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India - A month on, crops damaged by Ockhi yet to be assessed

More than a month after cyclone Ockhiuprooted lakhs of trees and also destroyed plantations across the district, farmers in some of the affected areas say that officials from the revenue, horticulture and agriculture departments are yet to conduct a survey of losses suffered by them.
Statistics from the horticulture and agriculture departments show that crops and trees cultivated on 6,006 hectares (14,841 acres) was destroyed by the cyclone on November 29 and 30, affecting 31,247 farmers. Most of them were small and medium farmers who have small land holdings that are just a few cents.

Horticulture crops were the worst hit as 5,468 hectares belonging to 26,442 farmers was affected. Worst hit among them were rubber and banana cultivators. A senior agriculture department official said that around 400 rubber trees are grown in a hectare while 2,500 banana trees are grown in a hectare.

Going by the calculations the loss is staggering as more than 10 lakh rubber trees, 60 lakh plantains and more than 20,000 coconut trees of different ages have been destroyed by the cyclone. But farmers fear that it would be more as not all the damaged areas have been assessed by the government machinery.

This allegation was even put forward to the Central team and senior IAS officers from the state government who visited a few affected pockets to assess the damage on December 28. “A few days ago a VAO (Village Administrative Officer) tried to take stock of the rubber trees uprooted in the 30 acres in our locality,” said I Jawahar Sadiq Jamshi of Pattanikulam near Marundhukottai.

Jawahar had 1,500 eleven-year-old rubber trees and lost 1,200 in the cyclone. “We are unable to enter the land as there is no space for us to step in. We don’t know how the officer could assess the damage as she too could not step in. We have given account of the trees damaged in our land to the officers but are keeping our fingers crossed on what we would get,” he said.

A Paulson of Kottavilai near Melpuram is wondering if he should clear the more than 1,500 plantains that have fallen in his piece of land or wait for government officials to visit his land. “I am afraid that I might not get the meager compensation if I cleared the broken trees,” he said and felt that it is high time crop damages we

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