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Optimism on Siruvani front

By Our Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE, JUNE 22. After lashing the catchments of Siruvani and Pilloor water schemes for more than a fortnight, the South West Monsoon has taken a break. For the last four days, the rainfall figures from the Siruvani dam and foothills revealed a sharp decline in the intensity of the monsoon. Moreover, reports of rain abating in Kerala, especially in the Siruvani catchment, only sought to confirm the lull. The situation was not any better in the catchments of the Parambikulam - Aliyar Project (PAP) making the happiness of the PAP ryots short-lived.

No rain was reported from the catchment today and yesterday. After hovering around the 100 mm-120 mm mark in the second week of this month, it dipped to around 70 mm towards the end of last week. (It rained 120 mm on June 13, 70 mm on June 14, 102 mm on June 15 and 90 mm on June 17.)

During the past weekend, it was reported to have rained between three and five mm. The city itself was warm today. The last heavy shower was reported in the middle of last week. However, there is enough optimism among water managers in the city and elsewhere in the district of averting scarcity in the next summer. And, an indication of this is the plan in most local bodies to release more drinking water and also pending water connections. After a long wait, the recent rain has renewed hopes of release of new connections that had been put on hold for over a year owing to the scarcity situation. Official sources in local bodies say that even last year's monsoons (both South West and North-East) and also summer showers had not benefited the water schemes to the extent of facilitating release of fresh connections. In fact, many town panchayats and panchayats dependent on the Siruvani scheme were even informed some months before last summer that they may even have to go without Siruvani supply till the next monsoon.

What provides a shot in the arm of the water managers now is the incredible rise in the storage in both dams well before the monsoon has turned vigorous. The level in the Siruvani dam has to rise only around 10 feet to touch the full reservoir level (FRL) of 67.65 ft. Even during normal monsoon prior to 1999, the FRL could be reached only towards early September, when the monsoon is close to end. The situation now is that Coimbatore is finding it hard to believe its luck with regard to the Siruvani storage. The monsoon normally turns vigorous only in mid-July and that is the time when the water level in the Siruvani and Pilloor dams rise appreciably.

The Pilloor dam has already surplussed this year owing to torrential rain in the catchment and also in the Nilgiris. This by itself lends confidence to the Coimbatore Corporation to manage scarcity, as it has already made provision for diverting Pilloor water to the Siruvani-fed areas in the city. But, the local bodies in the outskirts are not so lucky and are totally dependent on the Siruvani scheme.

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