Thanjavur: Removal of fallen trees due to ‘Gaja’ cyclone is going on a war footing in Thanjavur district now. Immediate challenge faced by coconut farmers after the cyclone was how to remove several lakh trees that were uprooted by the cyclone.
Supply of power saws by agriculture engineering department and roping in wood traders to remove the trees helped in removal of trees at many places. In Madukkur block, where the devastation was heavy, besides wood traders cutting and taking the trees, farmers themselves were involved in cutting and removal of trees using power-saws.
According to official figures, coconut on nearly 25,000 hectares out of 38,000 hectares cultivated in the district, have fallen. In numbers, nearly 40 lakh trees have been uprooted. In Madukkur block, one of the worst affected areas, nine lakh coconut trees have been either uprooted or crown cut off and thrown away by the wind.
Agriculture department officials in Madukkur block said that 80 per cent of the trees in the block have been uprooted. Crown of 15 per cent trees have been cut off and thrown away in the wind. Remaining trees are unproductive.
There are 44 revenue villages in the block and power saws at the rate of two per revenue village have been supplied.
Farmers are cutting the trees using power saws and selling them to traders, who were also roped in by Government to help farmers. Lorry loads of cut trees were moved out of the district now, said officials.
Mr. A. Annadurai, Thanjavur district collector, said that nearly 633 power saws have been supplied to farmers for cutting trees. Meanwhile Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd (TNPL) has opened temporary procurement centres in 19 places in Cauvery delta districts to procure eucalyptus and casuarinas trees that were uprooted in Gaja cyclone.
For eucalyptus and casuarinas trees brought by farmers after removing the bark, Rs 5,000 and Rs 5,575 per tonne respectively is paid by TNPL. If farmers are not able to bring the trees to the procurement centres, company will harvest it and transport it at its cost and pay the farmer deducting the expenses for cutting and removing bark. Forest department is procuring teak trees at R 2,000 per tonne, officials said.
Gagandeep Singh Bedi , Principal secretary to government, agriculture department and agriculture production commissioner, who conducted a meeting of wood traders, agriculture, agriculture engineering, horticulture and forest
department officials and farmers recently at Thanajvur said that wood traders have evinced interest in taking mango, jack and cashew trees.
“They have been asked to procure coconut trees also for producing household articles, art works and for brick kiln. Brick kiln owners and cement companies have agreed to procure coconut trees,” Mr. Bedi said, adding, traders have been asked to pay maximum amount and take the trees....