Palmyra trees wither at the backdrop of drought in Thoothukudi

Palmyra trees are usually adaptive to all kinds of landscapes like coastal areas, river plains, rough terrains, hilly regions, and even red sand deserts of Thoothukudi.

Published: 26th August 2023 07:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2023 07:00 AM   |  A+A-

Palmyra trees

For representational purposes

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Several hundreds of palmyra trees have been withering due to the prevalent drought across the Thoothukudi district. Palmyra trees in Sathankulam, Srivaikuntam, Tiruchendur, Udangudi, Eral, Thoothukudi, Ottapidaram Tharuvaikulam, and Vilathikulam, have dried up and withered away over the past few weeks.

Palmyra trees are usually adaptive to all kinds of landscapes like coastal areas, river plains, rough terrains, hilly regions, and even red sand deserts of Thoothukudi. However, the condition of the Palmyra trees has shocked environmentalists, activists, and those relying on Palmyra trees for a living. Data reveals that Palmyra groves in the district are spread across some 2,889 hectares.

District Environment Protection Forum president V Gunaselan said the incidents of palmyra trees withering indicate the depletion of groundwater levels. "Palmyra trees, whether a year old or 50 years old are withering away due to the extreme changes in the climate," he said.

The director of the Environment Concerns department of Thoothukudi-Nazareth CSI diocese Father John Samuel attributed the withering of Palmyra trees to climatic change among other factors. The district administration should consider banning the extraction of groundwater by industries, he insisted.

When Palmyra trees were largely cut down by realtors and brick kiln operators, the state government's timely interventions had put a stopper to it, he lauded. "Due to the extreme dryness, absence of monsoon rains, and a spike in Mercury levels, several acres of Palmyra trees were destroyed in a wildfire. The dried leaves of untapped palmyra trees, largely found on government poramboke lands, caught fire due to extreme heat and fuelled it.

District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA) can deploy MGNREGS workers to mend the untapped palmyras in the village panchayats so that fire accidents can be avoided. The MGNREGS workforce could also be employed to tap pathaneer so that the production of palm jaggery by the Palmyra society can be increased, says palm tree activists.

Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam members, during the 9th district conference held at Vilathikulam, have urged the state to declare Thoothukudi as drought-hit. Gunaselan noted that, in a recent G.O issued by the disaster management department, the Alwarthirunagari block in Thoothukudi was declared moderately drought hit."However, given the prevalent issues like water scarcity, absence of rain, agriculture failure, and withering of palmyra trees, the entire district must be declared drought-hit," he adds.

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