Demanding immediate gazetting of Cauvery Tribunal’s final order by the Centre, dismissal of Karnataka Government for denying Tamil Nadu its due legal share of water, and adequate compensation for withered crops, farmers staged a dharna for over an hour at the agricultural grievances day meeting here on Friday.

Write off crop loans

Farmers wanted the district administration to prevail upon the State government to take steps for writing off crop loans due to the failure of monsoons aggravated by power shortage. They wanted the State government to declare Tamil Nadu drought-hit and provide a compensation of Rs.35,000 an acre. Flanked by Deputy Commissioner of Police S. Selvakumar and other senior officials, Collector Jayashree Muralidharan gave a patient hearing to the agitated farmers.

The meeting was preceded by a massive demonstration by several farmers belonging to villages in Pullambadi panchayat union in front of the collectorate for nearly two hours. Farmers surging forward to get past the main gate of the collectorate had to be pushed back by the police. They demanded adequate compensation for damaged cotton and maize crops cultivated in several thousands of acres in rain-fed areas of Peruvalappur, Kallakudi and Pullambadi.

A group of bare-bodied farmers holding aloft withered plants was led by P.Ayyakannu, State vice president of Bharathiya Kisan Sangam. As they attempted to proceed in a procession to present petitions to the Collector, a posse of police personnel led by the Deputy Commissioner stopped them.

After a lengthy dissuasion, they wore their shirts and were permitted inside the premises.

The farmers presented petitions stating the cotton crop on 40,000 acres and maize on 25,000 acres under cultivation had withered due to lack of water and power shortage and that the stunted growth had diminished the yield drastically. Having invested up to Rs.25,000 per acre for cotton, and Rs.20,000 per acre for maize, they wanted crop loans to be written off in order to prevent suicides by farmers.

The petition said their livelihood was at stake as cotton was procured for only Rs.3,700 per quintal as against Rs.5,500 last year.

In its petition, the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam affiliated to All India Kisan Sabha led by district unit president C. Masilamani sought compensation of Rs.10,000 for each agricultural labourer who had lost work and livelihood due to failure of crops.

Apprehending a situation of hunger deaths in the near future, Mr. Masilamani wanted the State government to avert the eventuality by recommending 200 days of work per year under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Lauding Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for taking a decisive stand on the Cauvery issue to secure rights of Tamil Nadu, N. Veerasekaran, Coordinator, Ayyan Vaikal Pasanathar Sangam, sought effective implementation of the crop insurance scheme.