Farmers representatives sought to impress upon the Central team that toured the delta districts on Tuesday the need for sanctioning relief quickly to all farmers as the drought has had a severe impact.
Several farmers also insisted that the Centre sanction the full quantum of compensation sought by the State (which has sought about Rs.19,665 crore as drought relief).
“This visit should not turn out to be a ritualistic one and lead to a political blame game. Farmers have suffered much mental agony and you should sanction adequate relief to them,” said G.K. Muralidharan of the Congress, at an interaction with the team at Vengur.
While monsoon failure and absence of flow in the Cauvery have caused crop losses in the delta region, farmers in non-delta areas too have been badly hit. Even in canal and river-irrigated areas, borewells have not been of much help owing the severe drought, they told the Central team visiting the delta region in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, and Tiruvarur districts on Tuesday.
M. Shanmugavel, a farmer of Vengur, explained how he had sustained heavy losses after investing Rs.20,000 an acre to raise samba paddy in about 4.70 acres. He harvested five bags of paddy against the normal of 40 bags an acre. His neighbour, S.Natarajan showed a failed borewell for which he had spent Rs.36, 000. He could hardly pump water for five minutes at a stretch.
Ayilai Sivasurivyan, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to the CPI (M), said farmers in non-delta areas of the district, dependent on tanks for irrigation, have also been badly affected and the team should cover the entire district to assess the requirements of all farmers. However, Collector Jayashree Muralidharan said the team has been briefed on the situation in the entire district. “When the situation is so bad right along the Cauvery, the plight of farmers in other parts of the district could very well be imagined,” she said.
C. Masilamani, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, said apart from farmers who had suffered losses after raising different crops, those who were forced to leave their fields fallow for want of water, and farm labourers should also be compensated. Similarly, farmers who had not insured their crop should also be given relief.
A. Nagarajan of the farmers’ wing of the Congress and M.P. Chinnadurai of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam demanded a waiver of all agricultural loans given by commercial banks and cooperative societies. Mr.Nagarajan said farmers should be sanctioned Rs.20,000 an acre for paddy and Rs.1 lakh an acre for banana.
Mr.Chinnadurai also sought work right through the year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme covering agricultural work. Steps should also be taken to interlink national rivers.
P. Viswanathan, president, Tamilaga Eri Matrum Aatrupasana Vivasayigal Sangam, sought a compensation of Rs.20,000 an acre for cotton growers.
R. Subramanian of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Association sought assistance for renovating the 17 irrigation canals fed by the Cauvery. Farmers dependent on the canals have sustained heavy losses owing to lack of water and their long term interests need to be protected.
N.Ganesan of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam drew the attention of the team to the drinking water shortage faced in many places with farmers facing problems in getting adequate water even for cattle. Farmers should also be given fodder at subsidy.
In Thanjavur and Tiruvarur, farmers pointed out that they had lost both kuruvai and samba crops this year in canal irrigated areas in the district.
They also sought funds from Central government to develop the irrigation infrastructure in the district. The team also inspected the farmers festivals held in different villages across the three districts.