CHENNAI: Even as the Tamil Nadu government authorities are working overtime to assess crop damage inflicted by the savage Ockhi cyclone in Kanniyakumari district, political leaders and activists have demanded crop loan waiver, liberal compensation based on production cost and hassle-free procedures for receiving representations and processing them.
Since the fiery cyclone has destroyed plantation crops, particularly rubber, in vast swathes of land in the district, the rubber-growers expect the government to bail them out with bigger packages like crop loan waiver.
“Almost every farmer has availed himself of crop loans to raise plantation crops. With the trees destroyed beyond redemption, the loss is huge. So, they are unable to mobilise funds to repay debts,” noted M Valsakumar, general secretary, Kanniyakumari District Estate Workers Union.
Forewarning the risks that the farmers may have to face if the bankers go tough on default of loan, he urged the State government to favourably consider waiver of crop loans.
“If the bankers act tough on default and resort to attaching properties, it will leave the farmers under tremendous stress. We appeal to the government to consider giving reprieve for the loanees,” he told Express.
Valsakumar, who has been closely working with estate workers for long, wanted the authorities to ease the procedures on distribution of relief and conduct special camps to receive petitions from the affected people.
“The affected people are not guided well in approaching the authorities to represent their grievances. There is confusion about whom to be approached for taking up issues of property loss. If special camps are held throughout the district, it will hugely help them save energy and time,” he noted.
T Mano Thangaraj, Padmanabhapuram MLA, has urged the authorities concerned to adopt liberal procedures while quantifying the damage to properties including houses and crops and subsequently compensate the loss.
Talking to Express, he said, “While assessing crop damage and determining the amount of compensation, the authorities should take into account the production cost.”
As a first step to mitigate the financial woes of the affected people, the government should provide a monthly subsistence allowance of `25,000 and due financial aid for clearing the uprooted trees. He stressed the need to declare Kanniyakumari district as disaster-hit and accordingly initiate relief and restoration measures so that the affected people could return to normal life.
Responding to the demand for conducting special camps, the Commissioner for Revenue Administration (CRA) and Relief Commissioner, K Satyagopal, told Express, “We will have to discuss the demand with the district administration to take a call on it.”
Promising a fair assessment of the damage, he said the Revenue department would be carrying out the survey in cooperation with the other departments concerned. “The affected farmers need not go anywhere for the Revenue department staff will reach out to them and assess the damage,” he stated.