Trade union militancy, unseasonal rain damage paddy crop

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Alappuzha, Mar 17 (UNI) Trade union militancy and unseasonal summer rain damaged more than 11,000 hectares of paddy crop in Kuttanad area, spread across Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, with latest estimates putting the losses at Rs five crore.

''It appears that the farmers of Kuttanad will have to drink more tears,'' a disgruntled grower said.

While the prospects of a good yield had spread cheer among the farmers earlier, the adamant attitude of the trade unions against mechanisation of harvesting had left the agriulcturists apprehensive.

Blaming the pro-CPI(M) Kerala Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU) for the situation, Alappuzha District Congress Committee President Abdul Shukkoor alleged that the union had gone back on its earlier stand to allow use of machines for harvesting.

About a week ago, a group of KSKTU workers allegedly manhandled an operator of a reaping machine at Kuttamperoor following which the operators refused to work the machines. The heavy rains that lashed the district in the following days spelt doom for the crop.

Nearly 11,000 hectares was still to be harvested and if the stalemate continued, the losses would mount, he said.

Earlier today, the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had staged a walkout from the state Assembly, in protest against the government's refusal to allow a debate on the destruction of paddy in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Palakkad districts.

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