Team members assure farmers that reports will reflect the ground reality
The parched Cauvery, dried up borewells, withering banana crop and fallow paddy fields greeted the Central team that toured Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts for a spot assessment on Tuesday.
The team’s visit is in response to a memorandum submitted by the State government recently seeking about Rs.19,665 crore from the Centre as compensation for the losses suffered by the State on account of drought.
Starting their tour along the Cauvery banks in Tiruverumbur block in Tiruchi, the team, led by Manash Choudhuri, Deputy Advisor, Agriculture Division, Union Planning Commission, inspected agricultural fields and met farmers to get a first- hand account of the ground situation in three districts.
At Kuvalakudi in Tiruchi, the team members saw withering banana crop right on the banks of the Cauvery. The crop had started withering even before A. Saravanakumar, a small farmer who had raised banana on his 1.5 acres, could make the first harvest. He had invested Rs.1.50 lakh by taking loans from cooperative society and private lenders. He and several other farmers had attempted to sink borewells but almost all of them had failed owing to the rocky surface. On the river bed, huge borewells for drinking waters schemes too were fast drying up.
During an interaction at the village, farmers’ representatives told the team that the region was facing unprecedented drought. Prominent among the demands of farmers were sanction of the total quantum of compensation sought by the State government from the Centre, waiver of all agricultural loans sanctioned by commercial banks and cooperative societies, sanction of compensation of Rs.20,000 an acre for paddy and Rs.1 lakh an acre for banana; relief for farm labourers, more man days of work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by including agricultural work and sanction of subsidy for cattle fodder.
The team members assured the farmers they would reflect the ground situation in their recommendations. “We are here to validate the memorandum and we will make appropriate recommendations,” said C.J. Jose, one of the team members.
K. Manoharan, another member, told presspersons in Thanjavur that the team was aware that the farmers had lost kuruvai and samba crops during 2012-13. The team would submit its recommendations shortly to a high-power committee, he said. The team also inspected drought mitigation efforts, such as green fodder development, creation of form ponds and drinking water supply works, taken up by the State government in the districts.