The Janata Dal (Secular) on Friday said that arecanut and coconut plantations spread over lakhs of acres have suffered damage on account of heavy rainfall and drought in the coastal and southern districts of the State, respectively, and demanded immediate release of monetary relief to affected growers.

Addressing presspersons here, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly H.D. Kumaraswamy said that damage to coconut and arecanut plantations has been estimated at Rs. 3,200 crore. Heavy, incessant rain since the beginning of June in six districts of Malnad and coastal Karnataka has dealt a serious blow to arecanut growers who have lost considerable quantity of their crop. The estimated loss to arecanut growers in Dakshina Kannada had been put at Rs. 220 crore, he said.

Mr. Kumaraswamy, who toured the coastal and Shimoga districts, said that arecanut plantations, spread across 2.27 lakh hectares in these districts, have been affected by fruit rot disease (Kole Roga) as continuous rain prevented farmers from spraying copper sulphate fluid on arecanut bunches.

The government had released only Rs. 8 crore compensation for crop loss in the coastal areas. Review meetings had not been held and Ministers concerned were yet to visit rain-affected districts, he said.

Stating that coconut plantations in various southern districts had suffered damage, he said that lakhs of coconut palms have withered on account of drought in 80 taluks and this has been taken note of by the Gorak Singh Committee.

MPs meet Pawar

Meanwhile, MPs from the State, D.K. Suresh (Bangalore Rural), Jayaprakash Hegde (Udupi-Chikmagalur) and R. Dhruvanarayan (Chamarajanagar), called on Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar in New Delhi on Friday and urged him to announce a financial package for arecanut growers in the State.

They also demanded enhancing assistance under the National Horticulture Mission and Calamity Relief Fund.

Mr. Pawar is said to have assured the delegation of sending a team to study the issue.

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