The southwest monsoon has made little impact on the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam which irrigated five districts of Tamil Nadu, in addition to meeting the drinking water needs there.
The catchment area of the dam received one of the lowest rainfall this season and the water level was remaining at a low of around 115 ft.
An official of the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department said the State was drawing only a minimum water for meeting the drinking needs. This was to keep the water level from falling to the minimum level.
Since the rain was poor this year, Tamil Nadu abstained from drawing water for irrigation purposes and if the situation continued, large stretch of cultivated areas would remain without water.
The drought had severely affected areas such as Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts and the farmers had to suffer severe losses. The main areas of cultivation in Theni district that included plantain, vegetables and coconuts were severely hit by lack of water.
After a long period, the water level dropped below 110 ft recently which led to cancellation of boating services in the Thekkady lake. Though boating was relaunched after the water level rose above the minimum level, the drop in rainfall affected the water supply, especially in the Cumbom Valley.
The farmers who had cleared the land for vegetable cultivation focusing on the Onam season in Kerala left the land idle for lack of water. Plantains and vegetables such as tomato, beans, beetroot, carrot, and green chilly were largely cultivated in the Cumbom Valley.
Farmers on Thursday held pujas to appease the rain gods. If the situation continued, the farming activities in the entire Cumbom Valley would come to a standstill.
The water level in the dam usually reaches the maximum by November/December. Ever since the water level was increased to 142 ft by the Supreme Court in 2014, the last two consecutive years saw it reaching near that level.
The main rainy season on the catchment area is southwest monsoon.