The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday declared the entire state as ‘drought-hit’. The state government intends to seek special aid from the central government to tide over the crisis prevailing in the state, due to the failure of the monsoon this year.
Chief minister, O Panneerselvam said in a statement that tax will be waived for all the farm lands across the state. The families of 17 farmers, who committed suicide due to the prevailing drought and crop failures, will be offered Rs 3 lakh each, he said.
The state receives rains through both south west monsoon and north east monsoon. While south west monsoon brings rains to southern and western districts of Tamil Nadu, it is the northeast monsoon that remains the mainstay for rains across the state. While the southeast monsoon had around 20 per cent deficiency this year, the failure of the northeast monsoon, with over 60 per cent deficiency, aggravated the water scarcity in the state. As a result, both sambha and kuruvai crops were affected, landing the farmers, who had borrowed for raising their crops, in deep trouble.
The state government’s earlier attempts to get Karnataka to release ample water in Cauvery for irrigation by approaching the Supreme Court had largely come a cropper, with the Karnataka government refusing to implement the apex court’s orders in full, citing a deficient monsoon and low water levels in its own reservoirs.
While the Tamil Nadu chief minister has acknowledged the death of 17 farmers, who had ended their life unable to repay the loan, over 100 farmers had died across districts as a result of shock due to failed crops. A majority of deaths have been reported from the Cauvery delta, especially Nagapattinam district, which forms the tail-end of the Cauvery river water irrigation basin.
CM Panneerselvam on Tuesday announced that the state government will increase the guaranteed rural employment programme this year to 150 days, from 100 days, to offer relief to farmers by expanding the source of employment. The government will take up desilting of ponds and lakes across the state to the tune of around Rs 3,400 crore so as to create rural job opportunities.
The opposition parties, which have been pressuring the state government to declare Tamil Nadu as drought hit, welcome the announcement. However, with the government not committing itself on waiving the farm loans, they urged the government to waive off all farm loans and mitigate the farmers’ struggle.