TIRUCHY: A couple of months after staging a 41-day protest in New Delhi that attracted public attention to issues faced by the farming community in the country, another round of protests has been scheduled in the national capital. Demonstrators would be reiterating their six-point charter of demands, including seeking pensions for farmers who have crossed 60 years of age. Tamil Nadu farmers would also seek the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).
Around 150 farmers, led by P Ayyakannu, president of the Association for Interlinking National-South Indian Rivers, left Tiruchy by train via Chennai for New Delhi on Friday. They are carrying with them the good wishes of Good Samaritans, including a few from the film industry, who helped pay for their travel. The 150 farmers are mostly from the Cauvery delta districts, with a few from Ariyalur and Peramabalur.
Addressing reporters at Tiruchy Railway Junction, Ayyakannu said, “We suspended our protests at Jantar Mantar assuming our genuine demands would be addressed. However, profitable prices for agricultural produce and the waiver of crop loans obtained from nationalised banks are still a dream for the farming community.”
Meanwhile, crew members of the upcoming film, Thappattam, donated a sum of `25,000 each to the four families of farmers who reportedly committed suicide due to crop failure in the ongoing drought. Families of the deceased farmers, identified as Augustine of Pudukkottai, Mutharasan of Manapparai, Radhakrishnan of Thuraiyur, and Palanisamy of Lalgudi, were handed over cheeues of `25,000 each by actor Durai Sudhakar. The film crew further assured they would continue to help the families with funds from the box office collection of the movie.
“Even as governments have failed to financially support families of all farmers who succumbed due to the impact of drought in the past few months, charitable persons are aiding us. More such donations should reach the needy families of farmers,” Ayyakannu said.
It may be recalled that there was a wave of protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in March and April, seeking waivers of crop loans. Tamil Nadu farmers, led by Ayyakannu, were part of the agitation, and even stripped to get the Union government’s attention.