The unseasonal incessant rains have caused severe damage to the farmers in the delta and southern districts in Tamil Nadu.
Crops ready for harvest including paddy, sugarcane, banana and a number of rainfed crops, raised in more than 8 lakh acres are submerged under water for days together. With the state recording the highest rainfall in January during the past 100 years, the farmers are claiming that their crops have suffered 100% damage causing severe loss.
The farmers, led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) held a statewide demonstration on January 20 demanding compensation and submitted a list of demands to the state government through the tehsil offices. Their demands include compensation of Rs 30,000 per acre, waiver of agriculture loans, disbursal of crops insurance for the previous two marketing years and new loans.
FARMERS SUBMIT APPLICATION FOR RELIEF
The farmers were expecting high yields due to the monsoon rains, but the cyclones and unseasonal rains have dashed their hopes and they are now waiting for the state government to initiate estimating the losses.
P Shanmugam, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam which isaffiliated to the AIKS, told NewsClick, “The farmers are lamenting the huge loss they have suffered due to the unseasonal rains in January. While the government is making high claims of providing relief to the farmers, that exists only in papers. The farmers of Nagapattinam district have confirmed that no government officials have visited the affected areas to estimate the damages even after a week of the Chief Minister’s announcement.”
The damaged crops include paddy, sugarcane, black and green grams, corn, maize, cotton, onion, ground nut and chilly. The severe water stagnation has left the crops under water for several continuous days, leaving no chance for the farmers to save the crops.
This shocker has come during the harvest festival of Pongal, leaving the farmers at a very high loss. The political parties, too, have echoed the demands of the farmers and have sought Rs 30,000 per acre for the farmers.
SEVERE DAMAGE IN DELTA DISTRICT
With the delta region, which had recently witnessed crop loss due to cyclone Burevi, suffering another round of loss due to the rains, the farmers are now up in arms against the alleged inaction of the state machinery. Earlier on January 16, the farmers of the region led by the AIKS and Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] blocked the traffic in Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts.
Also read: Cyclone Burevi: Continuous Rainfall Damages Paddy and Sugarcane Crops in Delta Districts
The farmers from Trichy district also took to the roads, forcing the district collector and revenue officials to visit the affected areas. More than 70,000 acres of crops have been reportedly damaged in Pudukottai district. The farmers of Ariyalur district have suffered damage of crops in around 2,000 acres as per initial estimation. Not only that, the farmers are alleging the administration remained apathetic even on visiting the affected areas.
The farmers have demanded Rs 30,000 compensation for paddy and other crops while the groundnut cultivators have sought Rs 60,000 per acre considering the high input cost and other costs involved.
SOUTHERN DISTRICT NOT SPARED
The districts of Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli witnessed heavy rains during the first two weeks of January, leaving crops growing in around 2 lakh acres damaged. Crops in seven taluks of Thoothukudi district have reportedly suffered 100% damage.
Detailing the damage to crops, K P Arumugam, Thoothukudi district secretary of AIKS, told Newsclick, “Around 1.5 lakh acres of crops have suffered extensive damage. Seven taluks in the district rely on river water and monsoon rains for cultivation. The excess rains and overflowing Tamirabharani river has resulted in irreparable loss for the farmers.”
The districts of Dindigul, Theni, Sivagangai, Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli have also suffered due to rain water stagnation and breaching of rivers and lakes. The crops include onion, chilly, corn and rye.
On January 18, around 500 farmers from parts of Thoothukudi tried to enter the district collector’s office with the damaged crops, but were prevented by the police. The district administration later held talks with the agitating farmers and assured to carry out damage estimation immediately.
The water stagnation in the fields are yet to recede leaving them inaccessible for the farmers. The survival of these crops is near impossible as they have started to rot in the field itself, according to the farmers.
INSURANCE FAILS TO SAVE FARMERS
On the other hand while the government has insisted the farmers to insure their crops, the farmers complain of low and non payment of compensation. The insurance premium covers hardly 30% of the actual cost incurred by the farmers, according AIKS leaders.
Also read: TN This Week: Cyclone Nivar Causes Severe Crop Damages, North Chennai Residents Allege Neglect, Over 50,000 Detained During Nov 26 Strike
“The compensation paid to crops vary from Rs 9,100 to Rs 11,000 for 100% damage of crops. Even this compensation is very low compared to the actual expenses. The accessors on most occasions underestimate the damages, leaving the farmers with very less compensation,” Arumugam added.
The government lacks urgency in estimating the crop damage as the delayed visit of the officers result in lowered estimation, allege the farmers. “The officials visit after the rain water recedes and we remove the remains from the fields. They return after underestimating the losses incurred by the farmers,” he alleged.
The farmers from many districts including Dindigul have alleged of non-payment of compensation for 2017-18 and 2018-19 marketing years.
“Such things continue to happen in most parts of the state. The compensation is not being paid to many farmers, leaving them to live at the mercy of money lenders, who charge exorbitant interest. The government should ensure agriculture loans are disbursed to all the farmers and compensation is paid to the affected,” Arumugam further said.