TAMIL NADU

Villagers boycott election over non-payment of crop insurance

The polling station at Kattavilagam near Thiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district wore a deserted look on Thursday.L. BalachandarL_Balachandar

The polling station at Kattavilagam near Thiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district wore a deserted look on Thursday.L. BalachandarL_Balachandar  

More than 2,000 voters, mostly farmers and their family members, in at least four villages, have boycotted polling in protest against non-payment of crop insurance for the year 2017-18.

When polling commenced at 6 a.m. on Thursday, people in seven villages in Thiruvadanai Assembly segment of Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha constituency announced their decision to boycott the polling in protest against inordinate delay in payment of crop insurance.

Officials rushed to the villages and held talks with them. Thereafter, people in three villages agreed to withdraw their boycott and began voting after 4 p.m. while people in four villages, including Kattavilagam, Kallavaliyendal and Ayakudi, stuck to their decision.

Assuring full payment, senior officials from agriculture department requested them to take part in the democratic process but the villagers failed to turn up at the polling stations. Till 5 p.m. no one from the four villages turned up to vote, officials said. Kattavilagam and Kallavaliyendal alone registered 1,604 votes, they said.

The farmers said they had suffered 100% crop loss during 2017-18 due to failure of north east monsoon and despite having insured their crops under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, they could not get relief. They had been fighting for payment for more than three months.

A. Namasivayam, a farmer from Kattavilagam, said when they had staged a protest in front of the VAO office two weeks ago, police and revenue officials had assured that full crop insurance payment would be credited into the bank accounts of affected farmers by April 11.

As there was no sign of the payment, they held a village meeting two days ago and decided to boycott the polls. Officials tried to persuade them on Thursday but they were firm. They would cast votes only if they were paid crop insurance and re-poll was held, farmers told officials, he said.

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