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Tamil Nadu Floods: Agrarian Crisis Brewing In Cuddalore's Hinterland
Across the district, the trail of destruction is striking and the demand is just the same in both urban and rural areas - need for a robust mechanism comprising long-term measures to prevent flooding and put rain waters to optimal use
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An agrarian crisis is silently brewing in the hinterland of Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu after being caught in a swirl of repeated disasters over the years like Tsunami, cyclones and recent rains and floods which have battered the crops, cattle and infrastructure.
Across the district, the trail of destruction is striking and the demand is just the same in both urban and rural areas -- need for a robust mechanism comprising long-term measures to prevent flooding and put rain waters to optimal use.
Cuddalore bore the brunt of Tsunami that killed 640 people in December 2004 across the district's 57-kilometer coastline and was subsequently hit hard by multiple cyclones including Nilam, and Thane. The cup of woe is brimming with the recent round of rains and floods.
Farmers' woes have not receded with the fall in the level of flood waters. Ryots in Visur and Periyakattupalayam battle the double whammy of water-logging and huge mounds of river sand over the crops that are now reduced to just chaff.
Following the recent rains, huge tracts of paddy, cane and tapioca farm lands have now become striking red-sand farms going up to over five feet in several areas.
"We just do not know how we are going to remove such huge loads of sand from our lands even if water recedes completely," said C Balu and G Govindaraju, farmers of Visur and Periyakattupalayam respectively in the hinterland of Cuddalore.
For a small farmer like R Padmanban of Sundaraavandi with a land-holding of just an acre, the problem is also about handling debts and making the ends meet when there will almost be no income.
Farmers have also been burdened with the loss of cattle, a significant aspect of their everyday household utility and income.
"Be it paddy, cane or cashew growers, they are just hit hard as the deluge has damaged crops at the flowering stages ahead of the harvest," said President of the Cuddalore District Farmers Club Federation, P Ravindran.
In regions like Kalkunam and Kurinjipadi, he says there is "absolutely no chance for any crop harvest" as those areas were completely under water.
In Chidambram alone, the paddy yield could be less than 50 per cent of the usual though farmers had spent "fully (about Rs.21,000 per acre) expecting an optimum yield," Ravindran said.
Stating that Cuddalore was hit either by floods or drought alternately, he urged the government to go in for a proactive and multi-pronged strategy to guard their interests.
Building check-dams wherever possible, creating ground-water aquifers, proper maintenance of water-bodies more support for techniques like drip-irrigation, liberal norms for claiming crop-insurance were among the priorities Ravindran listed.