Seeks direction to Central and State governments to take action

A former MLA has filed a public interest litigation petition in the Madras High Court highlighting the sufferings of agriculturists in the country and seeking a direction to the Central and State governments to take action within a reasonable time on his representation to them last month.

“Immediate steps need to be taken on a war footing to save the poor farmers in the country. Unfortunately, no action has been taken till date,” he said.

The petitioner, M. Appavu, who was elected from the Radhapuram constituency for three successive terms, argued in person in Tamil before the First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan. Notice was taken on behalf of the Union Ministries of Finance and Water Resources. The court ordered notice to the Secretaries of various departments of the State government returnable by October 21.

Mr. Appavu said he was basically an agriculturist. He worked as a school teacher since 1980. From 1996 onwards he was elected as an MLA.

He said 23.41 crore out of the total employable population in the country were agriculturists. The normal life of an agriculturist was miserable and they were forced to commit suicide due to the burden of agricultural loans and poverty with loss and damage in cultivation. Compared to 1950, the cultivation had fallen and the government should show interest in increasing cultivation and allot adequate funds to agriculture. Facilities and services to agriculturists should increase, so also the aid and support to them in a proper way. A proper and fair value for agricultural products should be fixed. Fund allotment for agriculture had decreased to 6 per cent in 2012-13 from 14.5 per cent in 1950.

Due to loss and damage to crop, farmers were no longer interested in agriculture and they were migrating to cities for a better livelihood. Nearly one crore farmers had quit agriculture and 14.40 crore had sold their cultivating lands and become agricultural labourers, he claimed.

The former legislator submitted that the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme was disappointing. There was no benefit to farmers.

For crop insurance, the State government was paying 50 per cent as premium, but insurance would be paid only if the loss caused for a revenue firka (five villages) was total. Crop insurance did not cover the loss sustained by an individual farmer due to storm, rain or scarcity of water and diseases.

Scientists and officers did not show keen interest in protecting coconut trees from diseases.

Use of soft drinks may be restricted in the country.

In their place, soft drinks from tender coconuts should be encouraged. Rivers should be inter-linked for the benefit of agriculture.

He sent a detailed representation dated August 21 to the authorities focussing on the sufferings of farmers. But no action was taken, he said.

“Immediate steps need to be taken on a war footing to save the poor farmers in this country”