Andhra Pradesh

Ryots hit as gas leak damages crop, halts cultivation

Farmers demand compensation, early clearance to resume farm work

Ever since styrene monomer vapour leaked out of a storage tank at LG Polymers here in the early hours of May 7, the farmers from the villages around the chemical plant are in a state of flux.

The authorities concerned, as part of precautionary measures, told them not to eat the produce or sell it and even advised them not to take up any agricultural activity till a go-ahead is given.

At RR Venkatapuram where the LG Polymers plant is located and in a number of villages that were affected by the vapour leak such as Venkatapuram, Kamparapalem, Kothapalem and Lakshmipuram, agriculture is the mainstay.

The authorities concerned, including the survey teams from NGT and NEERI, advised the residents of the villages not to drink groundwater and destroy the crop.

Twelve persons died and over 350 were hospitalised in the incident.

Main income source

The farmers in the villages grow their crop between the Meghadrigedda reservoir and the railway track. “We cultivate paddy, sugarcane, casuarina, brinjal, tomato, various leafy vegetables, fresh gherkins, ladies’ fingers, plantains and millets,” says Ganesh, a farmer from Venkatapuram.

About 800 to 1,000 acres of land is under cultivation, which serves as the main source of income for at least 400 families. About 20% of the crop, especially leafy vegetables, comes to the city from these villages, says a senior official from the Agriculture Department.

Rapparthi Appanna, another farmer, laments that it was harvest time and they had lost their crop. “Monsoon is approaching but we have been advised not to take up farming till the soil test report gives us a green signal. The government has given us a compensation of ₹10,000, but nothing for the crop loss,” he says.

Venkatapuram is the oldest village in this block and was recognised as a revenue village in 1936. The LG Polymers plant, then Hindustan Polymers, had come up in 1961. “Subsequently, with the construction of the Megadrigedda reservoir and laying of railway lines, much of our land was taken away and now we use the patches between the reservoir and the railway track,” explains S. Sudhakar, another farmer.

Multiple crops

Most of the farmers hold small parcels of land varying from 50 cents to 1.5 acres. Farming is done throughout the year, as they get water supply from the perennial Adivaramgedda. According to a farmer Nagamani, there is no shortage of water all through the year, and after harvesting one crop they sow another. “We consume some of it and sell the remaining at the Ryhtu Bazaars. This is our only source of income and now we are facing an uncertainty,” she bemoans.

Farmers demand compensation for the damaged crop and an early clearance to start farming operations.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 8:54:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ryots-hit-as-gas-leak-damages-crop-halts-cultivation/article31674784.ece

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