488 farmers court arrest in Tirunelveli

At Thoothukudi Collectorate, agriculturalists stage a wait-in protest

Published - December 28, 2016 06:57 pm IST

Thoothukudi: As many as 488 farmers, including 271 women, affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), courted arrest while attempting to lay siege to Tirunelveli Collectorate on Wednesday, urging the State Government to declare Tirunelveli a ‘drought-hit’ district.

The agitation was led by P. Velumayil, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association. Owing to failure of North-east monsoon, the farmers suffered severe crop loss, and hence, the district should be declared ‘drought-hit’, the agitators said.

Until November end, the district had received only 369 mm of rainfall against the average rainfall of 703 mm. Due to poor rainfall, the area under paddy cultivation in the district had shrunk to 5,685 hectares this year from 28,283 ha recorded last year. Paddy crop on a chunk of the area withered due to lack of water, they said.

Rainfed crops such as black gram, green gram, maize and long-term crops like coconut too withered in many areas. Water level in dams came down to unprecedented levels, and wells had no water. This situation had brought agricultural activity to a halt. There was a serious threat to livestock, which did not have grazing land and adequate water to drink. The farmers had also been facing a scarcity of cattle feed, they added.

Recently, Dhaveedhu, a farmer from Madathupatti near Seevalaperi, committed suicide due to drought, the agitators said, and demanded a compensation of Rs. 25,000 per acre of damaged paddy crop, Rs. 50,000 for an acre of damaged sugarcane crop and Rs. 15,000 for an acre of rainfed crops.

Besides, a compensation of Rs. 10,000 should be given to each farmer, whose land turned fallow, and an equal amount should be extended to the families of each farm labour, they stressed.

They also urged the government to waive crop loans taken by the farmers. Cattle feed should be given to them at subsidised rate.

Mr. Velumayil said wages for those engaged under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be increased to Rs. 400 and the 100-day programme should be extended to 200 days.

K.G. Baskaran, district secretary, CPI (M), participated.

In Thoothukudi, the farmers, led by K.P. Perumal, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association, staged a wait-in protest at the Collectorate, pressing for the same demands.

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