Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has said that the State government has done “cruel injustice” to paddy farmers of Kuttanad by not taking necessary precautionary measures to prevent crop damage due to summer rain.

Speaking to the presspersons after visiting paddy polders and interacting with farmers affected by the recent summer rain at Veeyapuram, Edathua and Champakulam here on Thursday, Mr. Chandy said the government had failed to learn lessons from the damage caused by seasonal and unseasonal rain in previous years and therefore, the present damage could not be seen as an isolated incident.

Combine harvester machines, as suggested by the M.S. Swaminathan Commission in the Kuttanad Package, were still a major issue in the region.

The Kuttanad Prosperity Council headed by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to oversee implementation of the package, had decided six months back to purchase 50 harvester machines. But the decision was still on paper and the devastating consequences were to be seen in the paddy fields of Kuttanad now.

Stating that the Government, apart from making urgent arrangements to ensure adequate combine harvesters by Monday, Mr. Chandy said it should also seriously think of utilising the services of labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to solve the labour shortage in Kuttanad.

These labourers should be deployed in areas where combine harvesters were rendered immobile due to the slushy fields, he said.

Mr. Chandy said the farmers had complained that the compensation promised by the government, of Rs.10,000 a hectare, was inadequate.

Kerala Congress leader K.C. Joseph, P.C. Vishnunath and A.A. Shukoor, MLAs, along with senior Congress leaders K.S. Vasudeva Sharma, G. Balachandran and C.R. Jayaprakash accompanied Mr. Chandy.

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