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Tuesday, Jun 11, 2002

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Coconut farms hit along Pollachi belt

G. Gurumurthy


WITH its skyline once dotted with swaying coconut trees, the 35-km-long Coimbatore-Pollachi road-stretch today presents a desolate picture of dying coconut gardens as lack of rain and depletion of groundwater have taken a heavy toll on farmers dependent on these plantations in the district.

"Over 1.5 lakh coconut trees of 25-30-year-old crop were allowed to die in recent months in Kinathukadavu/Pollachi blocks as farmers could not support them for want of water in the vicinity," said Mr Rangaswamy, a farmer from Vazhukuparai village in the Pollachi block.

According to him, the precarious ground water condition in the northern fringes of Pollachi block had hit the farmers in the last two years, which was aggravated by the failed monsoon last year. Coconut groves with about one-lakh trees in at least 10 villages in Pollachi belt are faced with imminent destruction for want of water. The water scarcity has become so acute that even drip-irrigation is not possible in the area, the farmers say.

Mr Balasubramaniam, leader of the State Farmers Party (Dr Sivasamy group) who too hails from Vazhukuparai village says that the acute dry conditions have crippled farm activity in 44 villages in the Kinathukadavu-Pollachi belt and among the worst affected are Chettipalayam, Elure, Pachchapalayam, Mayileripalayam, Maripalayam, Chakkanur and Vazhukuparai. The farmers in these villages used to raise tomato and cotton in large areas, but these crops were affected during last season due to water scarcity.

Mr Balasubramaniam says that large-scale encroachment in key channels that used to fill Kurichi Kulam, one of the major irrigation tanks in the periphery of Coimbatore and the Vellalur canals, which used to recharge ground water for the irrigation wells in the vicinity, is responsible for the acute groundwater depletion.

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