18 May, 2021

There Isn’t Even A Straw Left

Scanty rains have left the fields in Tamil Nadu all dry. The farmers feel throttled.

Farmers from Tamil Nadu stage 100 days of hunger strike in Delhi
Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari
There Isn’t Even A Straw Left

The farmers in Tamil Nadu are a community who pray for rains in their neighbouring state as well. It’s an annual plea to god—and not exactly inspired by altr­uism. For, only a bountiful southwest monsoon can fill up Karnataka’s reservoirs along the Cauvery that feeds the sprawling rice fields eastward, across the border downstream. Today, Tamil Nadu faces its worst agriculture scenario in recent times: the rains were scantiest in 120 years when Karnataka, too, is facing a dry year. With very little Cauvery water from its riparian neighbour and even less from the skies, 2016-17 is proving to be Tamil Nadu’s most barren year in over a century.

There is deep worry among the ryots in the fertile belt comprising the middle districts of Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam that grow 16 lakh acres of rice. “If only Karna­taka reservoirs are on the brim can paddy cultivation flourish in our state,” points out Mannargudi S. Ranganathan of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Association. The area needs 330 tmcft (thousand million...

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