Salem: Over 10 lakh coconut trees have wilted due to persistent drought in Salem district.
“Almost 80 per cent of the coconut trees have become dead already due to lack of water following a poor monsoon. The remaining trees will also end up facing the same fate, if it fails to rain in a week’s time,” said S Jayaraman, presidents of Salem district ‘Ulavar Mandra Kuttamaippu’.
Coconut trees are cultivated in over 12,000 acres in areas such as Masinaickenpatty, Ayodyapattanam, Chinnakavundapuram, Periakavundapuram, Vellalakundam and Valapady in the district. An acre of coconut trees yields revenue of up to Rs 80,000 in a normal year, but things have changed for worse following the drought.
Even the green pastures, that were once a sight to behold on the Salem-Chennai national highways, have withered due to lack of water. The farmers said that they are left without water as the groundwater has dipped beyond 1,000 feet due to over exploitation by digging deep bore-wells. They also attributed the death of coconut trees to drying up of ponds due to rampant illegal encroachments on it pathway.
P Tamilarasan, a farmer from Ayodyapattinam said that he buys water for `1,500 to pour for coconut trees in his six acres of land to help them survive the drought. As rains continue to evade the district, hundreds of farmers are worried that their livelihood is at stake due to the drying crops.
A large number of heads of cattle have also been dying due to lack of water and fodder in villages abutting Tamil Nadu- Karnataka border. People breed goats and cows in large numbers in Govindapadi, Chettipatty, Emanur, Gobinatham, Jamburuttupatty and Alambadi, located on the banks of river Cauvery.
In these villages, each family maintains not less than 10 cows and it may go up to 60 cows. The cattle will be shepherded into the jungles in the morning and they return after grazing in the evening.
But due to drought, the animals, sans both water and fodder, have begun to collapse and die in large numbers. Carcasses of several dead animals can be found on the way to forest areas in the district....