Nilam effect: heavy crop loss in coastal Andhra districts
The incessant rains for the past five days have wreaked havoc in ten coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. According to the latest reports, 30 people lost their lives; at least 1,280 houses suffered damage; and 68,000 people are in relief camps. Rivers are in spate, low-lying areas are flooded and hundreds of villages still remain marooned. The torrential rains began on November 2, two days after cyclone Nilam hit the Indian coast.
A preliminary loss assessment report by the revenue authorities and the state disaster management department estimates crops in at least 525,000 hectares have been damaged, about 1,300 minor irrigation tanks have breached and about 7,000 km of roads have been damaged. The worst-affected are the northern coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, and the rice bowl districts of East and West Godavari. Khammam district has also suffered huge losses.
“Though heavy rains were expected in the southern districts of Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Chittoor along with the cyclone, continuous heavy rains were unexpected, especially in the northern coastal districts,” says Raghuveera Reddy, state revenue minister.
Farmers in the coastal districts are helpless. They were in crisis in the beginning of the kharif season, starting June, due to scanty rains. The state had witnessed deficit rainfall in June with only 83.5 mm of rains being recorded against a normal rainfall of 108.4 mm for the month, a deficit of 23 per cent. As many as 13 out of 23 districts in the state had recorded a deficit in rainfall, ranging from 3 to 31 percent in June. Scanty rainfall had affected cultivation badly in rainfed areas and lack of water in major reservoirs had left the farmers in a crisis in the Krishna and Godavari deltas.
Impending food crisis
Due to scanty rainfall, there was a drastic fall in area under paddy cultivation. The crop was grown in only 100,00 ha as against the normal of 264,800 ha. Acute power shortage also affected farming. Now at the end of the season, the farmers have been hit by downpours and floods. In West Godavari district alone, 44,000 hectares of crops, mainly paddy fields, have been destroyed. The huge crop loss in kharif will, in turn, affect the second crop. The state might face a food grain crisis this year.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas, has promised that the state would give compensation to farmers, including tenant farmers. He has also promised that he would be talking to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to purchase the discoloured paddy and the c to buy damaged cotton to help farmers. He has also promised relief to farmers cultivating other crops as well.
The chief minister has asked district administrations to prepare loss assessment reports as early as possible to enable the state government to submit final loss report to the Centre.