Govt working on contingency plan to tackle damages to cultivable land
Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government is working on a contingency plan for farmers affected by the cyclone Bulbul after the Agriculture department submitted a preliminary report on the damage caused to agricultural land, to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday.
9.15 lakh hectares of agricultural land spread over six districts has borne the brunt of the severe cyclonic storm and major agricultural products like paddy (Aman), potato, vegetables, pulses, mustard, flower and betel leaves have been damaged. The storm that was accompanied by heavy rainfall for two days has added to the extent of damage.
"Our Chief Minister is herself monitoring the situation. She visited parts of South 24-Parganas today (Monday) and took stock of the situation. Our department will work according to her instructions," said Ashis Banerjee, state Agriculture minister.
According to the report submitted to the Chief Minister, the 9.15 lakh hectares of agricultural land that has been damaged spans across South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East Midnapore and West Midnapore.
"The maximum damage has been caused to land where paddy has been cultivated. 8.35 lakh hectares of paddy growing fields have been affected. South 24-Parganas and East Midnapore are the two districts that have suffered major damage to paddy cultivation," a senior official of the Agriculture department said on condition of anonymity.
Bengal is the highest producer of paddy and now it is harvesting time.
"Water has accumulated on major parts of agricultural land and will take some more days to drain out. Then the exact damage to the crops can be assessed. But we cannot deny that paddy cultivation has suffered reasonably," the official added.
Cash crops like flowers and betel leaves have also suffered damage. It is estimated that 1,900 hectares of
flower producing land and 5,500
hectares of betel leaf producing land have been damaged. 4,000 hectares
of this land is located in East Midnapore.
50,000 hectares of vegetable growing land spread mainly over North 24-Parganas and Hooghly, 11,000 hectares of mustard growing field, 600 hectares of land growing pulses and 400 hectares of land for potato cultivation have been affected. In addition to this, another 10,000 hectares of land have been affected as well.
A source in the department pointed out that Bengal, which is second in potato production in the country, has begun sowing the Jaldi potato that arrives in markets before the potatoes from Punjab and UP reach the market.
But with water accumulating in the fields, the sowing is likely to be delayed and farmers are apprehending that UP and Punjab potatoes will flood the Bengal market.
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