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TN: Standing Paddy Crops Damaged in Delta Districts, Farmers Dismayed as Pongal Nears

The farmers in the delta region are badly affected by the incessant rains that lashed the area from January 7-8, leaving more than 75,000 acres of crops, particularly paddy, underwater.

The unseasonal rains during December and January in Tamil Nadu have resulted in a deadly blow to the farmers. The farmers in the delta districts are now suffering from severe crop damage, while farmers in the southern districts were victims of the incessant rains in the third week of December.

The farmers, particularly from Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Tiruvaru, and Cuddalore districts, were badly affected by the rains that lashed the region continuously for three days starting January 6.

More than 70,000 acres of agricultural land, primarily paddy fields, remained underwater for a week, leaving the farmers helpless since their efforts to drain the rainwater from the fields to water bodies failed. The farmers protested against the insufficient desilting works by the Public Works Department (PWD) that led to the prolonged water stagnation in agricultural fields.

The farmers are staring at a huge loss on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal. The Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha [AIKS]) has urged the state government to announce adequate compensation for the farmers to save them from debt.

The unseasonal rains, attributed to the El Nino effect and climate change, are having a telling impact in different districts in Tamil Nadu, with the farmers bearing the maximum impact. The delta region, known as the rice bowl of the state for its widespread paddy cultivation, is severely hit. The rains during the end of the first week of January in the region have left around 75,000 acres of crops damaged.

Mayiladuthurai district, which relies primarily on paddy cultivation, reported 30,000 acres of damage due to the rainfall. Standing paddy crops of both Samba and Thalady, ready for cultivation for the Pongal festival, are damaged beyond retrieval.

Speaking to NewsClick, Durai Raj, Mayiladuthurai district secretary of the AIKS, said, “The standing paddy crops have been underwater for almost a week; even the water has begun to recede. But saving the paddy crop is not a possibility now. The AIKS is demanding the state government to announce a compensation of Rs 35,000/acre”.

The lodging of paddy crops close to harvesting in water for more than two days results in germination. The efforts of the farmers in the Mayiladuthurai district to drain the water to the nearby water bodies failed due to inadequate desilting works by the PWD. The farmers held black flag protests against the apathy of the officials as well.

Other seasonal crops, including sugarcane for the Pongal festival, tur dal, ground nut, and millets, are also damaged in the Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts.

Agricultural lands, around 25,000 acres in Nagapattinam, 20,000 acres in Thanjavur and 7,000 acres in Cuddalore districts, are also badly affected due to the rains and inundation in the fields.

“The ministers and officials have visited the affected areas in the region. The government has yet to announce any relief for the farmers, though the Pongal festival is hardly a couple of days away. We urge the government to quicken the process to save the farmers from financial and mental stress,” Raj added.

Most of the districts in the delta region recorded more than 20 cm of rainfall within 24 hours on December 6, followed by moderate rains for the next two days, resulting in extensive damages. The government of Tamil Nadu is yet to come out with a detailed assessment of losses.

Earlier in December, the farmers from Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi suffered damages of about 2.5 lakh hectares of agricultural lands cultivated with paddy, millets, pulses, oil seeds and cotton. A total of 1,00,175 farmers from Thoothukudi district alone faced massive losses.

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