Thanjavur: Lok Sabha MP from Thanjavur and former Union minister S.S. Palanimanickam has appealed to the Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to extend the moratorium on loans given to coconut farmers affected by Gaja cyclone in Thanjavur district last year for an additional two years.
In a letter sent to the Finance minister, a copy of which was released to the press here on Saturday, Palanimanickam said that similar extension should also be given to loans availed by women Self Help Groups and children of coconut farmers who have got education loans.
This is necessary as the situation is still grave and it would take four to five years for new seedlings to give yield, the DMK MP said.
Tracing the devastation struck by Gaja cyclone which hit Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Pudukottai districts on November 15, 2018, Palanimanickam said that 45 persons were killed, 60 lakh coconut trees were uprooted, one crore other trees like Neem, Mango, jackfruit and banyan trees were also uprooted.
"Farmers are yet to recover from the trail of destruction caused by Gaja cyclone. Loss and displacement has left the farmers in distraught. The cyclone has crippled agriculture and farming activity in a fertile region," Palanimanickam said.
and recalled the visit of Nirmala Sitharaman as Defence minister to 'Gaja' affected Peravurani and Pattukottai areas then. "You are well aware of the adverse conditions brought about by cyclone" he said.
Appealing to her personally to visit the area again as Finance minister now, Palanimanickam asked her to advise lead banks to give fresh loans to coconut and other farming activities with minimum interest and to extend the schedule for repayment to four years.
These measures will go a long way in alleviating the distress of farmers, many of whom have invested in coconut trees and livestock, but have now become paupers, Palanimanickam added.