80 per cent crops damaged in Tirunelveli: Minister

Even as the state was struggling to come to terms with the massive withering of crops in several thousands of acres of land in the delta region, Minister for Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare, Rajalakshmi has said that 80 per cent of the sowed crops have suffered damage in Tirunelveli district.
80 per cent crops damaged in Tirunelveli: Minister
Minister Rajalakshmi inspecting crops in Tirunelveli

Madurai

The Minister after chairing a review meeting in Tirunelveli went on a field inspection along with Collector M Karunakaran and other top officials of the district to gauge the extent of damage the crops have suffered. During her visit to the farms, she also had a detailed interaction with the farmers and listened to their grievances patiently. 
After the inspection, Rajalakshmi issued a series of instructions to the officials and ordered them to record the drought in all the regions in the district and loss suffered by farmers to get maximum insurance amount. Out of 46,000 acres of paddy cultivation in the district more than 80 percentage of the crops had either dried. 
The officials were also asked to complete the drought estimate within two days and send a detailed report to the government as early as possible. She insisted that only based on the reports from districts, which would be put together and sent to the Centre, the state government could seek compensation for farmers. Unless the farmers get compensation in time, they could not could continue farming in the next season. Hence, officials should be careful and swift in assessing the drought situation and submitting a report on the ground situation in the district, the Minister said. 
However, farmers termed the inspection as a mere eyewash. They claimed that the total inspection was completed in three hours and the process was not carried out properly. Going by the way the inspection was carried out on Friday, locals felt that most farmers would not get compensation amount like in 2013 when most of the affected persons did not receive a single paisa as compensation.
Three farmers die in southern districts
Three farmers died in southern districts on Friday. Two were from Madurai district and one was from Thoothukudi district.  At Padhinettankudi near Melur in Madurai, Ramu (47), a farmer, had died of heart attack. He had cultivated paddy and banana in his field. On Thursday he had gone to his field and after seeing the dried crops and lack of water to irrigate them he had returned to his house and had slept. On Friday morning he did not wake up and when he was rushed to the hospital he was declared dead due to heart attack. Similarly, in Sillampatti village near Usilampatti Pandi (63), a farmer who had cultivated rain fed crops in 1.2 acres of his land, had committed suicide. Crops had failed and his loans were mounting. Hence Pandi had committed suicide by consuming pesticide. 
At Vagaithavur near Kovilpatti, Velu (61), a farmer who had cultivated green gram, black gram and chili in his land, had died of heart attack. He too had gone to his field on Thursday and on returning had slept but did not wake up on Friday. When he was rushed to the hospital doctors declared him dead due to heart attack.
Study reveals 74,263 hectares hit in Nagapattinam district
Out of the total Samba and Thaladi cultivated in an extent of 1,29,891 hectares in the district, 74,263 hectares of farms were badly affected and 2,319 hectares of land were moderately affected, said the drought assessment team.  
State Revenue Secretary B Chandramohan and Collector S Palanisamy, state Handlooms and Textiles Minister O S Manian studied the ground reality in 20 places across the district on Friday. Besides demanding Rs 30,000 as compensation for each affected acre, the farmers have appealed to the team that the agricultural workers should be granted at least Rs 15,000 each as compensation and Rs 5,000 as monthly assistance for the next six months. Answering to the demands on disbursing last year’s crop insurance claim, Manian charged that the delay is purely because of the Union Government’s apathy. “The Centre is yet to shell out Rs 190 crore of premium to the insurance firm as their contribution. Our government is now considering the possibility of paying Centre’s insurance premium share to the insurance firm to solve this issue,” Manian assured.

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