Spurious entry of outstation paddy for procurement by the direct procurement centres in the district was the most contested topic at the monthly farmers grievance meeting on Thursday. Information on entry and sale of outstation paddy in the DPCs in parts of Mayiladuthurai led to incensed debates, calling upon the administration to step in to curb such procurements.

The CPI(M)-affiliated Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam has proposed to hold human chain protests in the delta districts on February 2, demanding announcement of crop relief for failure of samba.

V.Subramanyam, district secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, announced that the human chain demonstrations would be held to press forth the demand for compensation of Rs.25,000 per acre, and Rs.10,000 per family of agricultural labourers for the delta. Calling for fodder subsidy, Samandam of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, said that free livestock scheme was inadequate in the absence of fodder subsidy for poor beneficiaries.

The sand mining undertaken by the PWD along Mudikondan river came under flak from farmers of the area. According to Alexander, Mayiladuthurai, reckless mining along the river would impact on water availability in the summer; he urged the PWD to halt works.

The Agricultural department and the administration stood cornered for issuing a misconstrued press release issued on the Government Order for subsidised pipes for irrigation. Holding out the GO copy, Kaveri Danapalan of Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Protection Association, stated that the scheme of HDPE pipes at subsidy to pump out water from community water bodies was announced to revive samba crop in the wake of acute water shortage. The GO based on National Agricultural Development Programme guidelines, clearly mentioned that “priority” will be accorded for small and marginal farmers, and SC/STs among these farmers. However, the department had interpreted the GO to exclude farmers owning more than two acres, thereby falling outside the category of marginal farmers.

Collector T.Munusamy regretted the oversight, and assured that a revised release will be issued. However, farmers concurred that the damage was already done by excluding even those farmers with marginal holdings of five acres or less.

Mr.Danapalan also demanded that the State government increase its share of support price from Rs.50 to Rs.300 per quintal. As of now, the support price for per quintal of paddy was Rs.1,300 and farmers have been demanded that the Centre revise the price to Rs.2,000. This would have to off set the price hike in diesel and the whopping fertilizer costs. Farmers incurred diesel costs of up to Rs.2,000 per acre, availing subsidy of about Rs.600. The minimum support price should take into account the costs incurred, Mr.Danapalan said. Also, on the illegal procurement of outstation paddy, Mr.Danapalan wondered why the DPCs were kept open while harvest was still incomplete, giving leeway for such procurement. Gobi Ganesan, of Cauvery Delta Paasanadharar Munnetra Sangam, called for setting up of farm ponds, and subsidy for gunny bags for sale of paddy.