If an elusive monsoon has triggered protest by Karnataka farmers in the Cauvery basin, fear of losing the Samba crop across nine lakh acres in the delta made a group of Tamil Nadu farmers rush to meet Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday.
Siddaramaiah, who gave a patient hearing to the farmer leaders from the neighbouring state, apprised them of the distress situation that has resulted in poor storage in the reservoirs.
The chief minister has called a meeting of floor leaders and district incharge ministers of the aggrieved districts in the Cauvery delta on August 27 to discuss the distress situation in the basin.
"Karnataka is under distress due to rainfall deficit and we have no water to provide to our farmers who have already carried out sowing. In fact, we have asked others not to sow as there is dearth of drinking water. It has become difficult even to release the allocated quota of water as per the distress sharing formula," said Siddaramaiah, while speaking to the delegation of Tamil Nadu farmers, led by ex-MP Ramalingam.
The chief minister, however, assured the delegation that water would be released once the monsoon picked up and the reservoirs were replenished. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has ordered to file a petition in the Supreme Court to get the state's share of water.
In a memorandum submitted to the Karnataka chief minister, the farmer leaders representing the farmers' association of Tamil Nadu, raised concerns over the delay in opening the Mettur dam on the due date (first week of June).
"A few decades back, we could cultivate three crops—Kuruvai and Thaladi (short-term) and Samba (long-term). But, due to delay in discharges from Mettur, we are able to grow only Kuruvai and Samba. However, the last few years we have lost even the Kuruvai crop as the Mettur dam was opened very late. (It was opened on September 6 in 2002, October 7 in 2003, August 14 in 2004, August 4 in 2005, September 17 in 2012, August 2 in 2013, August 10 in 2014 and August 9 in 2015. This year too, no water has been discharged from Mettur dam due to poor storage. Successive failure of crops has made livelihood an issue. We urge you to save the Samba crops across the nine lakh acres by ensuring release of water at the earliest," they stated.