NAGAPATTINAM: Farmers dependent on ground water have appealed to the State government to not accept the conditions laid down by the Union government to raise borrowing threshold.
About 27,730 farmers are availing free power in the district and cultivating kuruvai and thaladi paddy on 35,000 hectares using groundwater. They would be affected if the free electricity scheme is revoked. “We will be at the mercy of Cauvery water, Karnataka and CWMA again. We will lose entire cultivation if Cauvery water comes late. We would not be able to produce of over two lakh metric tonnes of paddy from Kuruvai and Thaladi which we had been doing all these years using groundwater. We request the State government to not agree to Centre’s condition,” said R Rajasekar of Therazhanthur in Mayiladuthurai block.
TheCentre has directed States to switch to Direct Beneficiary Transfer (DBT) rather than providing electricity for free. “We never know if the money would be credited on time. Also, there is no guarantee that we would get sufficient credit. If there are insufficient funds for the electricity bill, we would have to spend from our pocket,“ said S Varatharajan, a farmer in Agaravattaram.
Farmers in Mayiladuthurai, Kuthalam, Sirkazhi, Sembanarkoil, Kollidam and Thirumarugal blocks are dependent on groundwater and free electricity for kuruvai cultivation. These six blocks are classified as Cauvery belt, but the farmers can cultivate crops using groundwater. They do not wait until Mettur dam opens to cultivate. They start Kuruvai (Kharif) in late April or early May so that they can harvest in August, sell their paddy for procurement in September and start Thaladi cultivation (Rabi) in October.
Other blocks such as Nagapattinam, KIlvelur, Keezhaiyur, Thalaignayiru and Vedaranyam are classified as Vennaru belt. The groundwater is saline and farmers are dependent on river irrigation.Hundreds of acres of sugarcane also face the danger of getting affected.
A TNEB official said, “We had already been fixing electricity meters in fields of farmers who wish to avail free electricity under Tatkal scheme. The power usage can be thus measured if we are directed”.
The farmers had never bothered about the installation of electricity meters as they believed they would never be charged for the power they are using for agriculture. But, the tables could turn if the State government starts charging farmers.