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Cyclone ruins paddy crops in Godavari districts of AP

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Kakinada, Nov. 24:  Cyclone Helen has caused widespread damage to paddy crops in the East and West Godavari districts.

Coconut plantations in the Konaseema area of East Godavari were also severely hit, besides causing damage to property and roads.

The two Godavari districts and the Krishna district were the worst-hit when the cyclone crossed the coast near Machilipatnam in Krishna district last week. The earlier cyclone, Phailin, and the subsequent rains for a week or so earlier had also damaged the paddy crop and Helen compounded the woes of farmers.

According to preliminary estimates, paddy crop in roughly 4-5 lakh acres may have been affected by the cyclone in the two Godavari districts, known for paddy production. Paddy crop was affected not only in the Godavari delta in the two districts, but the uplands as well. The damage in the delta was more. The kharif crop was at the harvesting stage when the cyclone arrived at the most inopportune moment.

In East Godavari distrcit, Konaseema area in the Godavari delta was the worst-hit. Coconut crop was also badly damaged and the locals say that it was the worst cyclone after the 1996 cyclone which caused very heavy damage to coconut crop. It is estimated that 30,000-40000 coconut palms may have been felled by the cyclone in the area. However, the final estimate is yet to be made. It is a body blow to the area, mainly dependent on paddy and coconut.

The authorities have promised speedy enumeration of the crop loss and relief measures, but the farmers are sceptical. The promised assistance for the Neelam cyclone – in the form of input subsidy of Rs 6,000 per hectare – has not yet reached many farmers in the two districts in spite of the assurances given by the Chief Minister during his recent visit to the districts after the Phailin cyclone.

“Cyclones are quite regular and frequent in the coastal areas, but the aid is always irregular and delayed,” said Bh. Ramachandra Murthy, a farmer in Thondangi mandal of East Godavari district.

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