Various farmers’ associations on Monday urged the State and Central government to come out with an early solution for their problems.

Various farmers’ associations on Monday urged the State and Central government to come out with an early solution for their problems.

Banana farmers, led by Puliyur Nagarajan, vice president, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (Agricultural wing), who marched to the collectorate here with withered banana plants, alleged that the failure of the State government to supply water to the 17-channel area had resulted in withering of banana, sugarcane, and betel vines in two lakh acres. If water was not released from the Mettur Dam, these farmers would have to face a loss of about Rs.10,000 crore, he warned.

He pointed out that at present 5,000 acres of banana plantations in Vayalur, Kuzhumani, Mullikarumbur, Jeeyapuram, Pettavaithalai, Allur and Somarasampettai in Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s constituency of Srirangam was withering.

Hence, he wanted water released in the 17 channels, including the Uyyankondan channel. “Even when Mettur Dam had only 40 ft of water, water was released for irrigation in this region,” he pointed out.

In addition, he demanded a compensation of Rs.1lakh per acre for loss of banana and Rs.50,000 per acre of sugarcane and betel vines.

Members of Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangham, led by district president M.Chinnadurai, also staged a demonstration in front of the district collectorate here, demanding a National River Water Policy.

They also sought immediate reduction in the price of fertilizers.

According to them the fertilizer price did not go up before April 1, 2010 as the Central government had been raising the subsidy for fertilizers in accordance with their production cost.

However, after that date, the Central government had decided to introduce ‘nutrient-based subsidy’ and allowed fertilizer companies to fix prices as per the production cost.

“This has jacked up the price by 300 per cent,” they lamented. Besides, the Central government had reduced subsidy for fertilizes substantially during the current financial year and this had also impacted prices adversely. Hence, they pleaded that fertilizer subsidy policy should be reverted to pre-April1, 2010 stage and reduction in prices should be ensured.

They appealed to the Central government to ensure the riparian rights of Tamil Nadu with regard to the Cauvery, Palar and Mullaperiyar rivers. Besides, the proposed Water Management law should not restrict use of water for irrigation and no charges should be levied.

They demanded that the minimum support price be fixed for all farm produce and Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices should have farmers as its members.

They expressed strong opposition to nationalised banks collecting processing charges of three to five per cent for extending crop loans and agricultural jewel loans.

The association urged the government to permit deployment of labourers registered under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme in farming operations in all districts.

“This has already been done on experimental basis in Erode, Virudunagar, Tiruchi and Vellore districts,” it pointed out.The farmers wanted the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme so re-designed that insurance cover should be extended to them on “individual basis”.