A debate in the Assembly on problems faced by farmers on Thursday saw Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi reiterating the government position that the free power supply scheme will not be withdrawn.
Responding to observations of an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member K.P. Anbalagan on the arrest of members of a farmers' organisation who had planned to stage a demonstration in Chennai on Wednesday, the Chief Minister said innocent farmers, who believed a false campaign that the scheme would be scrapped, had embarked on an agitation. Despite the government clarifying its position, some elements were involved the stir for political gains.
During Zero Hour, G.K. Mani (Pattali Makkal Katchi) too raised the issue of arrest of members of the farmers' organisation. Subsequently, a call attention motion on this issue was taken up. Another motion was allowed on the issue of installation of energy-efficient irrigation pump sets.
Videyal S. Sekar (Congress) and P. Dillibabu of Communist Party of India (Marxist) urged the government to release the arrested members. They wanted the government to settle, through negotiations, various issues of the farmers such as remunerative price for sugar cane and procurement price for milk. Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami said the objective behind the installation of pump sets was to achieve reduction in line losses. The government had already made it clear that energy meters would not be installed. Responding to the demand of the members, the Chief Minister said the arrested persons, numbering 196, would be released.
As for the procurement price fixation for milk, the government would convene a meeting of producers and buyers before arriving at a favourable decision.
Keywords: Free power supply