Farmers of Tiruchi district have demanded stringent action against Karnataka which has refused to abide by the direction of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to release 9,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water to Tamil Nadu for samba cultivation.

A number of farmers led by P. Viswanathan, State president, Tamilaga Eri Matrum Aatrupasana Vivasayigal Sangham, submitted a memorandum to Collector Jayashree Muralidharan at the farmers’ grievances day in this regard here on Friday.

The memorandum alleged that Karnataka had been behaving in a “conscience-less” fashion because it is prepared to release water to Mettur Dam only when its reservoirs reach surplus.

As Karnataka failed to respond positively to the direction of the Prime Minister, who is the chairman of the CRA, farmers demanded that action should be initiated against the State under Article 356 of the Constitution. They also condemned the Centre, which had failed to get water for Tamil Nadu and thus protect the interests of farmers of the State.

Rajachidambaram, State general secretary, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangham, and P. Ayyakkannu, State general secretary, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam, deplored the Union Finance Minister for his reported statement on the consumption of urea by farmers and the need for hiking its price.

They lamented that prices of fertilizers had already skyrocketed thanks to the failure of the Central government to hold their price in check. DAP which was quoted around Rs.486 for a bag of 50 kilograms before April 1, 2010, was now sold at around Rs.1,200. Similarly, the price of potash had shot up from about Rs.231 per bag to Rs.840. The price of complex fertilizers had also trebled.

“If Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were to have his way, the price of urea would shoot up from Rs.251 per bag to Rs.1200. Is it possible for anyone to take up agriculture in such a scenario,” wondered Mr. Rajachidambaram. He pleaded for reversing the price of fertilizers to the pre-April 2010 level. He also urged the government not to allow fertilizer companies to fix prices as they pleased.

He criticised the view of Mr. Chidambaram that agriculturists were using a lot of urea. “We do not use more than what is absolutely required. Besides, it is the duty of the government to find out how items like potash are being used by the fireworks industry. There is no sense in shifting the burden of subsidy to farmers for such materials.”

Farmers also made a pitch for utilising the services of those registered with District Rural Development Agency under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) for all farming operations during the farming season. The Government Order issued in connection with deploying MNREGS workers in farming operations is not comprehensive, they said.

While the order talks of plantation works like pitting, pitting and filling, transportation of seedlings by head load, distribution of seedlings, planting, watering and weeding and soil working, it has left out quite a few other important agricultural activities including picking, they added.

To the plea of a farmer for releasing water in the Uyyakkondan channel, which has an ayacut of more than 20,000 acres, the Collector said it would be positively done on Monday (October 1).

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation also came in for scathing criticism for the innumerable power disruptions and extraordinarily poor supply of power to farmers. “While farmers are given only three hours of power supply, industries are treated far better,” they alleged.

Electricity officials who were present admitted that 40 per cent power cut prevailed in the district including for industries.