A meeting of political parties chaired by DMK working president M K Stalin on Sunday decided to observe a state-wide bandh on April 25 in support of drought-hit Tamil Nadu farmers. The proposed shutdown is an attempt to urge the Centre and the state government to immediately act upon the demands of farmers and farm labourers protesting in various parts of the state and in Delhi.
The Centre should treat the drought as a “national disaster” and declare Tamil Nadu “disaster-hit” in view of the unprecedented conditions, a resolution adopted at the meeting said.
The Centre should provide relief as per the law for disaster-hit people, it said.
A public meeting will be held here on April 22 to explain the need for the bandh, the resolution said.
According to another resolution, a delegation comprising leaders of political parties would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They will be joined by farmers staging protest for over a month in Delhi. They would and urge the PM to take steps to address the problems the farmers are facing.
The meeting urged the Centre to waive loans taken by farmers from nationalised banks and help the state in writing off cooperative loans.
The meeting demanded the state government immediately implement the Madras High Court’s recent order to waive loans availed by farmers from cooperative banks. It also wanted 2017-18 medium term loans of ryots to be written off.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunavukkarasar, state Secretaries of CPI (M) and CPI, G Ramakrishnan and R Mutharasan respectively, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, K M Khader Mohideen of IUML and MMK chief MH Jawahirullah were among those who participated.
The leaders condemned the Centre’s stand that it had no plans to waive farm loans.
Union Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar had recently told Parliament the Centre had no plans to waive farm loans.
Addressing the meeting, Stalin blamed both the state and Centre for not acting on issues affecting the people including river water disputes with neighbouring states.
Another resolution demanded setting up of Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Waters Regulatory Authority immediately and convening a special meet of the state Assembly to discuss farmers’ issues.
The meeting urged the Centre and state governments to declare the Cauvery Delta region as Special Agriculture Zone.
Stating that the relief package, including Rs 5,465 for paddy per acre announced by the state, has not reached all the farmers, the meeting wanted the state government to immediately disburse relief.
Condoling alleged farmers’ suicide, the meeting wanted the state government to give appropriate aid to their indigent families.
The relief should be distributed to “all farmers” without distinguishing them as “small and marginal.” Similar relief should be given to farm labourers.
Other demands include remunerative price for paddy, sugarcane, immediate disbursal of cane arrears to the farmers, increasing the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to 152 ft and cancelling Methane and Hydrocarbon projects.