Nearly nine months after Cyclone Gaja wreaked havoc upon the coastal and delta districts of Tamil Nadu, a Lok Sabha MP from the state has written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking relief for debt-ridden farmers. Thanjavur MP SS Palanimanickam of the DMK sought an extension in moratorium for farmers from one year to two years in order to lengthen the waiting period before which farmers can begin repayment on their loans. In the letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the MP also requested that the moratorium be extended to self-help groups and educational loans in the region.
The devastating cyclone that struck last year uprooted hundreds of acres of agricultural crops, a significant number of which were coconut plantations. ‚ÄúThe Hon'ble Finance Minister may also advise Lead Banks to give fresh loans to coconut and for other farming activities, with minimum interest and to extend the schedule for repayment to four years. As you are aware, unlike other crops, bringing coconut plantation back to life takes years. Similarly, the new loans may be extended to Self Help Groups and Educational Loans for students to help the stricken farmer's families,‚ÄĚ the DMK MP wrote.
MP Palanimanickam also noted that the farmers in the district were badly affected since 60 lakh coconut trees were uprooted along with more than 1 crore trees like neem, mango, jackfruit, banyan, etc. ‚ÄúThe farmers are yet to recover from the trail of destruction caused by Gaja. Loss and displacement have left the farmers distraught. The cyclone has crippled agriculture and farming activities in a fertile region,‚ÄĚ he said, calling upon the Minister to visit the areas once again. As Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman had visited Thanjavur and Nagapattinam shortly after the cyclone hit.
Thanjavur was among the worst-hit districts in the state along with Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Pudhukkottai, Ramanathapuram, Cuddalore, Dindigul, Sivagangai, Karur and Trichy. The severe cyclonic storm made landfall near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district in the wee hours of November 16 last year. After striking the coast, it moved to interior Tamil Nadu where it caused extensive damage to crops and property and cut off power, telecommunication and road connectivity to the districts. Over 50 people lost their lives and more than three lakh people were displaced from their homes.