KOTTAYAM: Protests are brewing among rubber farmers over the Rubber Board’s decision to wind up nearly 14 regional offices. Farmers’ organisations under the aegis of various political parties staged protests in front of the board headquarters on Friday.
While inaugurating a farmers’ march, Kerala Congress (M) vice-chairman Jose K Mani MP said the closure of regional offices would sabotage the distribution of subsidies to the farmers.
“The board was constituted to enhance the cultivation of rubber and to assist the farmers. It is now engaged in anti-farmer activities. Though the board is authorised to control all the rubber purchases in the country as per Section 14 of the Rubber Act, it failed to fulfil its responsibility,” he said.
CPM ancillary organisation Kerala Karshaka Sangham also staged a dharna in front of the board to protest the closure of offices and the government’s apathy. CPM district secretary V N Vasavan inaugurated the protest.
Vasavan said there was a move to merge the board with the proposed Plantation Export Development Agency (PEDA) aimed at facilitating big plantation owners and corporates.
Kerala Congress (Democratic) chairman Francis George also led a dharna in front of the board’s regional offices.
Janapaksham chairman P C George MLA alleged the Central Government was trying to destroy the economy of the state by ruining the rubber sector.
“By facilitating imports and denying assistance to the farmers, the Union Government is trying to destroy the sector. The Centre has not allocated a single penny even after the repeated requests of the state government to prop up the rubber sector reeling under a crisis owing to the fall in prices,” he said.