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Cyclone Gaja unleashes fury on banana plantations in delta districts

Green grave:A sea of banana trees felled by Cyclone Gaja at Panayapuram village in Tiruchi on Friday.G. Gnanavelmurugan

Cyclonic storm Gaja, which swept across the delta districts early on Friday, has caused extensive damage to banana plantations in Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts.

Banana trees, ready for harvest in many places, were felled in Tiruchi and delta districts. Mango and coconut trees have also suffered damage in parts of the region.

However, the standing samba paddy crop does not seem to have suffered much damage. With the Public Works department reducing discharge from Mettur dam over the past few days after the cyclone alert was issued, the paddy crop in many places, especially in Vennar division, was badly in need of water. In such places, the rain has come in handy.

“By and large, there has not been much damage to the samba paddy crop, except possibly in a few places,” said Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Organisation.

In many places, the crop is about 60-65 days old, and in places where the farmers opted for late samba/thaladi, the crop is very young. Since the rainfall was not too heavy, except in a few coastal areas, it will not face much problem.

But the State government must not assess crop damage using satellite images. On an earlier occasion, the images showed even cultivated areas to be fallow as only a colour code is followed. The government, instead, should resort to an aerial survey using helicopters, possibly with the help of the Army, he contended.

The kuruvai crop, on the other hand, has had its share of problems this year.

The late kuruvai crop in parts of Nagapattinam district has been badly affected. The crop, which was ready for harvest, has been flattened and farmers will be badly affected, rued Cauvery S. Dhanapalan, general secretary, Cauvery Farmers Protection Association.

The samba paddy, however, will not suffer much damage, he said echoing Mr. Ranganathan’s view.

According to Puliyur A. Nagarajan, president, Farmers wing of the Tamil Maanila Congress, fully grown banana trees have been uprooted in Lalgudi, Andhanallur, Thottiyam, Manachanallur and Manikandam areas in Tiruchi district.

Mr. Nagarajan estimates that banana crop in about 10,000 acres must have been damaged. He wants a complete survey of the damage and sanction of at least Rs. 5 lakh an acre to affected farmers.

Banana trees in Thiruvaiyaru, Kumbakonam, Valaiyapettai and Aduthurai in Thanjavur district have also reported to have been damaged.

Most banana growers do not insure the crop as the premium is high, said Swamimalai R. Vimalnathan, secretary, Thanjavur Cauvery Farmers Protection Association.

Hence, such natural calamities can have a crippling effect on their livelihood, he pointed out.


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