Farmers from 3 villages gather at Collectorate to protest

The district administration’s move to enforce a crop holiday for rabi to facilitate modernisation works in parts of the delta area triggered protests from farmers. A large number of farmers from Gondi, Gutlapadu and Gollavanitippa villages at the tail-end of the Losari Main Channel came in trucks to the collectorate to express their resentment over the crop holiday proposal.

The district Irrigation Advisory Board (IAB) meeting held here recently proposed to enforce the crop holiday in the areas where the farmers reportedly expressed their willingness to forego rabi for improvement of canals and drains.

The Losari Main Channel figures in the list of the canals and drains proposed for modernisation by enforcing the crop holiday.

Farmers’ charge

However, the protesters from these three villages stated that none of them was consulted by any official agency before taking a decision on closure of the Losari canal on a long-term basis which would deny the ayacut farmers the rabi crop. “Our lands located close to the sea are susceptible to turning saline if they fail to receive the canal water and thereby become unfit for cultivation. The lands are also not feasible for irrigation of dry crops as being promoted by the official agencies as a substitute to rabi during the crop holiday period,” they said in a petition submitted to Collector Siddharth Jain. There is an extent of 10,000 acres under the jurisdiction of these three villages being fed by the Losari channel.

The farmers, mostly sharecroppers, said they were subjected to crop losses for the last three years due to adverse weather conditions, including the kharif in the current season, and that they could not afford to lose one more crop.

They accused the local MLA and the former Water Users Association leaders of trying to promote the agenda of contractors in favour of the crop holiday by ignoring the interests of farmers.

B. Balaram, secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Rytu Sangham, who led the agitation, said it was unfair on the part of the government to push through the crop holiday proposal at a time when the farmers were in distress while blaming it for its alleged lapses to complete the modernisation project in time in spite of the farmers having observed the crop holiday twice for the purpose in the past.