TAMIL NADU

Farmers’ association plans demonstrations

Staff Reporter

Coimbatore: The Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangham has decided to stage demonstrations in front of the Collectorates in the third week of September demanding loan waiver scheme, against land acquisition, end to wild boar menace and fixation of procurement prices.

In a memorandum, the State President of the Sangham, M.R. Sivasamy, said that a meeting of the association had passed a number of resolutions on the measures to protect the farm sector. One of the resolutions said the Central and State Governments should evolve measures to extend relief to the agricultural sector by waiving farm loans outstanding as on February 29, 2008. Such a measure would boost agricultural production and help combat inflation.

Scheme

The resolution added that the agricultural loan waiver scheme introduced by the Centre was not yielding any major benefits to the farmers. As per the scheme, farmers who had availed loans prior to March 31, 2007 that fell due on December 31 and not paid till 2008 alone were being waived.

With March 31 being the accounting deadline for the banks, farmers used to pay back the loans and renew the same with a fresh loan. Under the loan waiver scheme, big farmers with a land holding of over five acres had to repay their loans for availing a 25 per cent waiver. Above all, the entire loan waiver scheme was nothing but an existing practice of one-time loan settlement adopted by the banks for reducing their non-performing assets.

Hence, as it was done by the State Government without any discrimination as small and big farmers, all farm loan outstandings as on February 29, 2008 should be waived by the Centre. The meeting also resolved to intensify and step up the Save Agriculture Movement. In the last 30 years, successive governments, both at the Centre and State, had focussed on industrial development totally neglecting agriculture.

Prices

With agriculture becoming an unviable sector, farmers have given up farming resulting in prices of essential commodities going up.

Another resolution urged the government to give up the proposed Neelambur – Mettupalayam bypass road and convert the existing Mettupalayam Road into a four-lane one. Irrespective of whether the land was meant for public or private use, acquisition should be done as per the market rate and not based on the guideline value. Citing crop damage caused by wild boars, it demanded that wild boars be excluded from the Wildlife Protection Act.

The sangham also demanded that the procurement price for various commodities should be fixed as follows: sugarcane - Rs 2,000 per tonne;, paddy - Rs 1,500 per quintal; copra – Rs. 60 per kg; and milk at Rs. 20 per litre.

To press these demands, the sangham had planned to organise agitations in front of Collectorates across the State.

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