Want individual compensation even if a few trees are damaged

A number of banana orchards in Lalgudi taluk have suffered seriously due to the gale that swept the area recently.

K.Muthukumar, a farmer, who has raised banana in two acres in Pinnavasal village (Poovalur panchayat), lamented that almost his entire orchard was devastated causing a loss of about Rs.70, 000-80,000 per acre.

He estimated that at least 300-400 acres in his village should have suffered a similar fate.

Asked about insurance coverage, he said that he could not get even a paisa as the nationalised bank from which he has borrowed has not bothered to collect any premium from him.

Besides, even if he had insured, he is not certain whether he is entitled for any compensation. “The insurance company pays only if the entire firka was affected and not some fields,” he contended.

This was the major issue haunting the banana growers of the district, known for its banana quality.

“We live in constant fear of high velocity winds as our survival might be swept out,” laments S.A.Sukumar, State president, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers’ Federation. It is the summer crop which fetches us good money, but it’s also the same season when summer gale could blast our trees out of shape – virtually ruining us, he told The Hindu.

“We could not get a paisa from insurance companies despite more than six lakh banana trees, including some orchards completely, being devastated by the summer gale in Thottiam taluk of the district on March 25 last year,” rues G.Ajeethan, general secretary of the federation. Ironically, despite banana being notified for insurance coverage in the area, most of the banana crops were not covered under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS).

“Though banks used to deduct five per cent of the loan towards insurance premium they rarely gave us any compensation whenever our orchards suffered due to gale,” they alleged.

“We do not want compensation per taluk or block. We want individual compensation even if a few trees are damaged,” they pleaded.