Nilam effect: heavy crop loss in coastal Andhra districts

Wednesday 07 November 2012

Kharif season started with drought and ended with floods


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.

Move from news to views and get in-depth reports on issues that matter to you, every fortnight.
Subscribe now »

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • Congratulations to the author

    Congratulations to the author for getting information on such emergency issue of the state. Yes, the effect of Nilam is serious. Several people have visited, made comments, and the whole world knows about the ground situation.

    But no resposibility has been fixed for the prediction, assessment, resettlement, rehabilitation, and other supports to help people recover from the trauma and loss.

    In spite of all the technological developments, the prediction of rains, both time & magnitude, is quite off the mark. If this cannot be set right, then people have to suffer throughout their lives, which further limits their development and affects quality of life.

    Knowing the situation, the priority should be to get sustainable solutions which include:

    -Accuracy in prediction in advance

    -Training the people for preparedness for risk reduction

    -Warning the people, volunteers, & NGOs in advance

    -Effective resettlement mechanism & shelters

    -Immediate relief action: medical, water, food, sanitation, assistive devices and others matching to the needs of the affected people.

    In addition to all these, the major issue is the POOR DRAINAGE SYSTEM which affects the flow of the water when it more than the requirement. The main reasons are two:

    -Barriers or obstructions created

    -The encroachment of land which narrow downs the drainage or some time totally missing the drainage canal system.

    In spite of all the technologies, machinery, manpower, & money spent, PEOPLE are the sufferers. The measures taken are short-term and are not for rehabilitation. So, knowing the complexity & dynamics of the issue, the people should move forward to create better solutions at least in minimising the RISK.

    In the end, if the community/people can create better drainage system, then the risk can be reduced for both people and their properties.

    As the cyclones with varied intensities & damage to the people & their properties have become common with frequency, we all should move towards the creation of sustainable solutions for risk reduction, resettlement and rehabilitation.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • I think you haven't seen the

    I think you haven't seen the TV & Newspaper reports on the weather forecast. Cyclone moved towards Karnataka but along the northeast coast a depression was formed and this resulted in heavy rains. The Met department issued forecasts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, predicting heavy to very heavy rainfall. The prediction came true but the government machinery was busy with PCC president's daughter's wedding--officials, MLAs/MLCs/ministers thronged to the village (see the report on this by Times of India)--and after this they went to Delhi to attend 4th conclave. As a cover up, government started blaming the Met department, saying they don't have the technology to predict northeast monsoon. It is a foolish statement. Cyclonic activities are not only confined to monsoon season but also to pre-monsoon and post-monsoon -- northeast monsoon --. Monsoon season receives more depressions and less cyclones but northeast monsoon receives more cyclones/severe cyclones and less depressions. It is a known fact that these systems carry with them copious rainfall. Also, there is a committee for disaster management in government. Please don't blame the Met dept for the failure of government.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • Nice to see more info on the

    Nice to see more info on the priorities of the of the people. This is a common phenomena wherein common people get lowest priority in every thing. At this stage what the common people, including farmers, want is to get sustainable solutions to bear the dynamics of the climatic change impacts. Yes, the statement of Met department needs to be taken seriously to update the technologies, if necessary, for precise predictions. Otherwise, people get wrong signals about the efficacy of technology.

    As a solution what people want is to get holistic solution with multi-sectoral & multi-disciplinary approach through single window system (SWS).

    This suggests to move towards community-based rehabilitation (CBR) model which helps for sustainable solutions with effective utilization of time and resources, covering mitigation, preparedness, risk reduction,resettlement, rehabilitation, which finally improves the health & wealth of PEOPLE and the ENVIRONMENT.

    We all want the health & prosperity of FARMERS who are the backbone of our country's development.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
Scroll To Top