The floods and landslides in Kerala, especially in the plantation areas of Wayanad, Palakkad and Idukki, are expected to further impact the state's plantation industry. The industry lost around Rs 3,384 crore last year due to heavy floods. The floods and the landslides that occurred last week are expected to have a major impact on crops including tea, coffee and cardamom, said industry sources.
"The plantation sector has been affected badly. Wayanad is the worst-hit, while floods and landslides have been reported in Munnar and Peerumed in Idukki district and Nelliyampathy in Palakkad. We are yet to assess the extent of damage as we are unable to reach the affected areas," said Ajith Balakrishnan, secretary, Association of Planters of Kerala (APK).
The damage to standing crops and infrastructure is very severe in Wayanad. In Munnar, some parts of the region have been cut off after a temporary bridge, built after the last year's floods, was severely damaged.
The crops had already been impacted in the quarter ended June 30 and the impact of the current rainfall and landslide is yet to be assessed.
Some of the fields are waterlogged and if they continue to remain so, the losses will be higher, said sources from the sector.
The floods and landslides come exactly a year after heavy rainfall, floods and landslides occurred in August, 2018. According to a study carried out by the Centre for Development Studies, the losses in the plantation sector during the last floods were around Rs 3,382 crore.
"The plantation sector in Kerala is going through one of the worst financial crises. Many estates are on the verge of closure. Low prices, high cost of production and last year's floods have already taken a toll on the sector. It would be very difficult for us to come out of this unless there is some significant help from the central and the state governments," said Balakrishnan.
While no specific support was provided by the central or state governments for the plantation sector after the last year's floods, the state government had promised to waive off the plantation tax and agricultural income tax. This, however, is yet to happen.The worth of the state's plantation sector fell from around Rs 21,000 crore in 2012 to Rs 7,000 crore in the year 2017-18 owing to various challenges, including high wages and costs and lower prices.