Farmers across Tamil Nadu heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday after the Madras high court took cognizance of their 23-day protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and ordered the government to waive of all agricultural loans, benefitting close to 20 lakh farmers in the state.
The Madurai bench of the Madras high court, comprising Justice S Nagamuthu and MV Muralidharan, ordered the Tamil Nadu government to waive of farm loans taken by farmers from cooperative societies and stop recovery proceedings against defaulters.
Initially, the state government had waived the cooperative bank loans of small farmers, who owned less than 5 acres of land. The HC order extends benefits to all farmers in the state, who may own more than 5 acres of land.
The farmers erupted in cheers and even tried carrying their leader, P Ayyakannu, on their shoulders.
“There are around 20 lakh farmers who had loans from such banks. 16 lakh had already benefitted under the scheme by the state government. The new order will benefit the other 4 lakh farmers too, who had also lost their crops in the drought,” said P Ayyakannu, the state president of the National South-Indian Rivers Linking Farmers’ Association.
However, the farmers feel this is a small victory. “Our loans from nationalised banks still remain. We will continue to fight and protest, until our demands are met,” said Ayyakannu.
They have vowed to continue the protest, until the Centre waived their loans from nationalised banks, revises drought relief packages, provides solutions to water scarcity, and helps fix produce prices. They have also asked that a Cauvery Management Board be instituted, and national rivers interlinked to help with the alleged drying up of the Tamil Nadu leg of the Cauvery river.