The severe spell of drought has wiped out more than 2,500 coconut trees, one of the primary sources of income for many farmers, across the district.
Hundreds of coconut trees stand without their crowns and farmers in some areas have begun cutting them for firewood. The trees have withered even in the fertile villages in Kodumudi, Arachalur and Modakurichi blocks of the district following monsoon failure.
The little water released in the Lower Bhavani Project (LBP) canal recently did not prevent the trees from withering.
Even farmers like P. Anguraj, who has well-irrigation facilities, could not save the trees, thanks to the ongoing power crisis and the decreasing ground water level.
“In my grove, all the 30 plus trees stand withered due to acute water shortage. We could not draw enough water from well because of the power crisis. We tried to save the trees by buying water from private suppliers. Since it turned costlier, we had to stop watering the trees,” Mr. Anguraj told The Hindu .
“We get three-phase power supply for two to three hours a day. So we are forced to leave the coconut trees to wither without water,” said M. Dakshinamurthi, a farmer from Maruthurai, a village located on the Erode-Tirupur district border. Erode is one of the largest coconut producing regions in the State with more than 10,000 hectares covered under the crop.
The income from coconut trees forms a significant chunk of the revenue pie of many farmers.
The Bhavani River is the primary source of water for the groves.
Following the poor rainfall, the Public Works Department could not supply water through the LBP canal, which supplies water to more than 2.5 lakh acres in Erode and neighbouring districts.
Meanwhile, a report prepared by the district administration and submitted to the State government states that coconut trees in at least 15 hectares have withered in the drought.
A hectare normally has 170 trees.
“The government has announced a compensation of Rs. 10,000 a hectare,” an official here says.