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Will summer rain save south from water crisis?

Southern districts are facing the heat of the summer and the resultant water crisis in the second week of April itself.

Will summer rain save south from water crisis?
Women wait in long queues in Madurai to fetch drinking water (Photo: Imthiyas Ali)


Water level in the dams across the districts is going down at an alarming rate. With two more months of summer ahead, people in the southern districts are bracing to tackle severe shortage of drinking water. 

The failure of north east monsoon in 2016 has left most of the reservoirs dry across the state. Farming activities came to a standstill earlier. Very little water stored in the lakes and dams is kept aside for drinking water purpose. Even that is fast depleting now. 

The water level in the major dams, which supply drinking water to the cities and towns in the south, are receding at an alarming rate. Vaigai and Periyar dams play a major role in supplying water to Madurai and its surrounding areas. Similarly, Papanasam and Manimutharu dams supply drinking water to Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts. 

PWD officials in Madurai said, “The present water level in both Vaigai and Periyar dams can cater to the drinking water needs of Madurai district only for 20 days.” Madurai Corporation requires 6 cusecs a day for drinking water supply. At present, there is hardly 4.84 feet of water in Vaigai dam that can be supplied to the city. The situation in Periyar dam is no different, the officials added. 

The situation is similar in Tirunelveli too. PWD officials said that the present level in the dams can withstand for just a month. At Papanasam dam, the inflow is 58 cusecs, but the discharge is maintained at 204.54 cusecs. The Manimutharu dam is receiving a meagre 13 cusecs, while the discharge is 50 cusecs.

However, the officials feel that all is not lost as the southern districts have been witnessing sporadic summer rains. “If the summer rains lash at frequent intervals, the water shortage problem can be tackled effectively till the end of May,” a PWD official hoped. Will the cyclone forming in the Bay of Bengal be of any help in the coming days is a big question. 

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