Chennai: In what would come as relief for thousands of farmers, the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to waive loans of not just small farmers but all who incurred losses during the drought in the state.
VR Kannan, a small farmer in Tamil Nadu's Trichy, suffered huge loss after his crop was destroyed last year due to unprecedented drought. The near ripe crop dried up after Karnataka's refusal to release Tamil Nadu's share of Cauvery waters as ordered by the Supreme Court.
Kannan was not eligible for state government's Rs 6,000 crore loan waiver, which was only for small farmers having land less than five acres. Kannan has seven acres of land. "I had to stop my children from going to school as I couldn't pay the fees. It is difficult to even manage our food," he said.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu have taken their fight to Delhi, carrying skulls of farmers who have committed suicide. The protest has been continuing for nearly a month now.
While the state government would pay off cooperative loans, they are demanding a total waiver of farm loans obtained from nationalised banks as well.
"Though this would benefit around 3 lakh farmers, our protest would go on till loans from nationalised banks are waived off", said petitioner Ayyakannu, who is the President of National-South Indian Rivers interlinking Agriculturists Association.
At least 17 farmers have committed suicide and nearly a hundred of them have died of shock over crop loss between November 2016 and January this year.
The Tamil Nadu government is yet to respond. The state asked for a grant of 40,000 crores but the centre has allotted just around Rs 4,000 crore. With the state's economy in a bad shape, the state sources indicate that they cannot afford to say no.