Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LJA and Farmers' Struggle in MP

On 5th May 2012 there was a major clash between the farmers of Anuppur and the police in Madhya Pradesh. A large number of farmers are still in prison on a variety of charges. The farmers were protesting against the high handedness and total injustice meted out to them in acquiring their lands for the power plant being built by Moser Baer (first phase 1200 MW). Lands have been taken away at a compensation rate of Rs. 65,000/- for one acre. More than a year of protest under the shifting leadership of political parties brought no relief and now the struggle has been launched in the leadership of Bharatiya Kisan Union. Dilip Kumar from Varanasi made a trip last week to Jaithari, the site of the plant some 15 kms from the district center at Anuppur. He went around the region meeting farmers and BKU activists. There  is extreme resentment and anger against the company and the administration. It is the same story of completely false promises and no relief. Now BKU has given a call for a Kisan Maha-panchayat on 30th May 2012 at Jaithari. The entire region is in the grip of these huge coal based power projects- Anuppur, Umaria, Shahdol, Singrauli, and the adjoining districts of Chhattisgarh. The leadership of BKU may show some path to the farmers and adivasis of the region to face up to this assault.

A number of workers of Lokavidya Jan Andolan work with farmers organizations and also specifically with BKU. A group of us is planning to be in Jaithari on 30th May. There is our MP LJA Convention at Singrauli on 9-10 August 2012. On 27th May there is a preparatory meeting in Singrauli and on 29th May a preparatory meeting in Jabalpur. Those who can join these meetings can come with us to Jaithari, Anuppur for the farmers' maha-panchayat.

It is our understanding that farmers' and adivasis' interests can be understood and attended to, if we take to a lokavidya point of view, that is, their knowledge point of view. The farmers' struggle at Jaithari may have a great bearing on the struggle and organization of the people of that region who are so badly affected, literally uprooted, by these massive power plant bull-dozings. Lokavidya Jan Andolan needs to stand with these people and work with them to find a way. Our Singrauli convention and preparation of the same needs to develop organic links with these processes in this region.

This is to request you to think about this and send your suggestions, which can be considered in the preparatory meetings in Singrauli and Jabalpur. on 27th and 29th of this month.

LJA Secretariat
Vidya Ashram


  1. "Lands have been taken away at a compensation rate of Rs. 65,000/- for one acre." "Taken Away" (!) what does it mean? Does it mean that the lands were forcibly grabbed from the farmers and the money was thrown at their faces !

    If so, the courts can be directly approached and surely stay on the proceedings can be obtained.May be that the Supreme Court can be directly approached for suitable directions.

    Some two weeks ago Supreme Court gave a verdict stating that the lands should be procured at the market price & not at the Government fixed rates.

    I mean I would like to think that we still do not have in place legalized goonda raj!

    Sure, there must have been some negotiations between the buyers & the farmers representatives/ Gram panchayat/ Gram Sabha etc; and there would have been a kind of willingness on the part of the farmers to do away with their lands.

    A dishonest deal is possible, but then the process of negotiations should not have been handed over to such people that are known to be dishonest.

    For me bigger question is: whether an agricultural land can be treated as a disposable commodity (?), irrespective of the type of agriculture being practised. If yes, then how to estimate its value? What is the appropriateness of 'market rate' vis-a-vis an agricultural land?

    For example, one can price a mango plucked from a mango tree, but how does one price the tree by itself? How does one price 'Coal'? One can add costs of the machines / labour etc used, but how does one price coal!! In short, how does one price a natural resource; for maximizing profitability (!) because one has the power to capture all natural resources!!

    For all the 'engineering & technological marvels' created by MAN, agriculture remains yet the most productive & most efficient proposition in terms of energy consumption. All the 'marvels' are essentially highly inefficient in terms of consumption of energy. Therefore how can an agricultural land be dispensed with for erecting an 'engineering & technological marvel'?

    In my opinion LJA need to question the very edifice of modern economies through these struggles & definitely raise the debate on inapplicability of 'market rate' concept to agricultural lands and/ or any other natural resource.

    For me it is an ideological question: to sell or not to sell the agricultural land.

    If 'sell': then one becomes a part of market dynamics where the mightier will consume the weaker; if 'NO': then real dynamics for change starts envisaging struggles and sacrifices for the period of time unknown.