Tamil Nadu farmers during their protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday.

New Delhi:  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami will meet farmers from the state protesting at Jantar Mantar today for the first time,, according to official sources. It is learnt the chief minister will advise the farmers to call off their protest when he meets them at 7.30 am.Mr Palaniswami, who arrived in the national capital this evening, will also take part in a NITI Aayog meeting along with chief ministers of other states. It is expected that Mr Palaniswami will be meeting the farmers just before heading to Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

The protesting farmers have been demanding a Rs 40,000 crore drought relief package, farm loan waiver and setting up of the Cauvery Management Board by the Centre. Over the last 39 days, they have shaved their heads, halved their moustaches and kept mice and snakes in their mouths, conducted mock funerals, flogged themselves and even carried skulls of other farmers who had committed suicide due to debt pressure. 

Earlier this month, dozens of protestors blocked all six lanes of Chennai’s arterial Kathipaara flyover by tying an iron chain to the poles on either side to express solidarity with the farmers protesting in Delhi. 

The Madras High Court, too, had directed state government to expand its farm loan waiver scheme to include farmers who own land over five acres. However, there is no relief for those who have borrowed from nationalised banks. The state had sought Rs 40,000 crore from the Centre, which sanctioned only Rs 4,000 crore.

With 60 per cent deficit in rainfall, Tamil Nadu witnessed its worst drought in 140 years. 

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