“Cauvery Delta and Protected Special Agriculture Zone”

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  • Published
    20th Feb, 2020


In a significant decision, the Tamil Nadu government has announced Cauvery delta region as Protected Special Agriculture Zone to prevent implementation of oil exploration projects in the state’s rice bowl.

A brief about Cauvery Delta

  • The Cauvery Delta lies at the bottom of the Cauvery river basin. The river Cauvery is the fourth largest river of the southern region and flows from North West to the south-east.
  • Cauvery Delta zone consists of four districts of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Thrivarur and parts of the district Trichy, Cuddalore and Puddubbottai in Tamil Nadu.
  • Cauvery Delta zone has a total geographical land area of 1.45 million Ha which is equivalent 11% of the area of Tamil Nadu state.

  • In the Cauvery Delta rice is the principal crop; it is either single or double-cropped. A third crop rise is also grown during summer in some parts.
  • Because of plentiful rainfall during North-East monsoon and good irrigation facilities rice is the most suitable from September to December.
  • The landholdings in the delta are quite small with more than 75% are one ha or less. Population growth has progressively diminished the size of landholdings.

Type of season:

  • Tamil Nadu is heavily dependent on monsoon rains and thereby is prone to droughts when the monsoons fail.
  • The climate of the state ranges from dry sub-humid to semi-arid. The state has three distinct periods of rainfall
    • The south-west monsoon from June to September, with strong southwest winds
    • North-East monsoon from October to December, with dominant northeast winds
    • The dry season from January to May
  • The normal annual rainfall of the state is about 945 mm of which 48% is through the North-East monsoon, and 32% through the South-West monsoon.
  • Since the state is entirely dependent on rains for recharging its water resources, monsoon failures lead to acute water scarcity and severe drought.

What is Protected Special Agriculture Zone (PSAZ)?

  • A Special Agricultural Zone is one where agricultural land is preserved for posterity because of its importance to increasing agriculture production and promoting livelihood security for a large number of farm families.
  • The idea is very similar to the theme of the Special Economic Zone. The difference is that there is no statutory backing as yet to the concept of Protected Special Agriculture Zone (PSAZ)


Since Climate change is a threat to agriculture, efforts should be taken to mitigate the risk. PSAZ can be a starter at least in drought-prone areas. Once implemented at the micro-level, its findings can be used to scale up the project. While ‘Oil” and ‘Gas’ are essential components of civilization, then so is food security. The tough times call for a coordinated action plan. The Government of India must brainstorm ideas keeping in view the bigger picture.


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