam. File photo

For the eighth year in a row, Tamil Nadu Government has failed to release water on the traditional date of June 12 from the Stanley Reservoir for ‘kuruvai’ (short-term crop) cultivation by farmers in the fertile Cauvery Delta region.

This is also the 60th time in the history of the 86-year-old reservoir, built during the British era, that water has not been released on June 12 for the cultivation of the short-term crop. The development has raised doubts whether farmers will be able to save the crop this year at least – experts say the short-term crop can be saved if water reaches the Delta region by the end of July. 

The date for the release of water from the 86-year-old reservoir was set for June 12 keeping in mind the arrival of the south-west monsoon that usually hits Kerala on May 31 and Karnataka a little later.

The water storage at the reservoir is less than 50 feet and water is released for irrigation only if it touches 60 feet, officials said. As the deadline was missed yet again this year, farmers in the Delta region held protests demanding that the Tamil Nadu government and Cauvery Management Board (CMB) exert pressure on Karnataka government to release water from its dams. 

Last year, the dam had attained its full capacity more than once due to excess release of water from dams in Karnataka following heavy rainfall in the catchment areas. Unless the water is released from Karnataka dams, officials say there is no possibility of releasing water from Mettur dam for irrigation.

Around 16 lakh acres in the 12 delta districts depend on the dam for cultivation, which has been adversely affected over the past couple of years. Farmers also alleged that the Tamil Nadu government has not taken any steps to release water for irrigation in the Cauvery delta region.

P R Pandian, President, Coordination Committee of All Farmers' Associations of Tamil Nadu, told DH that the CMB should take responsibility for the Tamil Nadu government’s failure to release water on time.

“The CMB did not meet for six months and the Tamil Nadu government was also busy preparing for elections. The end result of the inaction is the failure to release water from the Mettur dam. The CMB should ensure Karnataka releases water every month as per the orders of the Supreme Court,” he said.

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