Rains do not cheer farmers

 Rains do not cheer farmers

K. Raju

Published: September 11, 2012

Farmers belonging to Cumbum valley are unable to raise first crop in double cropping area

Though storage level in Periyar dam has crossed 120.8 feet, a basic requirement to release water for irrigation, and there is heavy downpour in the catchment areas, farmers in the district are not enthusiastic as more than 85 per cent of land in the Cumbum Valley remains barren.

This scenario is being attributed to the vagaries of nature as the rains have come too late to raise the first crop in the double cropping area. Though storage level in Periyar dam is good and Agriculture Department has sufficient stock of fertilizers and certified seeds, it is not of any help to farmers.

The Public Works Department officials have started releasing 400 cusecs of water for irrigation and it is more than enough to irrigate the entire Cumbum Valley. Water has been flowing through 17 channels – eight in Cumbum, seven in Uthamapalayam and the rest in Chinnamanur and Palanichettipatti. This water will be utilised for protecting 6,000 to 7,000 acres in Cumbum bloc only. But it will not be used for filling up major irrigation tanks like Karungattan Kulam in rain fed areas, says PWD sources.

Illegal tapping

The storage level at Vaigai dam is very low. Even with the release of water from Periyar dam, it was able to get a meagre 21 cusecs only. It was said that more than 350 cusecs was utilised even before the water reached Vaigai dam and the PWD officials have blamed illegal tapping for this situation.

But, according to representatives of farmers’ association, there is no illegal tapping as there are no agriculture activities beyond Cumbum or Uthamapalayam bloc. They point their fingers at manufacturers of packaged water manufacturers in Cumbum, Uthamapalayam, Veerapandi and Palanichettipatti, who, they allege, are the major beneficiaries. These units have been lifting a large quantum of water from the river and channels to produce packaged water and market them in large scale in the district.

At present, drinking water being supplied through combined drinking water schemes in municipalities and town panchayats is of poor quality and in a way it helps the packaged water manufacturing units who are thriving.