Tamil Nadu ryots threaten agitation

Special Correspondent

Allege confrontationist attitude in Karnataka

Government urged to waive farm tax"Priority should be given to local farmers, public needs"

CUDDALORE: Though the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal will affect the interest of the Tamil Nadu farmers, their counterparts in Karnataka have adopted a confrontationist attitude and taken to agitation, decrying the award.

In deference to the observations of the tribunal, the Tamil Nadu farmers were remaining patient, but if the trend continues (in Karnataka), they would also resort to agitation, said V. Kannan, president of the Kollidam-Keelanai Paasana Vivasayigal Sangham.

He made this observation at the farmers' grievance day session held here under District Collector Rajendra Ratnoo on Friday. Mr. Kannan said the Tamil Nadu Government was likely to get a World Bank assistance of Rs 2,417 crore for irrigation management. He called upon the Collector to impress upon the Government to sanction a major portion of the fund for desilting the Veeranam tank, particularly its southern side where the rate of sedimentation was quite high, and also the Naraikkal Eri.

Mr. Kannan urged the Government to totally waive kist (farm tax) for 2005 when the farmers were gravely affected by floods, and roll back the two to five-fold increase in the levy. The Government had increased the kist for irrigated single crop from Rs 67.94 to Rs 133.84 per acre, and for rainfed areas from Rs 15.75 to Rs 75.75 per acre.

Vijayakumar, president of the Sethiathope Anicut Farmers' Welfare Association, questioned the propriety of the officials to close the Veeranam tank for irrigation on the date of closure of the Mettur Dam on January 28. He said about 14,000 acres downstream were dependent, much beyond January 28. Eversince the Metrowater had taken over the water management of the tank, the officials were paying scant attention to the local needs.

Mr. Vijayakumar also stressed the point that priority should be given to fulfilling the requirements of local farmers and public before tapping the source for any other purpose.

T. Ravindran, district president of the All India Agricultural Labourers' Association, expressed concern over politicisation of welfare measures. S. Venkatesan of the Theevalur Anicut Farmers' Welfare Association, called upon the Collector to remove all the encroachments from the water sources and the "kalam poromboke."