Chennai, Oct 2 (IANS) Ministers in the Tamil Nadu government formally opened Mettur dam, the lifeline of the agrarian belt, for irrigation on Monday — nearly four months after its customary opening.
Electricity Minister P. Thangamani, Higher Education Minister K.P. Anbalagan and Environment Minister K.C. Karuppannan opened the sluice gates around 9.30 a.m. and showered rose petals on the waters gushing out of the Stanley reservoir.
Initially, 2,000 cusecs of water was released from the dam and it will be increased to “15,000 cusecs by this evening to enable farmers take up samba crop cultivation”, Thangamani told reporters.
The amount of water released would be increased in the coming days based on the requirement in the delta regions, he added.
Owing to heavy rains, the dam’s water level increased significantly in the catchment areas in the last two weeks and crossed 90 feet some days ago — the mandatory level for release of water for irrigation purposes.
On September 28, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, expecting good showers in the coming days, ordered release of water from the Mettur dam to save crops in 16.04 lakh acres in the delta region.
He also announced a Rs 41.15 crore samba scheme for the Cauvery delta areas covering Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Tiruchi and Karur districts.
When the dam sluice gates were opened on Monday, the water level in the reservoir stood at 94.84 ft as against its full level of 120 ft.
The dam is traditionally opened on June 12 every year. It could not be opened on the fixed date this year, like the last five years, due to poor storage level, scanty rains and non-release of Cauvery water by Karnataka as per the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.
As on June 12, the dam had a mere 5.2 tmcft of water as against its full capacity of 93.5 tmcft. The water level stood at 23.68 ft. The minimum water level should be 90 ft and storage level of 45 tmcft to open the dam for delta irrigation.
Last year it was opened on September 9 after Karnataka released water following a Supreme Court order.