Farmers have condemned the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) for erratic power supply in the district in the recent days. They sought the TNEB Chief Engineer to convene a special electricity consumers' grievance redressal meeting on Monday to sort out the issue.
Coming out of the monthly farmers' grievance redressal meeting here on Friday, they complained that as against the norms of 10 hours of three-phase power supply at night and six hours of supply in the day time, the supply was not being maintained for even two hours at a stretch. “Yesterday (Thursday), the supply was for less than an hour and that too with many disruptions,” said president of Madurai district farmers' association M. Pandian.
He said that 48,856 electric motor pumps were being used for irrigation during summer. “All the tanks are dry. There is no water even in the Periyar and Vaigai dams. Farmers are now dependent on lift irrigation — using motor pumps — to produce vegetables and fruits in the next four months.
“We do not even know the timings of uninterrupted power supply. Besides not being able to carry out farming activities, we have the additional burden of paying wages for workers who are kept idle since water cannot be pumped,” he said.
An advocate, P. Seetharaman, said that the increasing price of diesel had made using oil motors unviable.
When a TNEB official said that four hours of three-phase power supply had been ensured in the district, many farmers were on their toes challenging him. On demands from farmers, the EB official said that a formal announcement on the date of consumer grievance redressal meeting would be made soon.
Complaints of extracting “additional” handling charges from farmers for weighing and loading of paddy bags at the direct procurement centres also cropped up at the meeting. The District Collector (in-charge), Dinesh Ponraj Oliver, instructed officials to look into the issue.
K. Devarajan of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam complained that subsidy meant for farmers under drip irrigation scheme was “swindled” by suppliers. C. Muthupandi, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Milk Producers' Association, complained that certain activities in managing bulk milk coolers led to milk producers diverting the milk from cooperative societies to private players.