INDIA: TN farmers demand US$311.5 million in back payments immediately

Published: 08/11/2017, 11:27:52 AM

Arrears to the tune of INR20 billion (US$311.5 million for supply of cane to sugar mills should be settled to cane growers immediately, Tamil Nadu Farmers' Association State general secretary P. Shanmugam said here on Thursday, according to India's Hindu newspaper.

Talking to press persons, he said 11 sugar mills had not settled arrears amounting to INR16.60 billion for the past four years. The State government should direct all sugar mills to settle the arrears immediately to five lakh farmers.

Claiming that around 1.2 million hectares of land were utilised for non-agricultural purposes between 2000 and 2016 in the country, he demanded that the practice be stopped immediately. Agriculture was in a state of extinction owing to acute drought and shrinkage in area under cultivation.

Even as the State government declared Tamil Nadu a ‘power surplus State,' new connections for free power were not given to farmers for the past 10 years. More than 250,000 farmers in the State were awaiting free power. But the government was sanctioning power under ‘tatkal' scheme. It should be abolished and sanction should be made on seniority basis, he said.

Shanmugam also expressed concern over fixing of meters for free power for agriculture.

He said the Centre should not allow private insurance companies in the area of crop insurance. Compensation to the tune of INR4.88 billion had been disbursed under the crop insurance scheme by nationalised banks in Thiruvarur district whereas private insurance firms had settled just INR100 million in Cuddalore district, he pointed out.

One hundred thousand tribal families in the State would hoist black flags to protest against inordinate delay in implementing Forest Protection Act 2006, he added.

A three-day State-level farmers' conference would be held in Cumbum from August 27 to 29 to discuss various issues affecting farmers and to draw the attention of the Central and State governments to their plight.