Farmers representatives of Tiruchi district have urged the government to suspend implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) works for three months until the end of the samba season in view of shortage of labour for agriculture work.

Raising the issue at the farmers’ grievance day meeting here on Friday, farmers said that there was an acute shortage of labour in rural areas as most of the labourers were opting for the NREGS works rather than agriculture work. This has adversely affected the farm operations as the samba season has just begun.

The president of the district Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association G. Kanagasabai suggested that the NREGS should be ideally implemented for nine months in a year, during the non-agricultural season. This would ensure that agricultural labourers got employment throughout the year.

P. Ayyakkanu, State general secretary, Bharathiya Kisan Sangh, and A. Nagarajan of the Congress farmers wing, also pressed the demand and insisted that the government should suspend the works for three months until the samba cultivation was over.

With Collector T.Soundiah, who was in the chair, stating that it was not an issue to be decided at his level, the farmers’ representatives urged him to convey their sentiments to the government.

“Raise paddy price”

Mr. Kanagasabai appealed to the government to increase the procurement price of paddy to Rs.1,500 a quintal as most farmers were not able to go in for kuruvai cultivation this year. He also appealed to the State government to prevent the Kerala government from taking up a survey for building a new dam across Mullaperiyar.

He called upon the district administration to open direct paddy purchase centres (DPCs) in the district at the earliest. Mr. Soundiah said that DPCs had been opened at Lalgudi, Anbil, Thinniyam and Alangudi Mahajanam.

Based on a complaint from Mr. Ayyakannu, the Collector instructed the Public Works Department officials to ensure that the tail-end areas of the Uyyakkondan areas received adequate water for irrigation.

Plea for siphon

Mr. Ayyakkannu also appealed to the Collector to direct the PWD to build a siphon across the Coleroon river to drain the surplus water flow from the Kuvalai canal directly into the Vennar.

Later, officials of the Agricultural Engineering Department demonstrated a power-weeder for the benefit of farmers.