On a solo mission to save agriculture

T. Balamurugan, who is on a solo cycling expedition from Kanyakumari to Chennai at Tiruchi on Monday.

T. Balamurugan, who is on a solo cycling expedition from Kanyakumari to Chennai at Tiruchi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

A 26-year-old youth, on a solo bicycle expedition to “save agriculture” arrived in Tiruchi on Monday.

Miffed over the indiscriminate conversion of agricultural lands into housing plots, T. Balamurugan of Vadakkipatti near Mannachanallur in Tiruchi district, a mason, began the expedition in Kanniyakumari on February 18. The youth, who grew up in Mannachanallur, had been upset on seeing the large scale conversion of agricultural fields into plots by real estate promoters in Mannachanallur, Bikshandarkoil and Samayapuram in Tiruchi district.

He was toying with the idea of going on a State-level bicycle expedition for some time to create awareness among the people, officials and other stakeholders.

Mr. Balamurugan started his campaign at Kanniyakumari on February 17 after buying a bicycle for ₹1,250. He then fixed a national flag and a few boards on the bicycle bearing slogans on “Save Agriculture”. He began the expedition on February 18 from the bus stand in Kanniyakumari.

He pedals for about 80 km a day. He sleeps in the bus shelters en route in the nights. At villages and towns, Mr.Balamurugan stops his bicycles and distributes pamphlets to the people on the need to save agriculture. He invariably speaks to the people on the danger of indiscriminate conversion of lands into plots.

After covering nearly 400 km via Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga and Madurai districts, Mr. Balamurugan arrived at his home district on Monday. He presented a petition at the weekly grievance day meet, seeking the intervention of the government to come out with an elaborate and efficient mechanism to check conversion of agricultural lands.

“I have seen conversion of more than 5,000 acres of well irrigated paddy fields into plots in Mannachanallur alone. Just imagine the extent of converted lands in the State. If it is unchecked, the country will face acute shortage of foodgrains in the future, Mr. Balamurugan warns.

He says that his campaign has got a good reception in villages. Besides listening to him, people offer him buttermilk, coffee and cool drinks. But, no one bothers to listen to him in towns, Mr. Balamurugan laments. He plans to reach Chennai on Friday.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 5:19:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/on-a-solo-mission-to-save-agriculture/article30906161.ece

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