IDUKKI: Despite many attractive offers being rolled out by the Tamil Nadu Government to lure farmers, the number of persons crossing the Kerala border to cash in on the opportunities in the neighbouring state is learnt to have dented over the years.
“Earlier, there was an exodus of farmers to Tamil Nadu. Free electricity provided to irrigate the land and low labour cost were the two main features that had lured them,” Mohandas, president, Sheethakala Pachakari Karshaka Association, Kanthaloor, told Express. According to him, things are not that rosy now.
“The increase in the number of applications seeking free electricity had forced the government to slow down the procedures. I had applied for free power connection in 2002. But,it was sanctioned only in 2011,” he said. Even those who have managed to get the connection are fed up with the erratic power supply, he said. The labour charges have also gone northward recently and it is not easy to get workers, he said. However, some of the farmers shared a different opinion and said that farming in Tamil Nadu is still lucrative.
“Every year, farmers are crossing the border to try their luck in the fields,” said Binu Punnaya, president of the Karshaka Samrakshana Samithi in Idukki. He cited the glaring differences in the lease amount for the land as the propellant behind the exodus. “While the annual lease amount for 60 cents of land in Tamil Nadu stands between `5,000 and `10,000. The same area of land would cost about `1lakh in Kerala. Moreover crops like sunflower, plantain, grapes grow extensively in Tamil Nadu and we would get much support from the government, he said.