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Unity of farmers must to save Cauvery delta, says expert

‘Government must first address basic challenges of the region and farmers’

Though Cauvery delta districts have been declared a protected agricultural zone by the State government, farmers have to work unitedly and cautiously to protect the delta on a sustainable basis, said S. Janakarajan, a water management expert.

Delivering the keynote address at a two-day Colloquium on ‘Cauvery – strategies to retrieve and rejuvenate river basin resources and waterbodies,’ organised by Tamil Nadu Rivers Retrieval Movement here on Saturday, Mr. Janakarajan said that under the protected zone scheme of things, the government, in consultation with stakeholders, must first address certain basic challenges that were seriously affecting the delta region and farmers.

Pollution of the river, rampant mining of sand from riverbeds and erratic rains were seriously eroding the economic status of the farmers, with serious social implications. About 30% of the delta population were landless labourers and people belonging to the marginalised and weaker sections of society. Over exploitation of groundwater was seriously affecting Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur districts. This would have serious repercussions if not immediately addressed by the new legislation brought in by the State government, he said.

He also appealed to representatives of farmers’ organisations and environmentalists to come out with a joint action plan to protect the delta.

S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, said that the Cauvery was a deficit river and the demand for water for various purposes had been steadily increasing and the situation had worsened with politicisation of the water sharing dispute in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Depletion of sand from the river had vastly reduced the holding capacity of dams during the very few surplus years. Farmers should think of adopting newer technologies and cropping pattern, depending upon availability of water in Mettur dam, he added.

T. Guruswamy, organising president of the colloquium, while outlining the objectives of the meet, said that farmers in the southern States were at loggerheads often with regard to distribution of water in the Krishna, Godavari, Cauvery and other rivers. A sense of unanimity on the importance of increasing demand for water, for irrigation, drinking and industrial development, would help them to come on a common platform to demand their rights.

Mahadhanapuram V.Rajaram, working president, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association; V. Subramanian, organising secretary; Puliyur Nagarajan, president, farmers’ wing of Tamil Maanila Congress; senior retired officials and representatives of various farmers’ organisations participated in the meeting.

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