Farmers' appeal to committee headed by Finance Minister O.Panneerselvam

While almost the entire farming community in this district expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for her efforts to get the rightful share of Cauvery water to the State from Karnataka, they also appealed to her to grant adequate compensation to those who have suffered huge loss due to failure of the monsoon and also shortage of Cauvery water.

In their submission to the high-level committee headed by Finance Minister O.Panneerselvam, which visited the district on Saturday, they pointed out that the State government had all along been considering only Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur as delta districts though Tiruchi was also dependent on the Cauvery for irrigating at least 2 lakh acres, especially annual crops like banana and sugarcane, apart from paddy.

Hence, whatever benefits announced for the delta districts should be made applicable to Tiruchi district also, they demanded.

G. Kanagasabhai, State president of the Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, sought a compensation of at least Rs.25,000 per acre while family of agricultural labourers should be granted a relief of Rs.10,000. He wanted the State government to accord better attention to protecting water bodies and avoid their commercial use.

M.P.Gandhipithan, secretary of the CDFA, pointed out that it was his association which moved the Supreme Court demanding justice in the Cauvery waters issue. He commended the Chief Minister for her initiative to get the Final Award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gazetted.

Puliyur A. Nagarajan, vice president of the Agriculturists’ Wing of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, and P. Ayyakkannu, president of the State Bharathiya Kisan Sangh, pleaded for release of more water from Mettur Dam to save the standing crops in the 17-channel area. At present 1,500 cusecs is released from the dam and it should be stepped up to 2,500 cusecs, they said. They also demanded that all the loans of the farmers, obtained both from the co-operative sector and the nationalised banks, be written off to avert further suicides among the farming community.

N. Ganesan, district secretary of the Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam, lamented that the groundwater table had so much slumped in certain areas of the district that borewells had to be sunk to a depth of 1,000 ft. He pleaded that the 12-hour three-phase power supply should be maintained all over Musiri taluk. He also wanted the government to initiate steps to conserve rain water.

C. Masilamani, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham, submitted that while crops like paddy, sugarcane, banana, cholam, cotton and tapioca raised in thousands of acres have been affected, a substantial area could not even be cultivated.

Apart from giving at least Rs.10,000 each to the family of agricultural workers, he pleaded for ensuring the wage of Rs.132 per day for those workers given employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

M. P. Chinnadurai, district president, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangham, wanted the entire State declared drought-hit and sought compensation for all the farmers, including those who have raised rainfed crops.