Hail ravages Manipur paddy

Published: Thursday 30 November 2006

hailstorm in most farming areas of Manipur in October took farmers, eagerly awaiting the harvest, by surprise. It left standing crops damaged. Imphal East, Bishenpur, Chandel, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubal and Ukhrul districts reported hailstorms between October 21 to 24, 2006.

Harvesting usually begins in October end. Andro, a township in Imphal East, lost 3,435 hectares (ha) out of 29,289 ha of cultivable land according to preliminary reports. Imphal East suffered 75 per cent standing crop damage. The villagers worry that there could be severe shortage of rice, the main foodgrain in Manipur, in the coming year. However, the agriculture department thinks it is too early for such conclusions since some areas, such as the hill districts, haven't given final reports.

Many villagers do not recall such phenomena in the recent past.But according to G Samu Kabui, deputy director planning, agriculture department, government of Manipur, hailstorm at this time is not unnatural, though a rare phenomena. N Deva Singh, head of the geography department of Manipur University concurs. When asked if the changes in temperature and ecology of the state have any relation with the hailstorm, he said, "The rampant 'balding' of the hills of Manipur for cultivation has led to absence of vegetation. Thus, the monsoon water cannot hold and we witness sporadic rainfall. The same is applicable to hailstorms." He called the hailstorms an effect of the retreating monsoon and felt future occurrences were possible.

Manipur chief minister, Okram Lbobi has announced that adequate compensation would be provided to the farmers.

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