(Farmers and residents from Annur block during the rally to Coimbatore against the land acquisition for the industrial park on December 3.)
Tamil Nadu: The marginal workers in Tamil Nadu are frequently taking to the streets on a variety of demands, including opposition to forceful land acquisition, Minimum Support Price (MSP) and payment of dues for sugarcane supplied to mills.
The farmers in Annur and Mettupalayam blocks in the Coimbatore district have been protesting for more than one year against the proposed industrial park by the Tamil Nadu Industries Development Corporation (TIDCO).
Another section of farmers in Kumbakonam in the delta region, the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu is demanding a hike in MSP for paddy and sugarcane. They refer to the MSPs provided in Chhattisgarh and demand the implementation by the government of Tamil Nadu.
The misery of the sugarcane farmers seems to have no end, as the private mills delay the disbursal of payment for the sugarcane supplied. A section of sugarcane farmers in Thanjavur district is on an indefinite sit-in protest demanding the same.
Strikingly, the state government’s attention is largely lacking, leading to continuous protests from the farmers.
AGAINST LAND ACQUISITION FOR INDUSTRIAL PARK
Thousands of farmers and residents of several villages in the Annur and Mettupalayam blocks have been protesting for more than 13 months. The additional Chief Secretary of the Industries and Commerce department has published the Government Order (GO) providing Administrative Sanction (AS) to acquire 1391.93 hectares (ha) from four villages of Annur block and 171.82 ha from two villages of Mettupalayam block.
The farmers and residents of the Annur block, from where a bulk of the land for the park is proposed to be acquired, who depend solely on agriculture have been on the warpath against the project, citing loss of livelihood.
Irked by the inaction of the government and the district administration, the farmers have been holding various forms of protest. The farmers held a hunger strike on November 28 followed by a rally from Manneswarar temple in Annur to Vinayagar temple at Puliyankulam in Coimbatore on December 3.
“We submitted our demands to the idols in the temple, after the government remained insensitive to our demands on livelihood,” read a statement by the coordination committee of the protesting farmers.
INCREASE MSP FOR PADDY AND SUGARCANE
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government, as per its poll promise, has presented a separate agriculture budget, but the farmers are hardly impressed. The meagre increase in the MSP for paddy did not impress the farmers by any means.
The sugarcane farmers have been demanding the restoration of the State Advisory Price (SAP) but the government is yet to respond. The demand for Rs 4,000 per quintal for cane is also unmet.
The Tamil Nadu Cauvery Farmers Protection Association are critical of both the state government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Central government for the sufferings of the farmers for want of MSP. They have demanded the Central Government double the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
A section of the farmers from Kumbakonam in the delta region are travelling to Chhattisgarh to thank the government for increasing the procurement price for paddy and sugarcane.
AWAITING DUES FROM MILLS
The private sugar mills inordinately delaying payment to the farmers is a never-ending story in Tamil Nadu. The farmers in Thanjavur who supplied sugarcane to the Thiruarroran mills are on an indefinite sit-in protest seeking immediate disbursal of the pending dues.
The farmers have claimed that the mill owes them Rs 100 crores towards the sugarcane supplied during the previous harvesting seasons. The farmers have also accused the same mill of borrowing around Rs 500 crores from banks in their names.