Farmers in Struggle

Farmers demonstrate to demands stoppage of leakage of irrigation water

On 31st December 2018, the peasants of Nohar and Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan organised a protest demonstration at the sub-area office under the leadership of Kisan Vyaapari Sangharsh Samiti.

Peasants from Badbirana, Soti, Ramgarh, Parlika, Dhani, Araaiyaan, Nethrana, and other villages gathered at Bhagat Singh square and marched to the sub-divisional office, where it became a public meeting.

Addressing the gathering, the peasant leaders stated that the administration has failed in stopping the theft of water. They warned the administration of intensifying the struggle. The representatives of peasants said that the administration is fully aware which peasants are stealing water. Now while the agitation is on the administration of making a show that it is acting against the theft of water. Concrete action is not sustained. The peasants said that the size of the Mogho is much larger than the standard in several places. This leads to unequal distribution of water to different fields. But the Irrigation department does not take action because of political pressure.

After the public meeting, the peasants met and discussed this issue with SDM Saiyed Shiraj Alai Jaidi. He promised them that the problems will be sorted out soon. The committee handed over a letter to the Chief Minister highlighting three key demands, which include allowing water to be distributed through Amar Singh branch for 15 days under monitoring, repairing the size of mogho, and stopping the theft of water.

All India Council member and vice president of Lok Raj Sangathan Hanuman Prasad Sharma, President of Mazdoor Vyaapari Sangharsh Samiti Madan Beniwal, former sarpanch Om Sahu and Lakshminarayan Beniwal, Kaluram Bairad, Juglal Khati, Hetram Beniwal, Shiv kumar Sihag, Sikandar Araai, Munshiram Jatt, Kumbharam Netrana, Asharam Verma, Ramkaran Sahu, Bhagatram Khachvana, etc were present in the demonstration and public meeting.

Farmers cheated out of insurance

Farmers of Balangir district, Odisha are preparing to stage a demonstration before the collectorate 12th-16th January against the private insurance companies that cover insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Farmers of around 50 panchayats were deprived of crop insurance.

One of the private insurance companies had violated guidelines in collusion with the Revenue Inspector, village level workers and other district officials and duped the farmers of their insurance money by fabricating reports on crop loss. The figures of the paddy yield were manipulated from 4.32 quintal to 29.30 quintal resulting in farmers’ failure to claim insurance. 

There was further evidence that private companies like ICICI Lombard and IFFCO Tokyo which had insured their crops under Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) have yet to pay compensation amount for the year 2011-12 Kharif season.  

Farmers of Orissa’s Balangir district are among thousands of farmers across the country from Rajasthan to Orissa and from Punjab to Tamilnadu. who are being cheated by the insurance companies in connivance with officials. Just as in the case of every programme that is projected as pro-poor and pro-people, the PMFBY is one thing on paper and its opposite on the ground. The stated purpose is to provide protection to farmers from crop losses due to various factors. But on the ground, the government is paying premiums for insurance companies to make huge profits, while farmers’ wait in vain for compensation for crop losses under the scheme.

Farmers’ protest against Salem Chennai Expressway

Farmers had been opposing the green corridor Salem Chennai Expressway, a 200 km eight-lane expressway project of the Tamilnadu government. Once again, about 500 farmers protested across the state on Sunday 6th January. Farmers have been protesting in Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai and Kancheepuram districts. They have also appealed to the Madras High Court.

“The aim of this protest is to make the government drop this project, a protesting farmer in Thiruvannamalai said. The protesting farmers point out that the government has acquired more land than what was allocated earlier for the project.

Earlier, in July 2018, hundreds of farmers had protested against the proposed highway citing fear of loss of land and livelihood. They had also raised concerns that the construction of the proposed green corridor project will hurt the sensitive environment in the region. In that instance, several protestors had been arrested before being released on conditional bail. However, this did not diminish their spirit, and they swore not to give up the fight till the project is dropped.

The Chennai Salem green corridor expressway project is aimed for better connectivity between Chennai and Salem, cutting down the travel time to just three hours. However, the road is likely to cut through 1000s of acres of farmland, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes and over 150 villages. The court has advised both the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government not to forcibly acquire lands.