Chief Minister M.K. Stalin raised the shutters of Mettur dam for Kuruvai cultivation in delta districts on Tuesday.
Minister of Municipal Administration K.N. Nehru, Minister for Water Resources Durai Murugan and senior officials were present during the event.
About 3,000 cusecs of water were released initially from the dam. The discharge would be gradually increased to 10,000 cusecs, officials said.
At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the water level at the dam was 117.76 ft as against a total scale of 120 ft. The stored capacity of water in the dam was 89,942 mcft.
Officials said this was the first time that water had been released in the month of May instead of the customary date of June 12. [In 2011, water was released on June 6.]
About 125 tmc water is required to irrigate 5.22 lakh acres of farmland in delta districts for Kuruvai cultivation in which 99.74 tmc of water would be released from the Mettur dam and the remaining requirement would be met through rain and groundwater supply.
The discharge from Mettur dam would be gradually increased to 16,000 cusecs in July and to 18,000 cusecs in August.
For samba and thaladi irrigation, water would be released from the dam between September 15 and January 28 to irrigate 12.10 lakh acres of land. Around 205.6 tmc of water is required to irrigate farmlands during the period. Through discharge from the dam, 108.5 tmc of water would be supplied.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duraimurugan said in a statement that about 82% of the desilting work in Cauvery delta districts had been completed and the remaining work would be completed by May 31.
Desilting work for 4, 964 km began on April 23. So far, works had been completed in 4,047 km, he said. Efforts were under way to complete 210 km a day with additional machinery at work, the Minister said.