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Farmers in Vellore, Tiruvannamalai reeling after Nivar

After the storm: A banana plantation damaged due to the cyclone in Vellore on Friday.   | Photo Credit: C. Venkatachalapathy

The profit earned by selling Kenthai flowers, grown on two acres of agricultural land in Sholavaram in Vellore district, was the only source of income for 37-year-old Chitra to feed her family and educate her daughter. However, Cyclone Nivar destroyed all her flowers and left her hapless.

“My husband is no more and my daughter is in college. If I sow seeds for close to ₹5,000, I will get flowers worth ₹15,000. I sell them to vendors at the Vellore market and I earn a profit of ₹7,500. But the cyclone destroyed all the flowers,” she said.

Many farmers like her in Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts were affected by Cyclone Nivar. According to initial estimates made by the Vellore district administration, close to 200 acres of land have been affected. In Tiruvannamalai district, over 2,273 hectares of land have been damaged.

J. Rajkumar, who owns three acres of land in Kalpattu village in Tiruvannamalai’s Polur taluk, said he sustained heavy financial loss due to crop damage. “I had 550 plantain saplings and corn. The yield would have fetched me a profit of ₹2.5 lakh. But this time, I will face a loss,” he said.

An estimate of the agricultural loss is being carried out in Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts. “It will be sent to the government and the farmers will be compensated,” said an official from Vellore.

However, farmers are unhappy with the compensation provided by the government. “We spend close to ₹100 in planting the saplings and maintaining it, and it fetches us ₹250 per bunch. But the government provides ₹5 as compensation per banana crop. This has to be increased. We have been fighting for this for a long time now,” said S. Udayakumar, Vellore district secretary, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam.

Better coordination

Meanwhile, better coordination between various government departments helped prevent too much damage in the district. “We had already geared up to handle the cyclone.We identified the vulnerable areas and our first responders were alert, and relief centres were identified and prepared. We deployed additional teams when we came to know that the cyclone would pass through Vellore,” said an official from the Vellore district administration.

The officials also evacuated over 1,000 residents from the banks of the Ponnai and the Koundinya.

“There was not too much of an issue in Vellore city as the drains were desilted, the retaining wall was constructed and the bed level was deepened. Due to this, the carrying capacity increased. Hence, there was not much inundation in Vellore town, except in Kansalpet area and Thideer Nagar,” said an official.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 6:57:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/farmers-in-vellore-tiruvannamalai-reeling-after-nivar/article33197054.ece

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