District officials’ stand that survey is on fails to cut ice with farmers

A section of farmers’ representatives of Tiruchi district staged a walkout from the monthly farmers’ grievances day meet here on Friday expressing resentment over the delay in sanction of compensation for banana growers who lost the crop because of the severe drought earlier this year.

Farmers in the district had been seeking compensation for banana, coconut, mango, and other horticulture crops which were damaged because of what they termed as “unprecedented drought” and lack of flow in the Cauvery since the monsoon failure last year. Farmers were sore that the Centre had failed to sanction any relief to the State even after deputing a team of officials to assess the extent of damages.

Raising the issue at the grievances meet, chaired by K. Tharbagaraj, District Revenue Officer, farmers’ representatives pointed out that there was no indication on whether they would get any compensation at all and threatened to boycott the meetings.

District officials told farmers that they had conducted a survey and sent a report to the government which stated that 10,000 acres of banana crops had been damaged in the district and were awaiting a response.

Not satisfied with the reply, a section of farmers staged a walkout, led by P. Ayyakannu, State Vice-President, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam.

A. Nagarajan, president, Tamil Nadu Horticulture Crop Producers Association, requested Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to sanction compensation for the banana growers immediately.

Mr. Ayyakannu said although the State government had rescheduled crop loans, farmers were sent notices by a few nationalised banks threatening to publish their photographs in newspapers for defaulting on loans contrary to the assurances given by the Collector earlier. “Are we criminals to deserve such humiliation?,” he wondered and cautioned that farmers would go to New Delhi and commit suicide if such threats continued.

Farmers’ representatives expressed disappointment over the incentive for paddy announced by the State government on Friday. The incentive of Rs. 50 a quintal for ordinary variety and Rs. 70 a quintal for fine variety, over and above the minimum support price (MSP) of the Union government, was too meagre, they said. In a unanimous resolution submitted to the district authorities, they called upon the Centre and State government to increase the MSP for paddy to Rs. 2,000 a quintal and for sugarcane to Rs. 4,000 a tonne.

Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to the CPI, pointed out farmers in the State had lost their kuruvai and samba crops owing to severe drought last year. This year, the kuruvai crop was lost in most places and only now farmers were taking up samba cultivation. The State government should press the Centre to increase the MSP for paddy as per the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee, he said.

P. Viswanathan, president, Tamizhaga Attru Mattrum Eri Pasana Vivasayigal Sangam, said the incentive hardly met the expectations of farmers who had to bear heavy increase in cultivation costs.

R. Raja Chidambaram, State secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, urged the district authorities to correct mistakes in pattas after conducting field surveys. He complained that farmers were not able to get permission from Revenue authorities for taking silt from tanks, especially in Lalgudi taluk.