People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 52

December 26, 2010

 

Crop Losses: Over 130 Farmers

Commit Suicide in AP

 

THE unseasonly rains in December have brought total misery to an already shattered farmers and peasants in Andhra Pradesh. Crops that were on the verge of being harvested, particularly paddy, have been damaged in the incessant rains. Farmers, particularly the tenant farmers, who borrowed heavily for these crops, are devastated with the loss. With the state and central governments not moving swiftly in assuring any help to the affected farmers, many of them are resorting to tragic suicides to escape the tragic losses. Some others are dying of heart attacks. At the time of writing this, more than 130 such farmers have lost their lives in the last few days.

 

Despite the leader of opposition and Telugu Desam president Chandrababu Naiduís indefinite hunger strike entering the seventh day and the Left parties and TDP agitation intensifying on this issue, the state government led by the new chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is hardly bothering to concede the demand for higher compensation to the affected farmers, He had announced in the state assembly an amount of Rs 2400 per acre for the affected farmers while the opposition is demanding at least Rs 10,000 per acre. The government is not even willing to discuss earnestly on the amount. On the contrary, the chief ministerís brazen comments about the fasting leader of opposition regarding achieving his aim of being shown as Ďfarmer-friendlyí have sparked off severe reaction not only from TDP but other sections also. At a time when there is real threat of Naiduís condition becoming critical, the insensitivity of the government has shocked the people. The protest actions have intensified and the programme of blockading national and state highways was a success.

 

Meanwhile, the recently expelled Congress leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddyís mass hunger strike on the banks of Krishna river in Vijayawada on the same issue has shaken the new chief minister. Around 20 MLAs of Congress party and two MLAs of Praja Rajyam party have gone to the hunger strike camp and expressed solidarity with Jagan. It is reported that a desperate CM spoke to other MLAs to prevent them from going to Jaganís hunger strike camp. The high command is in no position to act against the brazen defiance by the MLAs.

 

The announcement of Rs 400 crore by prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh has been tom tommed by the state government but in reality that amount is only an advance from the Disaster Management funds that AP is entitled to in the next year. As the CPI(M) state committee has charged, the chief minister and the Congress are looking at this issue from a political point of view instead of seeing it from the farmers point of view. With the tenant farmers suffering the most, the government has not come out with any assurance regarding them. Unlike in Bengal, there is no recording of tenants in the patta books nor are identity cards issued for them. They thus risk losing whatever compensation the government might give  now. Although the state farmers organizations claim that there are around 40 lakh tenant farmers in the state, the state government estimates the figure at around 25 lakh. Most of the tenant farmers are small and marginal peasants who come from dalit and other backward sections of the society. With no land rights, they are cut off from whatever meager institutional lending is available and thus forced to borrow at usury rates from private money lenders. Therefore these crop losses are a huge burden on them. The TDP and Left parties are trying to give confidence to the affected farmers through struggles for higher compensation.

(INN)