Thanjavur: Reaching water to tail-end Cauvery delta districts remains a major problem even in surplus years not because there are no rivers and canals, ponds and lakes in the districts, but because of poor irrigation and water resource management.
Consider the reality: Mettur dam has surplussed, i.e. crossed its full level of 120-ft twice this year that too within a short span of time-on July 23 and now again on August 11.(Water level touched 120 ft on Friday evening. Inflow into the dam was 1,32, 755 cusecs). But demand for water comes from farmers in tail-end areas, more so Pudukkottai and Tiruvarur districts.
“Water was released from Mettur dam on July 19 this year when desilting and maintenance works were still going on in many rivers, canals and lakes. Many of the works could not be completed. So water could not be stored, In some places, at the upper reaches, because of poor maintenance of river bunds, canals breached and water wasted. It is unfortunate that water is going waste into sea even though Mettur dam reached its full level twice this year. Immediately PWD engineers could do one thing. They can give water to Chennai city and fill up Veeranam,” said S. Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, who was happy that copious showers in catchment areas have filled up Mettur dam but very much concerned over wastage of water.
In Tiruvarur district, water has not reached many areas and farmers have announced agitations demanding water. According to P.R. Pandian, coordinator of the ‘Thamizhaga Anaithu Vivasaya Sangangalin Orunginaippu Kuzhu’, 25,000 acres of land could not be cultivated as water has not been let out into Vadavar extension canal. “Fifty per cent of the Kudimaramathu works taken up have not been completed. There is large scale corruption in utilising the funds allotted for PWD works. Because of this, though Mettur dam has suplussed twice this year, ponds, lakes, canals remain dry in Tiruvarur district. Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami should visit delta areas and see water reached tail-end areas,” Pandian urged.
Farmers of Pudukottai district also have been demanding water. Though water had been released into GA canal, it has not reached system tanks in Pudukottai district. Major portion of the district is rain-fed, but the major crop cultivated is paddy. If water fills up system tanks of GA canal and other tanks which are rain-fed fill up, one paddy crop can be taken successfully. Out of the total gross cropped area of 1,23,722 hectares, paddy is raised on 90,000 hectares. Paddy needs large quantity of water and hence farmers depend upon system tanks mainly fed by GA canal.
Pudukottai district has 5,451 tanks in the district. According to S. Somasundaram, district development manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) they should be regularly rejuvenated which includes clearing of inflow channels, outflow channels, deepening of tanks strengthening of bunds, strengthening of “Kalingu” (excess water will flow through this to other tanks). Most of the tanks created during royal period have excellent water connections with each other. “Encroachments in the inlet to rivers, improper desilting, lack of renovation of tanks have made them not in a position to get and store water. Encroachments should be removed and PWD should take up desilting, deepening, strengthening of bunds, works,” said farmers of Pudukottai district.