More than 4000 peasants belonging to 40 villages of Nohar tehsil of Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan came together on the issue of irrigation waters at 10 a.m. on November 12, 2009 at the Farmers Rest House under the leadership of the Kisan-Mazdoor-Vyapari Sangharsh Samiti to march to the Special District Magistrate’s (SDM) office and sit on a dharna.
A dharna demanding irrigation facilities has already been going on since 27 October 2009 at the SDM’s office in Nohar.
The procession turned into a meeting after reaching the SDM’s office. The meeting was convened by Manoj Chotia and presided over by Com. Om Sahu, Madan Beniwal, Nohar MLA Abhishek Matoria, Amarsingh Punia, and others.
Delhi Secretary of Lok Raj Sangathan Birju Nayak, speaking at the dharna, said that the Government is willing to spend crores of rupees on finding water on the moon but when it comes to the demand of the farmers for irrigation it is not taking any steps. Lok Raj Sangathan condemns this attitude of the State and Central Governments.
About the theft of water from the canals, he said that the leaders of the big political parties in collusion with the Irrigation Department and top officials allow the theft of water thus violating the rights of masses of peasants.
Congratulating the peasants present there on behalf of the Lok Raj Sangathan for constituting the Kisan-Mazdoor-Vyapari Sangharsh Samiti, he called upon them to further strengthen the organisation. He quoted from the Rgveda that a raja has no right to rule if he cannot ensure that the sukh and suraksha of the people. Such a raja should be killed and all his responsibilities should be handed to samitis. He said that all who have joined the samitis, irrespective of which party they may belong to, must work to strengthen the organization; placing the interest of the party above the collective interest of the peasants would amount to betraying them.
He further said that the Government is asking people to feel proud because our capitalists are buying up companies in Japan, Germany, England, US; skyscrapers are defining the skyline, roads are being laid and weapons of attack for major wars are being made here. However, India is also on the top of the list of countries where people are hungry and abysmally poor; infant and maternal mortality rates are still very high; our youth are suffering from malnutrition; majority of our people do not get clean drinking water; they are deprived of healthcare. Can we then be proud of such development and such an India – certainly not! This capitalist development is driven by the motive to increase the profits of a handful of capitalists.
It is not just Rajasthan, but the entire country that is in struggle today. All over India, the fertile fields of the peasants are being acquired and handed over to the capitalists. Tribal people are being uprooted to hand over their land-lakes-forests to the capitalists. Workers are oppressed by the policies of the Government. Prices are continuously rising. Capitalists are purchasing the produce of the farmers cheap and they are multiplying their profits by selling dear.
Addressing the meeting, the Convenor of Kisan-Mazdoor-Vyapari Sangaharsh Samiti, Shri Om Sahu said that farmers of the whole of Bikaner area have been demanding water for irrigation for last several years. Farmers of Rawala-Ghadsana brought in a new government through their struggles. Whether it was the earlier government or the present one, both are ignoring the demand of the farmers for irrigation. The whole system of irrigation has been handed over to contractors. Colluding with the Administration, they fill their pockets by allowing the water to be stolen. They are not even maintaining the canals properly. Criticizing the anti-peasant, anti-worker policies, he said that the Government is there only to look after the interest of capitalists.
The MLA from Nohar, Shri Abhishek Matoria declared, “we will not negotiate with the Administration unless an authoritative officer calls us for discussion. If officers at the level of the Collector call us for discussions, only then will we join the discussion”.
At the conclusion of the dharna that day, the peasants gathered decided not to attend the 4 p.m meeting that evening and only join the meeting if the Collector and other senior administrative officers were present. The new date for the meeting was then set for 16th November.
The Kisan-Mazdoor-Vyapari Sangaharsh Samiti President, Com. Madan Beniwal concluded the meeting and called upon the peasants who were present to remain united and declared that the struggle will not be wasted. He also appealed for three people to join everyday for the indefinite dharna.
Others who addressed the meeting included youth leader Bhagat Ram Monde, Com. Niyamat Ali of the Brick Kiln Workers’ Union; Ram Gopal Sahu – Secretary and Jaydev Chaudhari – Spokesperson of the Kisan-Mazdoor-Vyapari Sangaharsh Samiti; Gurumail Singh – Treasurer; Kuldeep Bhamu – President, Water Distribution Committee; Pratap Singh Beniwal – Rashtriya Lok Dal President; Raju Chochan – ex-Chairman, Nohar; Amarsingh Punia, and Kanharam Saharan – ex-President of Sangaharsh Samiti.
At the end of the meeting effigies of the Chief Minister and Irrigation Minister were burnt. Slogans were shouted against the anti-people, anti-farmer and anti-worker policies of the Rajasthan Government.
The Demands are as follows:
- Ensure that the entire waters of Nohar feeder, Amarsingh branch and Sidhmukh canals reach the tail end of the canals.
- Complete the incomplete work of survey and demarcation.
- Minor canal (canal branches) beds to be corrected.
- Start the construction of pucca water channels, complete the incomplete constructions and inspect and maintain the broken drains urgently.
- The gate at the Punjab Head should be removed and a gate should be installed at the Malleka Minor.
- After correcting the bed levels of the Minors, all land that is irrigable should brought under command area.
- Wherever water F.S.L. has not been maintained those moghos (openings for water flow) should be repaired.
- The 30 moghos installed from 0 RD to 90 RD of Amarsingh branch should be installed in separately constructed channel.
- Canal waters should be granted exemption from water tax.
- Farmers should be compensated taking crop insurance chak as the unit and K C C holders should be compensated due to complete failure of crops in the current year.