Overflowing tank brings bitter memories of Cyclone Nilam to ryots of Lakshmipuram in Visakhapatnam district

For farmers of Laskhmipuram near Chodavaram, the overflowing tank brought back bitter memories of Cyclone Nilam. With incessant rain under the influence of a low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal, the water from the tank overflowed under the long stretch of the bund and inundated standing crops.

Perhaps the plight of D. Venkataramana is illustrative of their lot for the second successive year.

No compensation

Mr. Ramana has lost crop in two-and-a-half acres in Nilam cyclone and so far not received any compensation for it. His understanding is that he would get a total of Rs.10,000. But before he could get any money misfortune struck again. “The rain for three successive days has again washed out our hopes of recovery,” says a crestfallen Ramana. Farmers say not all of them received the compensation for the loss in Nilam.

Others farmers like Malibabu and Kumara Swamy Naidu are equally worried. Paddy is in the stage of forming grain and will be totally lost, says Malibabu. Though there is some consolation that damage to sugarcane will be a mere 25 per cent. He and others have resigned themselves to a recurring loss in the kharif crop. With the tank being full they hope for a good rabi.

But for Ramana, who borrowed from private moneylenders, investing again is a problem. He sounds quite pessimistic narrating the experience of a relative. His uncle had borrowed from bank and it was after him to repay the loan. He felt quite humiliated by the repeated threats and finally sold the half an acre land he had to repay the loan. A week after he sold it, the government announced a loan waiver. Such loan waivers generally won’t help the small farmers as they pay up promptly, he points out.

“Our hope that we will get some foodgrains to sustain from the paddy crop is lost for the second time now,” he regrets narrating the fate that would befall people like him in a matter-of-fact, unemotional way with rain pouring all around and walking through the field. Now the only alternative left for people like him is to go to Visakhapatnam or Chennai to work as labourers. Most of them do so as to send money for the elderly to survive.

The tank with 656 acres of extent is the biggest in the district and has any ayacut of 1,200 acres at Lakshmipuram alone.

Three other nearby villages have some ayacut too, says sarpanch Ganapathi Naidu. Last time the bunds were strengthened using sand bags because if it breaches even Anakapalle would be affected, he said.

Water from Konam reservoir and Kakulagedda also join the tank causing the water levels to rise, farmers pointed out.

All the outlets of the tanks were also opened to let out the water. Malibabu says officials visited to monitor the situation.

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