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The fate of much of kuruvai and samba crops in Cauvery delta region will be decided by the Cauvery Management Authority when it meets next week.

The level in Mettur dam stands at around 57 feet and the shutters are typically opened for irrigation if the level touches 90 feet. Citing the low levels, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami had said it would not be possible to release water from Mettur dam on the scheduled date of June 12.

For the last seven years, the June 7 date has been missed. But, with the southwest monsoon coming true in Karnataka this year, farmers are hoping that it is still not too late to get water and have a good kuruvai crop. For samba to come good, they ask that the water should be released by Karnataka as mandated by the Supreme Court for July and August for samba.

The monsoon had set two days earlier in Karnataka this year. With good rains in catchment areas, Kabini dam is brimming while Harangi and Krishnaraja Sagar are 90% full, according to Deccan Chronicle.

“All reservoirs in Karnataka are full. They had to give up plans to construct smaller dams downstream of these big dams due to the efforts of our chief minister Jayalalithaa. But they have dug some 435 lakes to store water in recent times, which is the main reason for shortfall in water for us. In Thanjavur and Karur, kuruvai used to be cultivated in 6.5 lakh acres. This has come down to one-third over the last seven years. It is up to the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the authority orders the release of water as per Supreme Court orders,” says Vaigarai, a delta farmer.

If southwest monsoon continues then just the surplus water would be enough to save samba, says P R Pandian, a farmers association leader. “If the state government is able to ensure water release in July, then kuruvai too can be helped,” he adds.

Natural farming expert Nel Jayaraman supports the idea. He says unlike in the past when kuruvai needed 120 days, 90-110 day crops are available now, which can be taken up if water is released even if as late as July 10. “Cauvery is not just for irrigation. It recharges groundwater and is a major source of drinking water. The water release is doubly important,” he says.

“Unlike in the past when kuruvai needed 120 days, 90-110 day crops are available now, which can be taken up if water is released even if as late as July 10.” — Nel Jayaraman

Explaining the technical aspects, former PWD engineer A Veerappan says: “Since Karnataka is getting good rains, it is possible that they can release 20 tmcft water in 10 days. This would push up Mettur levels to 70 feet and water can be made available for kuruvai. For June, some 10 tmcft of water has come from Karnataka. For July, 34 tmcft and for August, 50 tmcft need to be supplied by the state as per the mandated schedule,” he said.

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