Special Correspondent

PUDUCHERRY: Rallying under the banner of the Puducherry Vivasaya Thozhilalar Sangam, a large number of farm workers courted arrest in the Union Territory to highlight demands such as activation of the welfare society and implemention of various other welfare schemes.

Sangam president R.Viswanathan and general secretary A. Ramamurthy said in a statement here that the protest was held at 60 places in Puducherry and Karaikal regions. In some areas, activists courted arrest by picketing government offices and in certain other areas, road-roko agitation was conducted, they added.

Though the Chief Minister announced in his budget speech that the interest of the farm hands would be protected through the Pondicherry Agricultural Workers’ Welfare Society, the Government had not initiated steps to activate the organisation, they alleged.

They urged the Government to take immediate steps to enrol farm workers as members and issue identity cards to them so that they would be able to avail themselves of various benefits offered by the society. They flayed the Government for not distributing free rice to the farm workers in several areas for April, May, June and July, 2007.

The maternity assistance of Rs.6,000 for expectant mothers continued to remain as a distant dream, they alleged.The protest was to highlight the demand for providing Rs.1,000 as Deepavali bonus for agricultural workers, they pointed out.