Salem, Tamil Nadu: The sluice gates of the Mettur Reservoir were today thrown open for delta irrigation even as a
flood alert was sounded with the water level touching 110 feet against the dam's maximum of 120 feet.
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Paneerselvam opened the sluice gates of the reservoir, releasing 9000 cusecs.
With the dam, the lifeline of farmers in Cauvery delta districts, receiving copious inflows in the past few days, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had yesterday ordered release of water for irrigation from today instead of August 15 as announced earlier.
Power generation was also started in the Mettur old power house, tunnel power house and six barrages.
The water release will help farmers take up cultivation in 15.58 lakh hectares of land.
Mettur Sub-Divisional Officer R Kovalan issued the flood alert to 12 districts downstream the reservoir stating that due to heavy inflow, the water level might reach the maximum of 120 feet soon and excessive water would be let out in the Cauvery.
The alert sent by e-mail asked district officials to take steps to move people living on the banks of Cauvery to safer areas.
Officials said the dam was getting an inflow of about 90,000 cusecs this morning but it has now come down to 42,000 to 46,000 cusecs with decline in discharge from Karnataka.
Karnataka had been stepping up discharge from its dams across Cauvery in view of copious inflows following heavy rains in catchment areas.
The storage level in the morning was at 76.576 tmc ft against the capacity of 93.4 tmc ft.
Initially, 9,000 cusecs would be released and it would be gradually stepped up.
Ministers Edappadi Palanisamy, P Thangamani, Thoppu ND Venkatachalam and V Senthil Balaji were also present when the sluice gates were opened.