Andhra: Lokshakti Abhiyan on farmer suicides, looting of natural resources in the KG basin

January 18, 2012

Lokshakti Abhiyan Second Phase Begins from Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad, January 10 : Lokshakti Abhiyan’s second phase of meetings and mass contact programme began from Hyderabad yesterday with the members of movements associated with NAPM from states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Orissa and members of India Against other from Hyderabad.

After a brief press meeting at NAPM Hyderabad office the Abhiyan moved to Gadvel mandal villages of Medak district to interact with families of farmers who have committed suicides. It was heartrending for us to listen to the cries of the young widows whose husbands committed suicide for debts of one, two or in some cases five to ten lakhs of rupees. Each one of them had the same story of crop failure, cotton and corn. Killer hybrid corns and cottons are home delivered to them by the nexus of the seed distributors and seed companies who have made farmers completely dependent on them after taking over their indigenous seeds.

Medha Patkar, addressing a public meeting at Sirigiripalli village, Medak district said that, it is not the crop failure but the failure of agricultural policies and indicator of deep agrarian crisis which is leading to the suicides among the farmers of India. In the past 16 years (1995-2010), 256,913 farmers have committed suicide across India as per the government statistics from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In 2010, there were 15,964 farmer suicides and the state-wise distribution shows that Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh stand out with 3141, 2585 and 2525, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Kerala. In 2011, has continued. In A.P., newspaper reports showed 95 suicides in 1 month in just 6 districts – Mahbubnagar, Anantpur, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Medak, Khammam.

It was also extremely unfortunate that the local administration has completely failed to respond to these tragedies in farmers families and a small survey suggested that out of 1096 suicides only 323 families have revived an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh and 50 thousand rupees for debt repayment. It’s shameful and shows insensitivity of the governance. Abhiyan urged the local Panchayat and Gram Sabhas to take the lead and collect money to provide immediate relief to such families and then pressurise the local government to provide relief to the affected family. But more important farmers have to shift to organic farming and get back to the traditional farming over few years otherwise this nexus of seed corporations and private lenders will continue to kill them.

On January 10, the Abhiyan reached Roundhead station and received a early morning welcome from Kakinada Anti SEZ movement there, and later moved on to Amalapuram town, one of the richest regions of the Andhra Pradesh. Abhiyan visited a number of villages in East Godavari district where the livelihoods of thousands of farmers are being destroyed due to the salt water ingress and sinking of the Godavari Delta in East and West Godavari Districts due to the rampant, extraction of Oil and Natural Gas, which is enriching large corporations like Reliance, while destroying the lives of the farmers, fisherfolk, salt workers and artisans.

Prafulla Samantara, National Convener NAPM said that Reliance is looting the rich natural resources of the KG basin which has the most fertile land and is the rice bowl of the AP. It is extremely unfortunate that even after gross violations found in the CAG report submitted in September 2011 no action has been taken against Reliance. In its interim report as well that CAG had said that Reliance is not cooperating with the audit process and there are large scale economic and environmental violations, then what is preventing the Government of AP and India to take action against the company. Like Orissa where POSCO, Vedanta, Jindal and others are looting these companies are completely uprooting the civilisations and destroying the livelihoods.

P Chenniah, National Convener NAPM, said that farmers fight will now have to join hands with the farm workers, tenant farmers and even the academics and intellectuals then only our struggle will succeed against these corporations. We have to fight not only against corruption in governance but against these corporations who are corrupting everything and destroying our livelihoods and civilisations.

Abhiyan lent solidarity to the struggling farmers who hosted meetings at Enkotapalli and Gollavilli in Uppalaguptam Mandal and vowed to carry forward the struggle against companies like Reliance at different places. Abhiyan proceed to town of Narsapur where at YN College Sarvodaya Rythu Sangam hosted a seminar on protection of Krishna – Godavari Delta area.

More we travel around the countryside and devstation Abhiyan witnesses our resolve to fight against the multinational corporations and their naked loot of our natural resources gets strengthened. Our sturggles have to collectively push for establishing communities control over natural resources and that is the only way to save our future.

Ramakrsihna Raju, Sarasvathy Kavula, Madhuresh Kumar
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