Special Correspondent

Says State government should also provide assistance for cash crops

Seeks relief of Rs.10,000 an acre

Flays government for lack of coordination

Thiruvananthapuram: The United Democratic Front (UDF) on Wednesday demanded a higher compensation amount for the paddy farmers hit by summer rain.

The Opposition coalition also flayed the State government for failing to take the initiative in putting up a united front while seeking more Central assistance.

Addressing a press conference at the end of the UDF high power committee here on Wednesday, front convener P.P. Thankachan said the Rs.10,000 a hectare relief the State government had announced was insufficient and it should consider providing relief at a rate of Rs.10,000 an acre.

The government should also consider relief for cash crops such as cashew, coffee, cardamom, cloves, pepper, plantain, and vegetables, he said.

The government should take the initiative to bring harvesters to complete the harvest process before the crop was fully damaged.

The UDF meeting flayed the government for its lack of coordination in presenting the real impact of the summer rain and the State’s case for higher compensation amounts before the Central government.

“The onus is on the State government, particularly the Chief Minister, to effectively present the State’s case.

“Instead of sending a delegation comprising Ministers of Finance, Agriculture, Revenue and the Chief Minister himself, what we witnessed was the spectacle of Ministers coming from various routes and providing contradictory figures on the actual damages suffered by the farmers,” he said.

It was unfortunate that the Chief Minister did not make an effort to carry all parties along or discuss the issue with the Opposition.

“It is such negative attitude that is responsible for the State’s inability to get its due,” the UDF convenere pointed out..

Chengara agitation

The UDF clarified its stand on the Chengara agitation stating that the government should identify illegal land being held by private parties and redistribute it among the eligible landless poor in accordance with the existing mechanism. The UDF was opposed to the use of force to evict the agitators. A conciliatory talks convened by the Chief Minister was prejudiced and the language that the Chief Minister and Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes A.K. Balan was not conciliatory.

The UDF felt that the CPI(M) did not have the moral right to talk about the encroachment by tribals as it had spearheaded similar campaigns in Aaralam, Ambayathodu, Chinnakanal and Nelliyampathy while the UDF was in power. The party was misusing its administrative powers to oppose independent struggles as the ones being witnessed in Chengara. The CPI(M) was prepared to legalise only those encroachments spearheaded by it, Mr. Thankachan said.

The UDF also condemned the left youth organisations’ attack on educational institutions owned by minority communities. It wanted the police to inquire into the death of a student at Mar Athanasious College instead of allowing the left youth organisations to take law into their hands. “We feel that there is a devious plot to destroy self-financing institutions,” he remarked.

Mr. Thankachan alleged the State administration and Ministers were being controlled by the liquor lobby. Referring to the transfer of Rishiraj Singh, an IPS officer, for having led raids on liquor dens, Mr. Thankachan said the LDF should ponder over such state of affairs.