In a first for a Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi Palaniswami opened the sluice gates of the Mettur dam to release water for agriculture in the delta districts. The symbolism behind the act was not missed by many, with CM projecting the Centre’s decision to set up the Cauvery Management Authority as the state government’s victory.
With Karnataka receiving heavy rains recently, the water level at the reservoir stood at 109 ft on Wednesday. The last time the water levels at Mettur dam breached 100 feet was in 2014.
“In the footsteps of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, our government has made sure that Karnataka gives us the legally mandated water from Cauvery,” the CM said after opening the sluice gates.
2000 cusecs of water are being released from Mettur dam for agriculture. This will be increased gradually on an hourly basis and might touch 20000 cusecs, as per reports.
After opening the eight sluice gates of Mettur dam, the CM also laid the foundation stone for a stupa to mark the ‘achievement’ of his government obtaining permanent solution to the Cauvery dispute through legal intervention.
Reports say that as per the irrigation calender maintained by the Public Works Department (PWD), water is released for 230 days each year for paddy cultivation in the Cauvery delta districts spreading for about 15 lakh hectares.
In the previous year, Mettur dam was opened in October for agriculture in delta districts. This was done after a three-and-a-half month delay in releasing water owing to poor rains. The Mettur dam is usually done in June.
This year, despite a month’s delay in releasing water from Mettur, it is expected to help the farmers cultivate paddy.
The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) was formed by the Central government on June 1 and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee was formed on June 23. These two bodies were formed as per the Supreme Court order on February 16 on the Cauvery dispute.
The CWMA had ordered Karnataka to release 31.24 tmcft of water from Cauvery to Tamil Nadu in the first meeting of the Authority on July 2.
Karnataka has been witnessing heavy rainfall from the southwest monsoon this year. Owing to the copious rainfall in the catchment areas, the dams across the Cauvery were filling fast.
On Saturday, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited issued a flood warning to the low-lying areas around the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam. The alert was issued as water level in KRS dam was expected to reach its full capacity and ahead of water being released on Sunday.
An official from the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre also told TNM that water will be released from KRS dam once it touches 124.8 ft, which is the Full Reservoir Level. Around 20000 cusecs of water was released on Saturday evening to Tamil Nadu since the inflow to KRS dam was high.
On Monday, flood alerts were issued in Salem and Dharmapuri districts since the water discharged from Karnataka was expected to touch 90000 cusecs by the end of the day. The district collector of Salem had also said that once the water-level in Mettur dam reaches 90 ft, a report would be sent to the CM, who would then decide on releasing water from Mettur dam.