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MSMEs in delta districts staring at Rs 150 crore loss

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TRICHY: Apart from taking a toll on agriculture and the livelihood of villagers, cyclone Gaja has wreaked havoc in the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) units across Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts. Since coir pith blocks are largely utilised in horticultural and organic farming practices, coir fibre production units are the worst hit among MSMEs. Official sources pegged the overall property loss for the units at more than Rs 150 crore in the four cyclone-hit districts.

With as many as three industrial estates in Pudukottai district, sources said that MSME units in these estates besides those scattered along Alangudi, Keeranur and Aranthangi have suffered heavy damage. District Industries Centre (DIC), the guiding agency for MSMEs, stated that around 150 MSME units including 75 coir production units in Pudukottai had suffered extensive damage. DIC Pudukottai has asked the associations representing MSMEs to report the property, material and machinery loss incurred in the disaster for alerting the MSME ministry.

“Ancillary units on Trichy-Pudukottai main road supplying boiler parts to BHEL have suffered severe infrastructure and machinery damages,” said N Kanagasabapathy, president of Trichy District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (Tiditssia). It is a double whammy situation for all the damaged coir fibre production units in the cyclone-hit districts since they have also lost their source of raw materials with coconut farms razed to the ground. N Elangovan, joint director (engineering) and general manager of DIC Pudukottai said that the overall loss incurred by MSMEs may go beyond Rs 50 crore as the damages were yet to be ascertained in a few parts of the district.

In Thanjavur, at least 45 coir fibre production units were ravaged in Peravoorani, Pattukkottai and Orathandu, the stronghold of coconut farms. “Raw material stock of coir fibre units can sustain only for a month, after which we are uncertain about sourcing raw materials to produce coir fibres. More than 5,000 people are dependent on the coir units for their livelihood,” G Raveendran, general manager, DIC Thanjavur, told TOI. The damages to coir fibre units are all set to make an impact on the production of coir pith blocks extensively used in horticulture and organic farming practices as a replacement for the soil for growing crops.

In Tiruvarur, at least 100 MSME units including 30 coir units, rice mills and oil mills were severely affected in the cyclone. Roofs, retaining wall and also the machinery in the units were damaged last week, and the overall loss due to the cyclone has been pegged at Rs 50 crore. “Not all MSMEs have insured the properties as this was an unprecedented disaster. Muthupettai, Mannargudi and Tiruthuraipoondi towns are the worst-hit,” an official source said. Since the components of rice mills would be in high elevation, the infrastructure of rice mills became soft targets. Though Nagapattinam district has not got any coir fibre units, infrastructure of welding and PVC pipes production plants and hollow block manufacturing units near Vedaranyam were severely damaged in the cyclone.

“Nagapattinam MSME association has been requested to submit the overall report on damages encountered by the entrepreneurs. The nsuing months will be a tough time for them, particularly for those who were running the business through bank loans,” an official source added. DIC sources across the delta districts claimed that only adequate compensation would ensure normalcy and ensure that the devastated MSMEs were back to business.

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