People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 17, 2007
JOINT AIKS-AIAWU-CITU ALL INDIA CONVENTION IN AUGUST
AIKS Calls For Intensive Struggles And Widening Of Movement
The Central Kisan Committee (CKC) of the All India Kisan Sabha met in New Delhi on June 9-10, 2007. It has issued the following statement:
THE central kisan committee of the All India Kisan Sabha met in New Delhi on June 9–10, 2007. The meeting was presided over by S Ramachandran Pillai and attended by more than 50 members from various states. It discussed the serious agrarian crisis facing the nation and the wrong policies of the UPA government which has further worsened the situation.
Though the UPA government and the prime minister talk about the agrarian crisis day in and day out, their policies are further worsening the crisis. The prime minister and the minister for agriculture are talking about the productivity increase in agriculture without bothering about the problems faced by the peasantry, especially the small and marginal peasants. The grim situation in rural India which has led to thousands of suicides and hunger deaths is mainly because of the following reasons: (i) the peasants are not getting remunerative prices for their products; (ii) the cost of inputs are increasing several folds and (iii) there is no proper mechanism for institutional credit for farmers, especially the small and marginal ones, forcing them to be at the mercy of the private money-lenders.
Because of the above issues, in the last ten years, on an average each year 33 lakh farmers have been forced to sell off their lands and join the growing mass of the rural landless. According to the latest survey, more than 50 per cent of the small and marginal farmers are not interested in continuing agriculture. The LPG policies followed by earlier BJP-led NDA government are being continued by the UPA government also, which go totally against the assurances given by this government in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP).
The impact of liberalisation policies on farmers and agriculture is best illustrated by the experience in wheat policy in the last two years. Last year the UPA government allowed the big private traders, both national and multi-national, to enter the wheat market. The government of India has procured less than 50 per cent of the usual procurement. The private traders instead of bringing the wheat to the market have gone for largescale hoarding. This has increased the price of wheat in the market. Instead of taking action against the private traders, the government of India has gone for a largescale import of wheat from Australia and other countries. The price of wheat imported was around Rs 1200 per quintal whereas the minimum support price given to Indian farmers was just Rs 800 per quintal. The same policy is being repeated this year also and recently the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has announced that they are going for largescale import to create a buffer stock to meet the demand for public distribution system and the market. This shows that the government is not interested in strengthening the procurement and PDS which will help the poorest of poor in the country but is very much interested to help the multi-national companies and local big traders.
This will lead to shortage of foodgrains in the coming years and India will become the biggest importer of wheat and other food items in the coming years. The government has not learned anything from the experience of oil seeds. The oil seed production in India was self-sufficient until 1998 and because of the wrong import policies of the then NDA government, which are being followed by the present UPA government too, we are now importing 50 per cent of our needs from the multi-national companies.
In this situation, the CKC has decided to organise joint militant struggles along with other organisations working among the peasantry and agricultural workers. The CKC has also decided to organise massive struggles on local issues –– crop-wise and sector-wise.
The CKC has noted that lakhs of sugarcane growers all over India are only getting the price of 40 to 50 per cent of the cost of production. It was decided that road roko, rail roko, picketing and other forms of struggle will be organised all over India before the end of June demanding proper price for sugarcane. The central government and the state governments should give proper compensation to the affected sugarcane farmers immediately so that they can continue production. The CKC warned that if this is not done immediately, the experience of oil seeds will get repeated in the sugarcane production too.
The CKC has also decided to conduct the struggle for proper implementation of REGA in the coming months. The issues of ration cards, proper implementation of public distribution system and the caste atrocities in rural India will also be taken up as main issues for campaign and struggle in the coming days. To galvanise the struggle, the CKC has decided to organise a joint all India convention with CITU and AIAWU in August in New Delhi. In this connection the CKC has noted with great satisfaction that the joint action conducted by these organisations on April 18 all over India was very successful and tens of thousands of farmers and workers participated in the April 18 campaign.
It also decided to publicise the alternative agricultural policy of AIKS and other Left organisations and an all India seminar will be conducted in August in New Delhi and following it joint actions of peasantry and agricultural workers will be organised all over India.
The CKC noted the wide range of struggles that took place in this period not only in stronger states like Bengal and Kerala, but also in weaker states. The struggle for land in Andhra Pradesh, struggle for sugarcane price in Tamilnadu, UP and Maharashtra and the struggle for the implementation of Tribal Act in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and the struggle for implementing REGA in various states have attracted tens of thousands of peasants and agricultural workers which shows the growing anger among the people on the anti-people policies being pursued by the government. The initiative taken by the All India Kisan Sabha in organising these struggles has widened the reach of the organisation. The CKC noted with satisfaction that there is more than 25 per cent increase in membership in Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam and other states. In the states like Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand, the membership has almost doubled because of the intensive struggle conducted by the state units of Kisan Sabha. This has increased the membership by 10 lakhs this year so far and it is expected to cross 2 crore 20 lakh by June-end when the actual finalisation of membership will take place. Because of the continuous struggle in Rajasthan, the membership has crossed 2,20,000 –– an increase of more than 60,000 as compared to last year. It was decided in the CKC that one week intensive campaign will be conducted for membership in other states also in the coming period.
As on date the total membership of AIKS is 2,10,94,511. Since many members requested to extend the time limit for enrolment, it has been decided to extend the date for enrolment of the membership till the end of June, 2007.
The following resolutions have been passed in the CKC meeting.
On Implementation Of Forest Rights Act
The CKC of the AIKS while expressing satisfaction that
the Forest Rights Act was adopted by parliament in December 2006, demands that
the rules to the Act be framed immediately and that this important Act be
implemented forthwith throughout the country at the earliest.
The Forest Rights Act for the first time since independence has recognised the right of Adivasis and other non-tribal traditional forest dwellers to the land that they had been cultivating for several generations and also to minor forest produce. The cut-off date for the implementation of the Act has been stipulated as December 2005 and it has also been stipulated that the pattas will be vested in the joint names of both husband and wife.
If properly implemented, this Act will ensure justice and will promote the livelihood of large sections of the peasantry among the nearly 9 crore Adivasi population in the country. It will also put an end to the eviction drive and repression often let loose against tribals by the forest officials and police over the last several decades. The Act also has important environmental implications. We emphasise that forests cannot be protected unless the rights of those dependent on forests for their livelihoods and traditional sources of dried consumption are protected.
The CKC of the AIKS calls upon all units of the Kisan Sabha throughout the country to prepare for a massive campaign and struggle for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act. The CKC cautions all its units that without such a concerted and organised drive, there is the danger that vested interests – the bureaucracy and forest officials – will try to sabotage the Act and prevent its benefits from reaching the large mass of forest dwelling tribal and non-tribal.
On The Burning Problems Of Sugarcane Growers
The CKC of the AIKS takes serious note of the burning problems being faced by sugarcane growers in various parts of the country this year. There has been a bumper harvest of sugarcane this year, with the result that lakhs of tonnes of cane in states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere lies uncrushed and left standing in the fields. This has led to tremendous losses and hardships to lakhs of cane growers. This is further compounded by the crash in the international price of sugar.
The outstanding arrears of lakhs of cane growers have not been paid by sugar factories. There is also a drive to privatise many government run and cooperative sugar factories in many states.
The CKC of the AIKS demands that the central and state governments intervene immediately to protect the interests of cane peasants and calls upon all Kisan Sabha units to launch a struggle for the following demands:
All registered sugarcane should be crushed within the time limit framed earlier by the respective sugar factories. After crushing the registered cane, the factories should be directed to crush the unregistered cane. The government must compensate the respective factories which are incurring losses due to low recovery owing to belated crushing of cane.
If in spite of this, uncrushed cane still remains, the government must pay compensation to cane peasants at the rate of Rs 30,000 per acre.
The outstanding arrears of sugarcane to the tune of Rs 6000 crore should be immediately disbursed to cane growers along with interest.
The crushing capacity of cooperative and government sugar factories should be enhanced by allocating funds for their modernisation. The production of ethanol for power generation should be permitted.
The government must procure jaggery at the rate of Rs 1500 per quintal so that a portion of cane can be crushed for jaggery production.
Government loans to cooperative factories should be converted into government’s share.
The drive to privatise government-run and cooperative sugar factories must be halted.
On Police Firing In Rajasthan
The CKC of AIKS condemns the brutal police firing in Rajasthan during Gujjars’ movement. It is said that 25 persons including three policemen have died and many hundreds have been wounded.
Gujjar Arkhasana Sanghash Samithi had called for road blockade demanding inclusion of their caste in ST category. BJP during last state assembly election campaign had promised to recommend its inclusion.
The CKC demands judicial inquiry into these incidents of police firing and lathi-charges. Those who are found guilty should be punished. (INN)