With the Mettur dam, the lifeline of the Cauvery delta, getting ready for the commencement of water release for irrigation on the customary date of June 12, water managers are keeping their fingers crossed about Tamil Nadu getting sufficient flows in the Cauvery in the coming months.
There is a palpable sense of anxiety among the managers as the southwest monsoon is yet to set in. The monsoon already missed its onset date of June 4 over Kerala, though the India Meteorological Department, while forecasting the date last month, provided a margin of four days.
On Wednesday evening, a senior official of the department said the onset was “expected in 48 hours”.
In view of the importance of the monsoon for the Cauvery catchment in Karnataka and Kerala, the water managers hope the delayed monsoon would not lead to any unpleasant situation similar to what the State had experienced in the past.
Since 1991, there had been 20 occasions when Tamil Nadu’s realisation was below its share, as prescribed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its interim (1991) and final (2007) orders and by the Supreme Court for the period. It was another matter that in some of those years, when the water year was over in May, the State received a higher quantity than the overall annual figure, the latest being in 2021-22.
As for the coverage in the Cauvery delta under the short-term Kuruvai season, it remains to be seen whether the State would continue its dream run of 2021 and 2022 or hold on to its normal coverage of 3.2 lakh acres. The coverage was 4.9 lakh acres in 2021 and 5.36 lakh acres in 2022.
As on Wednesday morning, the Mettur dam’s water level stood at 103.6 ft (full level: 120 ft) with the storage being 69.62 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) as against its capacity of 93.47 TMC. On the corresponding day last year, the water level was 114.75 ft and the storage 85.34 TMC.