Staff Reporter

Kuttanad farmers pour out a barrage of complaints

District officials brief team members

KC(M) MLAs submit memorandum

ALAPPUZHA: The Central team that visited the rain-ravaged paddy fields of Kuttanad in Alappuzha district on Friday felt that the region suffered ‘heavy damage.’

The team, comprising A.K. Yadav, Joint Secretary (Policy Planning), Home Affairs Ministry; A.K. Raina, Joint Director, Ministry of Finance; and K. Manoharan, Director, Directorate of Tobacco; encountered a barrage of complaints as it visited the paddy fields at Veliyanadu, Kidangara, Kainadi and the backwater paddy fields near the far-flung R-Block region.

An imposing spectacle of around 40 vehicles, including police jeeps, racing on the mud tracks alongside the paddy fields did not intimidate the farmers who had been waiting for the team since morning.

Not bothering whether the team members understood Malayalam or not, they poured forth their complaints over shortage of combine harvesters, the loss they would suffer if the crop was not reaped on time and how they were unable to protect the harvested crop from sprouting.

Sorry spectacle

The team visited the Thaiparambu and Parambadi padasekharams in Veliyanadu panchayat, where they witnessed the plight of two combine harvesters stuck in mud.

The crop loss in the 1,170-acre Thaiparambu padasekharam was around 75 per cent. At the 24,000-Kayal padasekharam, 1,153 farmers could harvest paddy in only around 100 acres out of the total cultivated area of 2,400 acres.

Mr. Yadav and his colleagues, who declined to speak to the media, were earlier briefed by District Collector V.K. Balakrishnan and Principal Agriculture Officer Jose Joseph at the Collectorate.

The total loss suffered by the district on various counts including agriculture, coir, fisheries, houses, human loss, etc., was pegged at Rs.111.32 crore.

The loss to paddy alone, clubbing the ‘virippu’ and ‘puncha’ crops, was a staggering Rs.67.59 crore. The loss suffered by vegetable farmers in Panavally, Kuthiathode and Cherthala amounted to Rs.2.5 crore.

The total area loss to the ‘puncha’ crop was 13,519 hectares out of the total cultivated area of 25,232 hectares, affecting 18,392 farmers.

The team had a short discussion at the Mankombu Rice Research Centre with officials.

Kottayam visit

Staff Reporter writes from Kottayam:

The Central team visited the paddy fields in Kottayam district destroyed by the summer rain, on Friday.

The team began its tour of Upper Kuttanad with the inspection of the 249-ha Poovam padasekharam in Payipad panchayat.

Taking stock of the situation there, the team then moved to the Vengal Irikkara and Chathankari padasekharams in Pathanamthitta district before coming back to the Thainganadi padasekharam in Nattakom panchayat.

The team also visited the Kaipuzha Kari padasekharam in Neendoor panchayat and the loss to vegetable crops in Kanjoor panchayat.

Leaves for Kochi

The team left for Kochi late in the evening after visiting the Ayankudy padasekharam in Kaduthuruthy.

The district authorities conveyed to the team the magnitude of the loss and said the district suffered a loss of Rs.25.38 crore from crop damage in 5,076 ha.

According to reports, 8,752 farmers in the district were affected. The Central team was accompanied by the district authorities, K. Suresh Kurup MP; C.F. Thomas, Joseph M. Puthussery, Thomas Chazhikkadan and V.N. Vasavan, all MLAs; district panchayat president Thomas Kunnappally; and others.

According to Mr. Puthussery, Kerala Congress(M) MLAs including its chairman C.F. Thomas and Thomas Chazhikkadan submitted a memorandum urging the Central authorities to take up the case of summer rain in Kerala as a special case.

According to him, many of the issues specially relevant for Kerala are missing in crop insurance schemes and pointed out that saline water intrusion and loss due to pest-inflicted damage are not covered under crop insurance now.

They also wanted enhancement in the compensation.