Though it is still a bit early to commence samba paddy cultivation, the copious inflow into the Mettur reservoir has raised hopes of a bountiful harvest among farmers of the Cauvery delta this year.
With kuruvai cultivation still under way in the filter point areas in the delta districts, it is quite early for farmers to prepare for the samba season.
The rather sudden and unexpected surge in the storage position in the Mettur reservoir, thanks to the heavy monsoonal rain over Kerala and Karnataka, and the State government’s decision to open the dam for irrigation, have caught farmers of the delta region rather unprepared.
“It is too late for kuruvai and too early for samba. The opening of the Mettur dam could have been delayed a bit as kuruvai harvest is still under way in places where cultivation was taken up with the available groundwater. Besides, the kudimaramathu and maintenance works on canals are still goin on. It would have been ideal if the opening of the dam had been pushed to the end of July,” observed Mannargudi S.Ranganathan, General Secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association.
Nevertheless, farmers are looking for a good season ahead. “The conditions are favourable this year for a single crop in the 15 lakh acres downstream Mettur which are dependent on the Cauvery water for irrigation. After more than a decade, people in the entire Cauvery delta region are eagerly waiting to celebrate Aadi Perukku festival and look forward to a good samba crop this year,” said Arupathy P. Kalyanam, General Secretary, Federation of Farmers Associations Cauvery Delta Districts. He, however, laid stress on efficient water management and formation of regulator committees with representatives of the respective ayacut areas to oversee the water release.
Despite the confidence induced by the nature’s bounty, there are still some concerns among farmers. “Though we are still not ready yet for samba cultivation, the prospects for the season seems very good. But to take full advantage of the situation, the government should ensure liberal sanction of crop loans unconditionally and ensure seeds and fertilizers are available without any shortage,” said Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Thozhilalar Sangam district vice-president V. Jeevakumar.
Claim surplus water
Meanwhile, a section of farmers have been seeking to draw the attention of the State government to the fact that Karnataka was releasing only the surplus flow, mostly from Kerala.
Mr. Kalyanam wanted the State government to raise this significant point with the Cauvery Water Management Authority. “Karnataka is releasing only the surplus flow and this should not be taken in to account of monthly releases as stipulated by the Cauvery Tribunal and the Supreme Court of India. The State government must make a strong representation with the Cauvery Management Authority that the unutilised water from Kerala should be released to Tamil Nadu in addition to its share of water allocated by the Cauvery Tribunal in its final order,” he said.
The Tribunal had allocated 30 tmc of water to Kerala and all the water that is unutilised by the State legally belongs to Tamil Nadu as per the tribunal final order, he maintained. It is important that Karnataka releases the unutilised water of the Kabini Sub Basin (21 tmc) in addition to the share of Tamil Nadu. “As of now Kerala was utilising just about one or 2 tmc in the Kabini sub basin and around 19 to 20 tmc is unutilised,” he claimed and added that the Tamil Nadu government must immediately lay claim to this legally.
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