Sahdev Keluskar from the village of Tambaldeg, which lies in Devgad tehsil in Sindhudurg district, has lost his only mode of earning – his fishing boat. It was anchored to the beach he resides on. However, the Cyclone Tauktae caused it to crack right down the middle. He is a small-time fisherman who now has nothing to make a living from. Until the government immediately helps him with compensation, Sahdev will not be able to earn a living.
Tauktae had made its landfall in Gujarat, but wind and heavy rainfall has done a lot of damage, primarily in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. As per the state government's primary numbers, more than a thousand houses from coastal tehsils in these districts have suffered damage. Also, fishermen and fruit growing farmers, who largely cultivate Alphonso mangoes and cashew, have seen their trees being devastated.
Mahesh Bondale from Kunkeshwar village in Devgad tehsil lost almost about 20% of the mangoes he cultivated this season. The Alphonso mango season is between mid-March and the end of May. The farmers were on the last leg of plucking mangoes, but Tauktae didn't allow them to do so. "We would have finished plucking by May 25 had this not happened. With the summer season around we do get good rates for our produce during this time. But since last year, first due to the lockdown and now this cyclone, we have seen huge losses. This time, I lost almost 15% to 20% of the fruit," said Bondale.
Cashew growing farmers too have suffered due to the cyclone. Sachin Desai from Parule village in Vengurla tehsil of Sindhudurg district lost 30 cashew trees. "These trees were ten years old. Cashew trees generally have a life of between 20 and 25 years. My losses are not just for this year but for the next ten years," said Desai.
Keluskar, Bondale and Desai are just a few examples of many fishermen and farmers who have suffered. Fishing or horticulture are their sole source of income. They need immediate help to get things back on track.
Even after the fifth day of the cyclone's passing, more than 60 villages in Sindhudurg and almost 100 villages in Ratnagiri had not yet received electricity supply. The state government is mainly focusing on restoring electricity lines and clearing roads at the moment.
"We have given instructions to finish work on a primary report of the losses immediately. As soon as we get them, the cabinet will clear the relief package for the cyclone-affected people," said Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar. He rejected the opposition's allegations that the state government was insensitive to the plight of people from the Konkan region.
However, people from the area said that the state needs to hurry up with its efforts. "Twenty cashew trees that I had raised have fallen. I need to cut them and clear the area as soon as possible. But in order to get compensation, I will have to wait for officers to come and have a look. This wait can't go on for too long. The Monsoon is coming. I will have to see to other things too," said Dnyaneshwar Raorane from Lore village in Vaibhavawadi tehsil in Sindhudurg. A delay in this process will only add to the problems of the farmers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey of Gujarat after the cyclone hit the state. However, he didn't come to Maharashtra. He also hasn't announced any financial help like he did for his home state. The ruling parties in Maharashtra have attacked the PM for this. On the other hand, the BJP in Maharashtra is blaming Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for not having visited the Konkan region days after the cyclone had passed. Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis and a number BJP leaders reached the area before the CM. Politics continues to be at play while farmers and fishermen wait for necessary financial assistance.