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Mainstream, VOL LV No 27 New Delhi June 24, 2017

Sudhakar’s Letter to Modi on Agrarian Crisis

Saturday 24 June 2017, by Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy

Dear Shri Narendra Modiji,

Sub: Unprecedented Agrarian Crisis—Request for urgent special session of Parliament

This is to bring to your attention that the country is facing an unprecedented agrarian crisis. There was famine and drought in some States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rayalaseema area of Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha, while there is bumper crop in some other areas which is a contrast.

The bumper crop and good yield have become a curse to the peasants. The prices of Onion, Tomato, Chilli, Soyabean and Pulses have fallen to 40 per cent to 25 per cent of last year’s prices. Pulses and wheat were allowed to be imported, while the peasant is suffering with low price of his crop of pulses and wheat.

Thousands of peasants have already committed suicide and many are on way. According to one estimate, 35 farmers commit suicide per day on an average which is shocking. Over five lakh kisans committed suicides since 1995. The cultivable land is shrinking year after year because of mines, acquisition for industries, corporates, new and expansion of roads, urbanisation, etc. The population of farmers has been reduced by one crore fifty lakhs in the recent period and most of them have transformed as agricultural labour. The real incomes are going down. The Indian kisan is angry and frustrated. We have witnessed serious agitations in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, massive protests in Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, frustrated angry agitation of Tamil Nadu peasants in Delhi and State-level agitations of peasants in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telan-gana, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh etc. Loan waiver is only a temporary relief which is opposed by the Reserve Bank and finance authorities while they agree to help big corporates by sanctioning, at throwaway prices, minerals, natural gas, coal mines, reduce taxes and waive lakhs of crores of rupees as bad loans.

Loan waiver to farmer is not a charity but a necessity. Loan waiver is only a small relief for one year. Lack of irrigation, costly fertiliser, non-availability of quality seeds at unreasonable prices, irregular electricity supply, marketing of agri-products and, above all, remunerative price are some of the other problems. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) is many times less than the market price and does not even meet the cost of production.

Crop insurance is not insurance to the farmer but insurance to the bank which is lending loan to the farmer. Even five per cent of farmers are not benefited by crop insurance but insurance companies benefit in looting the peasants through premiums.

Watering down the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act by Central and State govern-ments, through unjustified methods of amend-ments, made the positive features of it totally ineffective. Social impact assessment and “prior consent” of the affected peasants are being thrown to the winds, to satisfy the lust of the corporates, by the Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States. The NDA Government tried the same through ordinances which failed for the time being. The government is committed to promote “ease of doing business than ease of doing agriculture”, as appropriately commented by prominent social activist E.A.S. Sarma, Former Secretary of Energy to the Government of India. Millions of farmers are displaced without proper compensation.

The farmers are facing nature’s wrath every year, besides the risks of middle men after the crop yielding. Crores of small farmers are the unfortunate victims. The Indian farmer is born in debt, lives through debt, dies in debt since the British days till today.

The collective anger of the Indian peasant is manifest in small protests in the recent agitations. If not solved, it may take a gigantic form. Hence, we request you to act now, right now.

The Dr M.S. Swaminathan Commission has drawn the attention to complete the unfinished agenda of land reforms, technology access, adequate and timely institutional credit, remunerative marketing etc. The Dr Swami-nathan Commission’s recommendations need to be adopted as those are pro-farmer. It is the right time to implement them in toto.

Hence, the CPI urges upon you to call a special session of Parliament, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, for 10 working days as early as possible with the only agenda of agrarian crisis and to find immediate and permanent solutions.

I hope you will consider our proposal and take a positive decision.

Thanking you,

With regards,

Yours sincerely

June 14, 2017

New Delhi Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy

Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, a former MP, is the General Secretary, CPI.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62