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Farmers want an impetus to make agriculture rewarding

But for a handful of industries, this region does not have many avenues for employment

Agriculture, the primary occupation of the people of Melur Assembly constituency in Madurai district, has suffered in recent times. Not only are people looking at other avenues, some have moved to cities in search of better prospects.

Former Agriculture Minister P. Kakkan was from Melur taluk. “Though there were good rains last year, it did not come to the aid of farmers. The yield in sugarcane, which is one of the predominant crops of the region, was low,” says the State president of Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers Association N. Palanisamy. Farmers had to sell their produce for low profits. Delay in payments from the National Cooperative Sugar Mills added to the misery of farmers, he says.

Use of latest technology to improve paddy productivity has not been explored here, says president of Periyar Single Crop Association M. Murugan. Moreover, since water from the Periyar Main Canal does not reach the tail-end areas, many agricultural lands have turned fallow. Waterbodies must also be rejuvenated to improve water storage, says Mr. Palanisamy.

But for a handful of big industries, Melur region does not have many avenues for employment.

Given that Melur is an agriculture-based region, agro-food and processing units could be set up, says an academician. Vocational training and skill-based training centres should be established here. Government schools and college in the region need better infrastructure to arrest dropout rate, he says.

Melavalavu massacre

Melavalavu near Melur witnessed the massacre of six members of a Scheduled Caste by Caste Hindus in 1997. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, last year, expressed pain over media reports on a group of Scheduled Caste people in Melur who carried a dead body through an agricultural field due to lack of pathway to the burial ground. “We have to hang our heads in shame,” the court said and directed the authorities to immediately look into the issue and to address the grievance.

Arittapatti, a place of historical and ecological significance, is located in Melur constituency. Tamil Brahmi stone inscriptions, Jain vestiges, natural waterbodies and a rock-cut temple are important spots in the area. The residents say Arittapatti is rich in biodiversity and should be protected.

As for Melur town, narrow roads lead to traffic snarls. The Melur daily market is also in a dilapidated condition for many years and it needs an immediate repairs, says B. Stalin, a resident.

R. Samy, a close aide of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran was a three time MLA from Melur constituency. He won as an AIADMK candidate in 2001, 2006 and 2011 Assembly elections and was part of the AMMK when the party was launched in 2018, in Melur. He died the same year after a long battle with cancer.

While the farmers say their grievances were not looked into, sitting MLA Periyapullan alias P. Selvam of the AIADMK says he will address issues raised by the farmers.

The AIADMK has won the seat in the past four elections. It has fielded the incumbent while the Congress, an ally of the DMK, has fielded T. Ravichandran. K. Kathiresan of Makkal Needhi Maiam, P. Karuppusamy of Naam Tamilar Katchi and A. Selvaraj of AMMK are also in the fray.

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