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Farmers demand water till April 10 to save standing paddy crop

Farmers in Ballari taluk and Alur taluk of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, have urged the authorities to extend release of water to the low-level canal up to April 10 to save the standing paddy crop in Ballari taluk.
Addressing a joint press conference here on Thursday, Darur Purushotamgouda president of district unit of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene, and Ramreddy Samadgeri, farmer leader from Holagund Kurnool district, said that the quota for Karnataka comes to an end on March 31. Due to climatic change, the growth of paddy crop was affected and needed wetting till April 10.
“Farmers of Ballari taluk are demanding extension of release of water for ten days to save the standing crop and also the farmers to get good yield. If not, the farmers will undergo losses. To prevent this they will have to draw water from Andhra quota ultimately leading for clash between farmers”, they said.
Purshotamgoud informed that the Tungabhadra dam had excess storage of seven tmc feet. Release of one tmc feet was all that was required to save the standing crop and avoid the possible clashes.
Endorsing his views Ramareddy said extending Karnataka’s quota will help farmers of both the districts to reap good yield.
Purushotamgouda urged the minister and elected representatives of Ballari to take up the cause of the farmers with the Tungabhadra Board and ensure that farmers interest is protected by extending the release of water to Ballari taluk by ten days.
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“Paddy crop on over 19,700 acres withering”

With the closure of all the 17 irrigation channels in Cumbum Valley, paddy crop on 14,707 acres in the valley and 5,000 acres irrigated by Thanthai Periyar Channel has started withering.

“Farmers harvested 10.14 tonnes per hectare, the highest in the State, during the last season. But, we may harvest only half the quantity now. The production loss is estimated at 80,000 tonnes,” say members of Cumbum Farmers Association.
YEARNING For water:A paddy field in Cumbum Valley in Theni district.— PHOTO: G. KARTHIKEYAN
The worst-affected are farmers in Gudalur and Cumbum blocks, where the crop is 80 days old. One wetting with the release of 25 cusecs of water for five days will suffice to protect the crop on 2,000 acres, they say.


In other areas, the crop is 35 to 60 days old. It requires water for 45 to 60 days. The farmers will lose Rs.25,000 to Rs.35,000 per acre, they add.

They say PWD officials refuse to release Periyar dam water for irrigation.

The level in the dam stood at 111 feet, and water can be released till it reaches 104 feet.

The officials want water to meet the drinking water needs of 65 lakh people living in Madurai, seven municipalities, 736 town panchayats and over 2,000 panchayats in five southern districts till June.

Poor planning, lethargic attitude of the government, violation of government orders, excessive political intervention in releasing water and illegal tapping in the Periyar river are the reasons for the present situation, the valley farmers say.

The PWD had drawn water from Periyar dam to improve Vaigai dam storage level, expecting rain in October and November, but there was no rain.

They released water from Vaigai to irrigate the first crop in Madurai district in June, instead of September as done normally, says progressive farmer A. Abbas.

Illegal tapping is also rampant in Periyar river. Kerala is drawing a lot of water from leading supply channel of Periyar river. But Tamil Nadu did not prevent it. Over 25,000 oil pumps are used to draw water illegally from the Periyar river between Gudalur and PC Patti to save perennial and cash crops, allege farmers.

“We are tired of staging protests demanding water, as the government has failed to understand the situation,” says H. Sowber Ai, secretary, Periyar Irrigation Farmers Association, Uthamapalayam.

“Now the paddy crop is at milking stage in Uthamapalayam,” he noted.



Farmers badly in need of water to save crop

Farmers are desperately in need of the Tamirabharani water to save standing paddy crop.

To safeguard the livelihoods of paddy farmers, water is required to irrigate paddy fields, according to K.P. Perumal, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam.

At this critical stage, the farmers were looking forward to get water for irrigation at least in two spells. The standing paddy crop had attained ear head emergence and milky stage and hence water is the need of the hour. The northeast monsoon failure had already dashed the hopes of farmers this year also, who were now largely dependent on irrigated farming.
Question of Survival:A view of the paddy field at Korampallam in Tuticorin on Tuesday.— Photo: N. Rajesh
On the wetland ayacut, paddy cultivation was normally taken up on 18,000 to 20,000 acres. “The entire district has 46, 000 acres of ayacut covered under irrigation system. Apart from paddy, the farmers are also pinning their hopes on banana cultivation,” he said here on Tuesday. Fifteen to thirty quintals of paddy yield could be got if sufficient water was released to irrigate the paddy fields, he added.

Farmers in the tail-end regions in Korampallam were bearing the brunt of inaccessibility to water.

N.K. Dhakshinamoorthy, Joint Director of Agriculture, Tuticorin, told ‘The Hindu’ that to avoid moisture stress and ensure better yield of paddy, water resources were essentially required especially at the tail-end regions at this stage. About 1, 500 acres to 1, 800 acres of paddy crop were in flowering and milky stages in the tail-end regions in Korampallam, Mr. Dhakshinamoorthy said.

Four blocks including Alwarthirunagari, Karungulam, Tiruchendur, Srivaikuntam and some parts of Pudukottai had been identified as potential irrigation pockets in the district.

Cultivation of paddy, millets and rice fallow pulses would be taken up under State-sponsored summer programme after ‘pisanam’ season. Under the summer package of food grain mission, paddy cultivation is expected to cover 2, 500 ha, millets on 4, 500 ha and rice fallow pulses on 12, 500 ha. Soil with residual moisture would be conducive to raise these crops.

The officials from Department of Agriculture had been streamlining activities to achieve the objective of good yield of produce, hopefully. The farmers in these identified blocks would be trained on suitable methods of cultivation and better management practices to achieve the desired results, the Joint Director said.

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