People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 07, 2012



One More Farmer Commits Suicide on Wayanad


N S Sajith


IN Wayanad, the farmers’ suicide capital of Kerala, one more farmer ended his life on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Mathokkil Abraham alias Babu (48) from Ambalavayal consumed poison due to debt trap. His body was found in his house in the wee hours on the day.


It came to be known that Babu had taken a loan of two lakh rupees from the State Bank of Travancore and South Malabar Gramin Bank for banana and ginger cultivation and for education of his children. But the steep fall in the prices of these farm products made him desperate, close relatives of Abraham told. He is survived by wife and two daughters.




The recent Kerala High Court observation on the possibility of banning toddy in the state has sparked a hot debate. As the Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest constituent in the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front, has openly backed the court’s observation and demanded a blanket ban on toddy, most of the other political leaders are opposed to the idea. The CPI(M) has strongly condemned the League’s suggestion and expressed concern that the ban would bring an end to a centuries old traditional occupation and render thousands of people jobless.


On September 30, the High Court asked the state government to rethink about discontinuing the toddy business to save the poor people from the evils of drinking and to prevent the bootleggers. The court also said the sale of arrack and spurious liquor in the name of toddy still prevailed in the state. Earlier the court had asked the government to ‘liberate’ the state from the toddy menace.


The CPI(M) state secretariat, in a statement, reacted that the move is unscientific and that it would ruin this traditional industry. The government must take stringent steps against the liquor mafia. The Udayabhanu commission, which went into the pros and cons of this industry, recommended the protection of toddy shops and toddy industry. The ban of this less harmful drink would mean a spread of spurious alcoholic liquors, the commission said.


Kerala excise minister K Babu has ruled out the possibility of prohibiting toddy. He reacted that the court should not dictate what people should drink. The minister said, "it is not the United Democratic Front's policy to close down toddy shops. The court's order is not practical.”


Opposition leader V S Achuthandndan said it would be an impractical move fraught with far-reaching consequences. In Kerala, toddy tapping has been a traditional occupation for centuries. Compared to alcoholic drinks, toddy is less harmful and it is a natural yield used for making some of non-alcoholic products as well," he said.




Following the hike in electricity charges, now a bus fare hike is on the cards. Price of the milk is also slated to be increased by Rs 5.

A committee for fare fixing, headed by Justice N Ramachandran, has suggested the government hike the minimum charge by one rupee, and the government is likely to accept the suggestions soon. Currently the minimum charge is Rs 5. The committee handed over its report to the Kerala transport minister Aryadan Muhammed on September 28, 2012. Reportedly, another report is also being prepared to suggest a hike in the fares of taxi and auto-rickshaws. The committee also suggested a 50 per cent hike in the students’ concessional passes. The suggestion came on the heels of a diesel price hike. This would be the second hike in one year.


The committee also suggested proportionate fare hike in the fares of fast passenger and express buses.




Pushing the state towards dim days and dark nights, the Kerala cabinet has decided to clamp hours of load-shedding for all categories of power consumers. The decision is that there would be load shedding between 6 and 9 in the morning and again between 6.30 and 10-30 in the night. The decision came into effect on September 27 and will be in force till November 30.


A suggestion from the Electricity Regulatory Commission to impose a 25 per cent power cut for industrial units has been forwarded to the State Electricity Board for consideration.


Notably, load shedding revisits the state after a long gap of 16 years. It was abolished during the tenure of LDF government led by late Comrade E K Nayanar. The incumbent government had previously imposed a half an hour load shedding, which was withdrawn after a month.