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Public Works Department issued the first flood warning for people living along the banks of the Vaigai two days back. But, farmers of Madurai district are still wondering as to when water would be released from the Vaigai dam to irrigate over 1.50 lakh acres of ayacut in the district.
Madurai would not have faced such an ironical situation in the recent past with excess water in the dam, but not a drop released for irrigation, say farmers and an irrigation engineer.
Water for the single crop area – around 86,000 acres in Melur region and 19,000 acres under Tirumangalam Main Canal – and the second crop of the double crop area – 45,000 acres between Peranai and Kallandiri – will be released any time on or after September 15 as and when the combined Periyar credit touches 6,000 mcft.
“It is still a mystery as to why water has not been released, as promised by the district administration and PWD officials, though the combined Periyar credit crossed 6,000 mcft five days back (on Saturday),” asked M. Murugan, president of Periyar Single Crop Area Farmers’ Association.
Scores of farmers met the Collector, L. Subramanian, and PWD Executive Engineer M. Muthupandi, on November 16, seeking water release. Their grouse was that they had already missed two long months of the irrigation period.
“Farmers are ready with 20 to 30-day-old paddy seedlings for at least 50 per cent of the ayacut in Melur region. With the recent rain others have also started to raise nurseries,” Mr. Murugan said.
“Every day farmers are waking up expecting the good news of water release, but they get only disappointment,” he added.
“It is ridiculous that storage in both the dams is on the verge of surplussing, but water is not released for irrigation. The officials have defeated the very purpose of the dams,” said former Executive Engineer of Periyar Vaigai Division C. Suthanthira Amalraj. He blamed the officials for having denied the opportunity of giving farmers the maximum benefit for land preparation with minimum release of water during rainy days. “The wet condition would have helped officials to ensure that water reached the tail-end areas,” he said.
Pointing to the limited capacity of drawing water from Periyar dam (maximum of 1,800 cusecs), Mr. Amalraj said that one good spell of rain would take the water level beyond the permissible level of 142 feet in Periyar reservoir, resulting in precious quantity of water wastefully draining into Kerala side.
Missing the season
Another farmer, M. Tirupathi of Kulamangalam, said that missing the most appropriate season for paddy cultivation often lead to lesser yield. “Starting irrigation in the Tamil month of Karthigai is already too late. Release of water during rainy days would have helped us (double crop area farmers) for land preparation with minimum water,” he said.
P. Ravi, secretary of Periyar Single Crop Area Farmers’ Association, said the farmers had lost 20 crucial days of farming operation due to delay in water release. “It might have a cascading effect of water shortage during the final stages of farming,” he said.
Mr. Murugan wondered why the officials were waiting for a Government Order while the PWD Compendium of Rules has clear cut water management rules.
From: The Hindu