Burdwan, Aug. 11: The irrigation department today decided to stop releasing farm water through Durgapur barrage following a message that the Damodar Valley Corporation will stop supply from its Maithon and Panchet reservoirs.
The decision may spell disaster for farmers in Burdwan, Bankura and Hooghly, where about 45 per cent of the transplantation of aman paddy is yet to be completed because of deficient rain in July across south Bengal.
Officials said the levels of the twin reservoirs have drastically gone down over the past few days because of scanty rain in Jharkhand.
“The first phase of water release from the Maithon and Panchet reservoirs is being ended tomorrow. The water release started from July 20. After about a fortnight, the situation will be reviewed again and release of water will begin in the second phase. We need good rain in the meantime to increase the level of the Damodar and the Barakar rivers,” irrigation minister Ganesh Mondal said in Calcutta.
Durgapur barrage released about 11,000 acre-feet on Tuesday following a discharge from Maithon and Panchet.
“From tomorrow, we will stop releasing water for irrigation. We were forced to take this decision following a fax message from the Central Water Commission office in Maithon today. We can only release water if the situation improves and heavy rain pushes up the levels of the Damodar and the Barakar,” said Manas Kumar Bharati, the executive engineer in charge of the Durgapur barrage.
At Maithon, the water level stood at 454.16 feet today, only about 3 feet above the minimum level required.
At Panchet, the water was 395.9 feet, about 5 feet above the minimum.
Officials said there is about 105,800 acre-feet of water at Maithon and Panchet at the moment. “But it is not possible to release this water for irrigation. It is for drinking and to feed industries and power plants,” an official said.
Bharati said the irrigation department has requested the water commission to release at least 3,000 acre-feet daily to keep the beds of the irrigation canals wet and maintain the minimum required level.
“We are totally dependent on water from Durgapur for our aman transplantation. Minus it, we won’t finish,” said Arun Ghosh, a farmer cultivating aman paddy over 10 bighas at Alishah in Burdwan.