By Sukshma Ramakrishnan
Chennai, March 22, 2017: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Tamil Nadu State Vice President, MN Raja has criticised the AIADMK government, saying that they could have curbed farmer suicides in the state if they had provided proper drought insurance.
“About three or four months ago, the government of India paid around Rs. 180 crores to the Tamil Nadu state government for drought insurance for farmers. Along with the state government’s own allocation, there was around Rs. 400 crores. If the farmers had got their compensations in advance, these many number of suicide deaths would not have happened,” said MN Raja, accusing the state government of not letting the drought relief percolate.
He also criticized the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and the AIADMK government in the state for not taking long-term sustainable measures to promote agriculture in the state.
On the other hand, the Tamil Nadu farmers protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi with skulls of dead farmer suicide victims since March 14, are not satisfied with the BJP government’s response, even as the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Union Water Minister Uma Bharti met them yesterday to hear their demands.
The Marxist Communist Party of India (CPI(M)) are offering their full support to the farmers, echoing their demands. “We have been carrying out various demonstrations all over the country too in support of farmers. If the government does not take up the farmers’ demands, we will continue to fight,” said senior Tamil Nadu CPI (M) leader, TK Shanmugam.
However, just yesterday, the central drought inspection team recommended a drought fund of only around Rs. 2,000 crores for Tamil Nadu, while the demand from the farmers was for around Rs. 40,000 crores.
“All the ministers and leaders who have so far come to see us are saying that all our demands for loan waiving and rivers interlinking are justified. They say that they support us. But, no solid steps have been taken by the BJP government. They have not really supported us in the case of Cauvery or Mullaperiyar too,” said P Ayya Kannu, one of the leaders of the protest.
He also condemned the BJP government for not taking up projects of interlinking rivers seriously. “The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) came out with feasibility studies of interlinking rivers. All the possibilities of river linking have been put forth as a proposal. This can be taken up only by the central government but they have ignored it. Nothing has been done in terms of implementation or even allocation of funds for the projects,” said Ayya Kannu.
The NWDA has done water balance studies of various major river basins including Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Pennar, Cauvery, Vaigai, and the West flowing rivers of Kerala, and Karnataka, to establish water surplus and deficit regions. Feasibility studies for 16 probable river links had been carried out.
Reacting to this, Raja said that the farmers never came to their office seeking help and that they went to protest out on the street. “Had they come to us directly, we would have immediately taken up the issue. The best way is, better to take confidence in BJP (sic). We don’t want to support Karnataka, Kerala or Telengana. We want to support Tamil Nadu and Tamil People,” he added.