It’s been eight days since 84 farmers from Tamil Nadu, dressed in loin cloths and dhotis, began their protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Reeling from the worst drought in Tamil Nadu in 140 years, the farmers arrived in the capital on March 13 seeking an immediate release of funds for their crop losses.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met the protesting farmers, and promised to consult officials on their demands before taking a decision.
Speaking to The News Minute, Premkumar from Desiya Thenindiya Nadhineer Inaippu Vyavasaigal Sangam, said, “Few of the Tamil Nadu MPs took us to meet Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He has promised us that he will talk to the officials, who are related to this issue and give us a response in two days.”
One of their key demands is for the Centre to declare Tamil Nadu a drought-hit state. Besides this, Premkumar says they want the government to provide immediate relief to the farmers, waive off their debts and also ensure the interlinking of rivers in the country.
The protest, he says, will go on until the Centre meets their demands.
The farmers hail mainly from the delta region of Trichy, Karur and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
Soon after their arrival in Delhi on March 23, the protesters took to the streets wearing loin cloths and carrying skulls of dead farmers. It was a desperate attempt to grab the Centre’s attention to their plight.
Over 400 farmers have reportedly died, many killing themselves, some others dying out of shock following crop losses.
In January, the National Human Rights Council had issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government, regarding the farmer deaths in the state.
A month later, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, sanctioned the release of a Rs 2,247 crore package for drought-hit farmers. According to media reports, farmers who depend on irrigation for their crop were to get Rs 5,465 per acre, while those who depend on seasonal rain would get Rs 3,000 per acre.
"The state has given us Rs 3000 each. How is that enough to make up for the losses we have faced? We have mortgaged all our jewellery. We have nothing but our lives left," Iyyakannu, the Tamil Nadu chief of the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam told TNM earlier.