The Indian farmers are facingunprecedentedproblems in India- an agrarianrepublic in which farmers serve as lifeline. However, the nation that sees itself as a future superpower cares a damn about the issues pertaining to the farmers. They have been left at the mercy of God. Reeling under unspeakable problems, they are battling against all odds for survival. Consider the way, the government fixes low prices for their produces in times when farming has become an extremely costly affair in states like UP and Bihar, marred by severe water crisis and erratic power supply. Worse, the prices of fertilizers keep touching new heights. If that’s not enough, thegovernment is also not much interested in having upgraded granaries, leading to tonnes of food grain to go down the drain. “Also, as per the court commissioners’ report, the wasted grain figures were around 1, 30,000 million tonnes, more than twice the government’s own estimates. The court’s commissioners said the negligence by officials was ‘genocidal’ and recommended that responsibility and accountability ought to be fixed at the highest level in central and state governments.”(The Economic Times)
Anyway, I have something more tragic to offer. It relates with land grabbing done in organized way by the MNCs. The poor farmers are unable to offer strong resistance because these MNCs enjoy the support of government and, above all, they have great resources to suppress opposition of any type. Something similar happened in this case as well.Welspun Energy Ltd. allegedly grabbed huge land, being in tandem with land mafias disguised as land brokers, for establishing a1320 MW Thermal Power Plant atDadri- Khurdvillage situated in Mirzapur District in Uttar Pradesh. In this connection, I met with social activist Rajendra Mishra, a senior scribe associated with Kaashivarta, representing the cause of these harassed farmers, forciblydeprived of their source of livelihood. He along with other prominent social activists of Mirzapur/Varanasi region including Pradeep Kumar Shukla, has left no stone unturned in ensuring justice to thedispossessedfarmers. In fact, they played a great role in agitations related withGanga Expresswayprojectleading to Allahabad High Court order, which stayed the project, ordering state to have “complete a full environmental study and obtain permission from the central government before embarking on the construction.”
Rajendra Mishra made some startling revelations in connection with land allotment done for this power project. He stated that land mafias operating as landbrokerscompelledthe farmers to sell lands to them at throwaway prices, which were later sold to the Welspun Energy Ltd.at a higher price. If that was not enough, the extra lands needed were acquired at gun point. In some cases, the fake cases got filed against farmers to get hold of their lands. It’s real shame that so much happened but districtadministrationpreferred to be a mute spectator. In fact, itfacilitated the sale by refusing tointervene.
Incidentally, itenteredin cosmetic gesture oforganizinga public hearing to obtain public testimony and register the objections in this regard. However, it became one-sided show. The socialactivists, represented by Rajendra Mishra, andaggrievedfarmers were prevented by the goonsallegedlydeployed atstrategicpoints by the land brokers. They threatened and stopped them when they were on the way to attend the public hearing organized on April 07, 2012. Some of the farmers who managed to attend the public hearing were asked to keep their mouths shut by the anti-social elements present there. The social activists are also worried that if the power plant gets established it would lead toenvironmental imbalance of very serious nature in that region.
In fact,Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Division, Ministry ofEnvironmentand Forests, has been apprised of irregularities associated with the project. The social activists allege that project has entered in gross violation of provisions laid down in theEIA notificationissued by the Ministry Of Environment And Forests on September 14, 2006. It makes “prior environmental clearance from the concerned regulatory authority” mandatory. Above all, the gestures of districtadministration is serious violation of human rights as farmers were not only denied the right to express their concerns but also threatened of direconsequencesif they dared to pursue their case. The districtadministrationmight claim that it organized a public hearing but insiders claim that it was mere superficial gestures. For instance, no special effort was made to make concerned people living in the remote areas aware of such hearing. Thus, they were deprived of their right to register protest. Anyway, those who somehow managed to attend it were forced to remaintight-lipped.
It’s really tragic that farmers are being meted out such treatment. They are being denied to live life of dignity and are made to starve. After all, what else’s could be the fate when their lands-the source oflivelihood- fall into wrong hands? Hats off to social activists like Rajendra Mishra, Pradeep Kumar Shukla, Ramagya Singh (farmer), Ramashankar Singh (Advocate) and others who have dared to challenge theadministrationin this regard. I am sure they would emerge as winner-the way they came to block the Ganga Expresswayproject byorganizing huge protest rallies. It’s in the interest of justice that farmers emerge as winners. The lifeline of the nation should not succumb to negative forces. It’s time to punish those who not only snatched the land of farmers but also violated provisions aimed at protection of environment.
The Economic Times
Welspun Enegrgy Ltd.
Ganga Expressway Project
1320 MW Thermal Power Plant atDadri- Khurd
Map Of The Site