Farmers showing their withered crop to Central drought team Chairman Vasudha Mishra at Kovilpathu village near Boothalur in Thanjavur on Tuesday.
“The monsoon failed us while Karnataka denied us precious Cauvery water causing our samba and thalady paddy crops on more than nine lakh acres in Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts to wither. Much like our crops, the delta tour of the high-level team constituted by the Supreme Court in October last also did not yield anything significant. We fervently appeal to the Central government through your team that the entire relief amount sought by the State government needs to be sanctioned immediately to provide us some solace and compensation,” desolate farmers pleaded with the team that conducted field inspections in the delta region on Tuesday.
Managing Director of the National Cooperative Development Corporation Vasudha Mishra led the team that also comprised Deenanath, consultant, Finance Commission Division, and Sumeet Kumar, Deputy Director, Union Ministry of Power. Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Revenue Administration K. Satyagopal accompanied the team, which was briefed by District Collectors A. Annadurai (Thanjavur), L. Nirmalraj (Tiruvarur) and S. Palanisamy (Nagapattinam) about the ground situation.
The team visited Kovilpathu, Pudhupattinam, Mela Uloor and Chokkanavoor (all in Thanjavur district), Perugavaazhandan, Vadakadu Kovilur, Uppor and Bamani (all in Tiruvarur district) as also Neermulai, Palaiyoor and Kazhiappanallur (all in Nagapattinam district) to get a first-hand account of the crop damage.
Nagapattinam farmers contended that more than samba and thalady paddy crops on an estimated 3.20 lakh acres had been damaged, two lakh farmers economically devastated and thousands of farm workers rendered jobless. Several farmers had taken their life or suffered deaths due to severe shock, they pointed out, urging the team to recommend to the Centre to grant the entire amount sought by the State government as relief.
In Tiruvarur districts, farmers stressed that denial of Cauvery water in time for the kuruvai and samba paddy cultivation by Karnataka and the absence of the Cauvery Management Board as also the Cauvery Water Regulatory Commission as mandated by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was the root cause of the delta’s ruin this year. Failure of the monsoons only aggravated the situation, they insisted.
Thanjavur farmers demanded that the Centre must release adequate funds to facilitate granting of Rs. 25,000 per acre as relief to all farmers, Rs. 3 lakh to the dependents of those farmers who had died of shock or took their life, waiver of the entire farm loan amount, expeditious delivery of crop insurance compensation and adequate relief for the agricultural workers who are now jobless.
However, all sections of farmers pleaded with the team to bring some result unlike the previous visit that yielded precious little in terms of relief for the suffering farmers. The farmers also noted that a deeper study and a wider assessment coupled with some time for the farmers to vent their grievances would go a long way. They also underlined that the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulatory Commission alone would be a permanent solution.
Meanwhile, another team visited various places in Karur district and took stock of the standing crops such as paddy, maize, red gram and others in Vellianai, Sengal and other villages.
The team members, Vijay Raj Mohan, Director, Trade Extension and Drought Management, Ministry of Agriculture, New Delhi; Santhosh, Assistant Advisor, Ministry of Drinking and Sanitation, New Delhi; and Dheeraj Kumar, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board, also held discussions with Collector K. Govindaraj and other senior officials.