Tamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam organized a meeting of peasants near Pasuvandanai in Thoothukudi district of Tamilnadu in June. Peasants belonging to Jambulingapuram, Kudirai Kulam and Chillong Kulam villages took active part in this meeting. Besides, leaders and activists of Communist Ghadar Party, Workers Unity Movement and Unorganized Workers Federation also took part in this meeting. Meeting started by paying rich tributes to the passed away leaders and supporters of the Tamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam, viz. Karupa Samy, Ramasubbu Nayakar and Ramakrishnan Chettiar all belonging to Chillong Kulam, Muthaiyah Reddiar of Jambulingapuram and Com. George Gomes of Thoothukudi.
Thiru. Saravana Muthuvel, leader of the Thoothukudi district Tamizhaga Vivasayeegal Sangam welcomed the participants. He mentioned the serious issues faced by peasants of Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu is facing one of the worst droughts in the last 100 years. Most difficult conditions are being faced by the peasants and their livelihood is terribly impacted. In many areas they do not have water even for drinking purposes and some places their cattle are dying for want of fodder and water. Seeing their fields going dry and unable to protect the crop, many peasants have died of heart attack. Unable to bear the outstanding loans they have taken, some peasants have committed suicide. Farmers in some areas are shifting to cities in search of livelihood. Due to the globalization policies of the government, prices of important agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, implements, etc. have risen steeply. On the other hand, there is no guaranteed procurement of the agricultural outputs from farmers at remunerative prices. Taking advantage of market fluctuations, farmers are exploited by the big traders. Peasants are also forced to take loans at high interests from banks to meet the increasing expenses. But when the crop fails due to various environmental factors, peasants who took loans are trapped. Unable to bear the humiliation, many of them commit suicide.
Demonetization and tightening of currency operations, privatization of essential services such as education, health care etc. are impacting the poor peasants terribly. Saravana Muthuvel mentioned that due to drought conditions, peasants are unable to pay back their loans and demanded that government waive off all the agricultural loans. Instead of continuing the divide and rule policy of criminal Britishers and dilly dallying the issues, central government must immediately set up the Cauvery river water Management Board to resolve the water sharing issue to the benefit of farmers of both Tamilnadu and Karnataka.
Following that, farmers raised many of their issues and concerns in the meeting. They narrated the arrogant behavior of the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Credit Bank official of Pasuvandanai. This cooperative bank does not provide loans for the genuine peasants for farming. They also stated how the government without consulting the people of the villages, have shifted Kudirai Kulam, Nagampatti from the nearby Ottapidaram taluk to newly formed Kayathar taluk which is far away. This will cause problems for the peasants in reaching out to the authorities for their various needs. They also stated how the government authorities prevent farmers from taking the fertile sand from the dried up lakes and ponds for their fields. They also pointed out how the rich capitalists loot thousands of crores of Rupees worth minerals from the lands. Right in broad daylight river sand is taken out in large quantity destroying the environment. But poor farmers are denied the right over the top soil. For years together government has not accepted the lakhs of applications for free power connection for new pump sets. At the same time, people of Tamilnadu are given a false impression that all peasants are being provided with free power for agricultural purposes. This issue has to be brought to the attention of all people and we must fight this issue for the misinformation propaganda and for justice.
Quoting many incidents, those who participated in the meeting pointed out that the Right to Information Act (RTA) is a sham and authorities do not provide the requested information. They also pointed out that many of the schemes such as drought relief amount announced by the government supposedly for the benefit of farmers, have never reached all of them but siphoned off by authorities and political parties. Corruption rules at all levels and in all departments denying the rights of peasants.
Thiru. Ramasamy of Jambulingapuram asked the peasants to stand united and raise their voice and concerns. Thiru. Deivaraj, a leading activist of Sangam also spoke. Even to take out the fertile top soil from village lakes and ponds, he is made to run from pillar to post. Many of the government schemes remain only on paper. He stated how the higher government authorities are very corrupt and work openly for the benefit of the rich.
Com. Krishnamurthy, leader of Unorganized Workers Federation from Thoothukudi, emphasized the need for unity of peasants. We should take up the Cooperative Society issue and resolve it. He extended the support of Salt pan and fishing workers for the farmers and suggested that they should unite and agitate to the win their rights. His speech was a very good encouragement and received well by the peasants there.
Com. Baskar from Workers Unity Movement spoke and stressed that on the basis of militant unity of peasants, we can find solutions for our problems. We must strengthen our Peasants Union in order to fight. We have to form committees in each and every village. Wherever the local committees are united, strong and fight, they are able get their issues addressed. He also suggested them to bring out a small newsletter of your peasant organization, where you can reflect on your issues. This will help us to address our concerns to the authorities as well as to unite us. Government has been cutting down the subsidies to the Peasants. He explained, how the so called subsidy for fertilizers is actually paid to big industrial houses to ensure their high profits and not to the peasants.
He spoke about the urgent need for the government to provide all agricultural inputs at reasonable prices and ensuring all the agricultural outputs are purchased at remunerative prices. Taking the example of Toor Dal production and prices in Maharashtra and Karnataka, he explained the terrible condition peasants are pushed to by the policies of the governments. Peasants have suffered most due to the Demonetization and the banking system. That was not carried out in the interests of farmers, but to enhance the profits of the big banks and financial institutions. The electoral process does not permit peasants and workers to send their representatives to decision making bodies, which are in the hands of monopoly capitalists. Banks and monopoly traders actually deny the livelihood of the peasants. It is the same dark forces which deny the workers of their rights and wellbeing. Hence there is objective situation for the peasants to unite with the workers and fight to win their rights and livelihood from the capitalists, he said.
Com. Wilson from Communist Ghadar Party of India extended Ghadar party’s support to the just demands of the peasants. Besides fighting for their livelihood issues, only the political power in the hands of workers and peasants will solve these issues once and for all, he emphasized.
Besides stressing on their demands such as waiving off all agricultural loans, resolving the river water disputes, etc meeting has also passed the following resolutions :
Peasants must be allowed without any conditions and interference to make use of the fertile top soil from the ponds and lakes of the villages.
Government must immediately lift the ban and provide free power connections to all pending pump set applications for agricultural purposes.
Request the government authorities to immediately shift back Kudirai Kulam and Nagampatti villages to Ottapidaram taluk from the newly assigned Kayathar taluk.
Denounce the arrogant and callous response of the official Pasuvandanai Primary Agricultural Cooperative Credit Bank to the villagers.
Meeting ended with determination to unite the peasants and build a strong organization to defend their rights.