N K Shukla
THE Bihar State Kisan Council of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) met at Patna on July 17 and 18, with AIKS president S Ramachandran Pillai and joint secretary N K Shukla attending the meeting on behalf of the AIKS centre.
While reporting the decisions of the Central Kisan Council (CKC), S R Pillai explained the present situation in the country and the growing crisis in agrarian sector, cuts in subsidies, forcible acquisition of land at many places, and the different pending legislations such as the Seeds Bill, Food Security Bill, Land Acquisition Bill, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, Biotech Authority Bill etc. He explained how the central government has reduced the allocations or made negligible allocations for different departments and projects related to agriculture or farmers. This year, only two per cent of the total budget allocation has been earmarked for the agriculture sector, on which depend more than 60 per cent of our people for their livelihood. There have been massive cuts in subsidies for fertilisers, rural development, PDS etc. There is no attempt to increase the agricultural production and productivity, nor any attempt to provide adequate irrigation and power facilities, cheap and appropriate technology, new and modern seeds. There is no attempt either to streamline the crop insurance scheme or provide credit facilities in time. Pillai stressed that all these factors have made agriculture an unviable venture, thus forcing a large number of farmers to give up agriculture. If continued, this will create a serious danger to our food security. Already the rate of increase in food production is running below the rate of increase of population.
Hikes in fuel prices are causing a rise in the prices of all the essential commodities.
Pillai also explained how the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), signed with the European Union and other countries, will destroy our dairy and other sectors. As for grains, their minimum support price (MSP) is not being decided according to the Swaminathan formula of C2+50 per cent. All this is forcing farmers to take recourse to suicide. Foreign direct investment is now being invited in multi brands, which would put the farmers at the mercy of the multinational corporations. Forcible land acquisitions are being resorted to in various parts of India for the sake of enabling the builders, corporates and multinationals to reap super-profits, without giving to the farmers any appropriate compensation, a share in future benefits, alternative employment, settlement or rehabilitation.
In the course of his presentation, Pillai recollected the decisions of the workshop held last year for cadre of the Hindi region and urged upon the Kisan Sabha cadre in Bihar to take up the fight head-on on the burning issues facing the peasantry. He also appealed to take up the work of organisational consolidation and expansion as to take the peasant movement forward in Bihar.
State Kisan Sabha general secretary Awadhesh Kumar presented his report, detailing the situation in the state and the tasks at hand. The report self-critically noted the decline in the membership and hopeless mobilisation for Delhi March. The reason given was the four months long process of panchayat elections. The meeting noted that it was a serious weakness and promised to overcome it and increase the membership this year.
The meeting, however, noted the positive fact that we won or did better wherever there was a substantial Kisan Sabha membership and where units and tehsil committees were functioning and active.
The main discussion centred on the present agrarian situation in Bihar and the tasks for the coming months, in the light of the situation prevailing in the state and the CKC decisions.
The discussion brought out that the whole of Magadh division is reeling under a serious drought; even drinking water is difficult to find in a major part of Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jahanabad and Arwal districts as well some adjoining districts of Munger division. Here farmers are forced to sell their cattle to slaughter houses due to lack of water and fodder.
It was noted that the districts dependent for irrigation on Son canal system (Bhojpur, Rohtas, Kaimur, Buxer and parts of Arwal, West Patna etc) have not been getting adequate water for the last three years. This year in particular, the situation has become very serious due to scanty rains. North Bihar too has not received adequate rain till now, though some areas are facing floods due to heavy rains in Nepal.
The council meeting noted the increasing number of evictions and the attacks on weaker sections after Nitish Kumar came to power.
Big discrepancies are seen in the new BPL, Antyodaya and APL lists, leaving large numbers of deserving people out and thus depriving them of subsidised ration and kerosene oil.
Maize is the main crop of the Kosi region as well as in Khagaria and Naugachia. But maize bags are rotting on the roads on a large scale, due to the lack of purchasing centres and due to a price crash.
Serious shortage of power is increasing the miseries of the farmers and other common people. The increased price of diesel has also made the irrigation by pumps a very costly affair.
Elements having links with the ruling party are using their personal interest the lands acquired for industrial development, thus creating tension in villages. This was seen in Forbesganj, where four people of the minority community, including a pregnant woman, were killed in police firing recently.
The Kisan Sabha units are intervening in the situation according to their strength. For example, they fought and thwarted the eviction drive in Bodhgaya and erected 150 new huts on government land for the dalits, minorities and landless.
The meeting decided to organise campaigns on the burning issues facing the peasantry in different districts. Militant and result oriented struggles are needed on the drinking water and fodder issues in the Magadh region, for supply of canal water in the Son region, for centres to purchase maize at the MSP in the Kosi, Khagaria and Naugachia regions, against the attempts at evictions in different districts, against large scale corruption in the MNREGA, against the bungling in the BPL and other lists, for housesites for dalits, mahadalits and landless, and for protection to the share-croppers etc.
After the campaign, demonstrations will be organised at all the district headquarters on August 25. Apart from the above mentioned issues, the questions of price rise and corruption will also be taken up.
A campaign will be conducted against the attempts which Ms Mamata government is making to reverse the land reforms in West Bengal, and also against the increasing attacks on AIKS and other Left cadres by the Trinamul-Maoist combine in the state.
On the organisational plane, , attempts will be made to organise workshops in all the major districts before the end of August in order to concretise the organisational and agitational tasks for the coming six months and one year.
Regarding the 75th anniversary of the foundation of AIKS, it was decided to organise programmes at the district and divisional levels in February 2012 and then a seminar at Patna in last week of April 2012. A committee has been formed to prepare a short history of the kisan movement in Bihar.Courtesy: People’s Democracy