Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gaon-Shahar Samvad Panchayat, 9th June 2013, Ganga-Varuna Sangam Varanasi

Villages surrounding Varanasi have been for quite sometime now in the grip of land acquisition. The reasons are Sewage Treatment Plant, Transport Township, Dumping of Urban Waste, Cultural Township on the bank of the Ganga for tourists, Lotus Park for tourists near Sarnath, Water Treatment Plant, Residential Colonies, Ring Road, Ganga Express-way etc. At the site of every such intervention by the administration, farmers have taken to the path of struggle to resist being uprooted and the government has responded by police action. About 8 to 10 places are, as if, permanently in struggle. The Varanasi unit of  Bharatiya Kisan Union took out a solidarity yatra to all these places on 28th May and called a Panchayat on 9th June called Gaon-Shahar Samvad Panchayat. This day long Panchayat was held on the Ganga-Varuna Sangam to discuss the following-
  • There should be  a model of equal well being for both village and the city.
  • The excesses on farmers, artisans and small shopkeepers should be stopped immediately.
  • These segments of society should be consulted on the plans of urban development.

Krishna Kumar, activist of BKU small shopkeeper speaking
Shivprasad activist and lawyer speaking
About 75 strong panchayat had the participation of farmers from struggling villages, social and political activists, some urban intellectuals,  fishermen, weavers, Bharatiya Kisan Union leaders,and Vidya Ashram. Twenty persons (including 5 women) spoke. Most of them  spoke in the double context of  the farmers struggles around Varanasi and the farmers struggles all over the country. A reasonable spread of ideas and emotions came up, and many of which made the point that the sacrifice of villages and villagers ought not to be sought for urban development, which anyway takes no account of the interests of artisans and pavement earners and is engaged in building facilities of residence, trade, education, health and entertainment for those who have the money.  
Vidya Ashram sought a change in the focus of the debate. According to it, land acquisition and development should not be at the center of the debate. Land belongs to farmers and villages and the idea of land acquisition by outside authorities for any purpose whatsoever arises from an anti-village, anti-farmer ideological make-up. Any discussion on the conditions of land acquisition however powerfully argued by farmers leadership will always end up in a scenario in which farmers are the losers. The only debate that can serve farmers interests is one on equitable distribution of financial resources and that in particular a summary policy for jobs on the basis of what people already know and do, namely lokavidya, with remuneration equal to government employees. Similarly farmers and artisans need to focus on the question of well-being and not on development. Debating development shall always end up demanding sacrifices from them in the larger interests which never include their interests.

Dilip Kumar 'dili' Secretary BKU Varanasi Division speaking

It was stressed that this Gaon-Shahar Samvad is a new one. Bharatiya Kisan Union leaders Laxman Prasad and Dilip Kumar 'dili'  declared that this dialogue will be taken further both to the interior and to the metropolis and said that it is complementary to the struggles going on all over the country by farmers to protect their land and livelihood. May be it is through these dialogues that we will find ways for a political expression of lokavidya darshan. 

Vidya Ashram

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