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No trace of pans in salt production hub of Thoothukudi

Crops, livestock and livelihood washed away in the deluge, rue residents; govt help sought

No trace of pans in salt production hub of Thoothukudi

A submerged salt pan at Vepalodai in Thoothukudi

MADURAI: A week after the deluge, many parts of Thoothukudi are returning to normalcy. But, still many of those affected recall their harrowing experiences in the wake of the heavy downpour on December 17. Authorities are working decisively to complete restoration of the damaged areas as early as possible.

There seems to be no trace of saltpans in Thoothukudi, renowned for salt production. Production was badly-hit by the devastating flood as most pans are washed away, ARAS Dhanabalan, former secretary, Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association, said on Sunday.

Heavy rains pounded Thoothukudi in the overnight of December 17. Around six lakh tonnes of manufactured salt got dissolved in the floodwaters that submerged several saltpans from Arumuganeri to Vaippar. Breaches in Korampallam reservoir in Thoothukudi, a major tank in Eppodhum Vendran and a tank near Ottapidaram caused flooding in saltpans. Normally, it incurs an expenditure of Rs 20,000 to 25,000 on annual maintenance of an acre of saltpan. But, now it seems that the expenditure could nearly double to reform the severely damaged pans, he told DT Next.

KP Perumal, state treasurer, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, said most of the 46,000 acres relying on Tamirabarani irrigation system are damaged following the downpour that caused flash flooding. Mostly, banana and paddy fields in Srivaikuntam and its surrounding villages submerged under water. Heavy rains breached and drained some of the tanks in Velur, Pudukudi and Kadambakulam.

Almost 1,000 acres of rain-fed crop like black gram, green gram and kambu in Soorankudi and some portions of chilly farm in Ariyanayagipuram of Vilathikulam taluk were also affected, he said seeking adequate crop insurance benefits.

In the aftermath of last week’s flood, Joe Austin, who owns an ornamental fish farm at Eral, left with deep losses said, the unprecedented deluge destroyed his fish farm. “We had a maximum precipitation of 930 mm overnight, never in the history of this part of town. We are less than a kilometer from the perennial river Tamirabarani. There’s a massive breach close to the farm and in no time, the flood water level rose up to six meters high over the farm,” he said recalling the plight.

Inland fishing hit

Much to their agony, the unexpected flood caused a loss of valuable brood stocks, imported from Germany and from various parts globally, worth huge chunks of money. There’s almost a million fingerlings last week, not even one made it through after this mayhem, he said. “It’s heart-wrenching for me to lose the productive hatchery and all its life support systems. However, there’s no structural damage to massive concrete tanks,” the fish farmer lamented.

In Punnaikayal, a coastal hamlet, many residents burst into rage as they had no power supply for over a week and urged the authorities to restore supply soon. According to the Tangedco sources, an electric pole tower fell down in backwaters close to sea and the personnel were working on it to restore supply soon.

J Praveen Paul Joseph
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