Chennai: 70-year-old S Govindaraj, a farmer in Tamil Nadu's Thiruvarur district, sowed paddy hoping the Cauvery waters would irrigate his four-acre field.
But the saplings he had planted began dying as the water released from the reservoir of Mettur Dam in the district did not reach tail end areas where his farm was located.
Unable to repay a loan of Rs 50,000, the farmer killed himself consuming pesticide, his family says. He was found dead near his field on Thursday.
His son, G Baskar, said, "With no rain and no water, we are in debt too. My father was under stress seeing the fields. He then consumed pesticide."
Not far away from Tiruvarur, in Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts, three other farmers reportedly collapsed and died seeing their withered crop in the last five days.
All of them were in debt and had suffered two successive crop losses. One of them, Alagesan from Tiruvarur, didn't even own land. He had cultivated a crop on leased land.
A sobbing Arockiya Mary, wife of Alagesan, said "What will I do with my three children. Will I be driven to the streets?"
Twelve lakh acres of farmland in the delta districts of Tamil Nadu depend on Cauvery waters for irrigation this season.
An expert committee told the Supreme Court that there was a shortfall of 17 thousand million cubic feet or TMC from Karnataka till October and another 22 TMC in November according to the Cauvery Tribunal's verdict. But Karnataka says it needs Cauvery water to meet the state's drinking water needs. The state is releasing 2,000 cusecs daily as directed by the top court.
DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan alleged, "The AIADMK government doesn't care. They should go to the villages and comfort people. This should not escalate."
The ruling party AIADMK's spokesperson C Ponnaiyan rebutted that charge, saying "The problem is because Karnataka is not releasing waters. The DMK's negotiation policy with Karnataka never worked."
Pushed to the edge, many farmers are now praying for a good north-east monsoon immediately which they say is their only hope for relief.