Madurai: Vaigai river, which irrigates 45,041 acres of land and supply drinking water for thousands of village in Madurai and neighbouring districts may dry up in another 20 days if it is not replenished by rain, the only water source. Thousands of acres of standing paddy is likely to wither and 670 revenue villages, nine town panchayats, three municipalities and city corporation in Madurai may not getting drinking water supply with no sign of sky opening up. Water level in Mullaiperiyar dam has dropped drastically to 111 feet.
The drought like situation has also dried up 1,343 tanks in Melur, Madurai and Gudur divisions in the district. “As water level stands at 22.40 feet as against its full capacity of 71 feet today, it is possible to supply water for drinking purpose only for next 15 days,” said a senior official at public works department (PWD). Cultivation of paddy in a total of 45,041 acres – 29, 501 acres in Madurai North Block, 13,747 acres in Vadipatti block in Madurai district and 1,793 acres in Nilakottai block in Dindigul district, depends solely on water supplied from Vaigai dam.
Nearly 2.44 lakh acres of land in Madurai depend on well and tank irrigation, said the official.
“With the failure of northeast monsoon, we are struggling to save our crops,” said a 40-year-old farmer Pandi from Thenpalangi village near Madurai. Due to the absence of rain in October farmers have cultivated only few acres of the land. Farmers in Cumbum valley, who cultivates three crops in 14,707 acres of fertile land throughout the year with water supply from Periyar channel, were unable to reap their first crop due to water shortage. “As nearly 30,000 wells have dried up, farmers of Manjalar Basin division were unable to cultivate paddy in 90,000 acres of land,” said M. Pandian, president of Madurai- Theni district Farmers Association. To mitigate the problem, Madurai district collector Veera Raghava Rao said farmers have been urged to cultivate crops that requires less water. To manage drinking water problem spots have been identified for drilling 500 bore wells in corporation and rural areas. District authorities already drilled 204 recharge pits and desilted irrigation channels and inlets to tanks so that water would be saved even if rains are late in December.