Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Tuesday oversaw the opening of the sluice gates of the Mettur dam in his home district of Salem. The dam, which receives water from the Cauvery has been witnessing massive inflows thanks to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of the river.
However, this is for the eighth consecutive year, that the dam’s gates were not opened on the stipulated date of June 12 for samba (short term crop) cultivation.
According to Public Works Department (PWD) officials, the water level that in the dam rose to 102 feet on Thursday morning compared to the 92 feet on Monday night.
The released water would reach the Kallanai dam from where it would be diverted to the Cauvery and Vennaru river in the region. “It is supposed to reach about 37 subsidiaries of the river. However, it would take weeks to reach based on the inflow,” PWD officials said.
On Tuesday, 3,000 cusecs of water was released from Mettur Dam which will be gradually increased up to 10,000 cusecs. The water released is expected to benefit as many as 6.5 lakh hectares of farm land in 12 districts of the state’s delta region. The officials claim that it would replenish ground water level in the region.
However, farmers in the Delta region allege that the amount of water released would not be enough to reach the tail end of the Cauvery river.
However, Palaniswami said that they would increase the level gradually. Stating that all the dams in Karnataka have reached their full capacity, the Chief Minister said, “We would get enough water. Now, farmers are into seedling work. So, water has been released for it. Later, when paddy planting begins, we would release additional water.”
Federation of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Association general secretary Arupathy P Kalyanam said that the water will reach all the tributaries of Cauvery and Vennaaru river, only if the government releases about 50,000 cusecs of water from Mettur dam.
According to Kalyanam, besides the 15 tributaries of Vennaaru and 21 tributaries of Cauvery river, there are about 1665 ‘A section canals’ in the Cauvery delta region through which the farmland are being watered.
“Like A section canals, there are 25,000 B, C, D, E section canals in the region. With this rate of opening the water, it would never reach the tail end and would serve the purpose of getting the water from neighbouring State,” Kalyanam said.
Kalyanam said that they have also submitted a representation to the Tamil Nadu government but they have turned a deaf ear. “If the water does not reach the canals in the Cauvery delta region by first week of September, the Samba cultivation could not be taken up,” Kalyanam said.
Kalyanam also warned the government not to waste water by letting it into the sea since we don’t have enough storage capacity.
According to sources, nearly 100 TMC of Cauvery water was let into the sea in 2018 through Lower Anicut in Cuddalore district. In the past too, in 2000, about 385 TMC and in 2008, about 114 TMC of Cauvery water went untapped and let into the sea.
According to Cauvery delta region farmers’ welfare association vice president Kannan Pillai, the water would not reach because of the various hindrances in the tributaries. “There are huge constructions of bridge in between the river. If they release the water at this level, it would not go beyond the main tributaries,” he claimed.
Earlier, Cauvery water was released even when the dam level was at 50 feet. “Now, the department has been waiting for the Chief Minister’s appointment to open the sluice gates and have opened it only after it attained a level of over 100 feet against a total of 120 feet,” he alleged.
He further said that the water would benefit the people only if the release a minimum of 25 cusecs because of the poor management of the river channels. “Due to the illegal sand mining, the depth of the river channels have increased and dam sluices are in the heightened. So, only after the reaches the sluices level, it would overflow and flow into the rivers. Thus, at least to reach the sluice level, government should release more water,” Kannan said.
When asked the reason why the Government was not ready to release more water, a senior official in the Public Works Department who did not want to be named said that they would release up to 10,000 cusecs with the available water.
“Depending on the inflow, this year, we have plans to release upto 25,000 cusecs. But, it all depends upon the rainfall in the catchment area and the amount of water released from Karnataka,” the official said.
Officials in the Agriculture department in the Delta region said that they have already distributed about 400 tonnes of medium term paddy seeds that would grow from 145-155 days.
“But, it can be sown only in the first week of September depending upon the reach of Cauvery water. We have also stocked about 500 tonnes of other medium crops which would also recommended depending upon the monsoon,” an official in the agriculture department in Thanjavur said.
Mettur dam was opened in view of heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka.l Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Tuesday oversaw the opening of the sluic the catchment areas of the river.