A team from the Centre on Wednesday inspected the slew of measures initiated by the State government to mitigate drought conditions in Nagapattinam district.
Making a strong case for tangible drought relief from the Centre, farmers who met the team at Manakudi, called for delinking crop relief from crop insurance, wanted the compensation amount for drought-affected fields to be raised.
The State government’s relief amount of Rs.15,000 per acre was inclusive of the crop insurance claims of farmers. Urging the team to concede the State’s demand of Rs.19,665 crore towards drought relief, farmers pegged the production loss in the delta region at 19.50 lakh tonnes. According to Kaveri V.Danapalan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Protection Association, the production loss worked out to Rs.2,827 crore and Rs.950 crore revenue loss for its five lakh farmers. Further, the loss of wage days for farm labourers amounted to Rs.18 crore a day.
Samandam of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Thozhilalar Sangam, Thalainayar, called for uniform compensation even for lands that were left uncultivated. Farmers had left their lands fallow solely because of their inability to borrow due to water scarcity and imminent crop failure. For all practical reasons, the farmers should be considered eligible for compensation deeming their loss as crop loss, he said.
Focussing on water conservation, Somu Elango, a progressive farmer from Thalainayar, indicated that about 64.5 tmc water was lost annually as run-off into the sea. Conserving this water required desilting of channels and rivers, strengthening of embankments and setting up of ponds. Funds had to be directed towards strengthening community assets towards water conservation. He also wanted the debt of farmers written off.
Among the first stops the team made was at a field where sorghum was being cultivated under the fodder feed scheme at Panangudi. The scheme provides for subsidised cultivation of sorghum by drought-hit farmers and simultaneously increases fodder availability for lactating cattle, distributed under the free livestock scheme. K.Manoharan, Director-in-charge, Directorate of Tobacco, said a report would be submitted to the government in two days.
The team led by Manash Choudhury, Deputy Advisor, Agricultural Division, Planning Commission included V.Srikanth, Deputy Director, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance; C.J.Jose, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Power; R.Sundramurthi, Superintending Engineer, Cauvery and Southern Rivers Organisation, Coimbatore.
Special Correspondent adds from Pudukottai
The team visited Nakudi and Gopalasamuthiram villages in Aranthangi taluk in Pudukottai district. District Collector C. Manoharan and other officials explained the gravity of the situation to the team members. T. Sengodan, CPI district secretary, in his petition said the entire district was reeling under severe drought and the team should take more time to take stock of the situation. Representatives of various farmers associations submitted a memorandum to the team demanding early allotment of drought relief and hike in compensation.