Gujarat: 145 farmers commit suicide in three years

Gandhinagar, Mar 26 : As many as 145 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat in last three years due to various reasons.

Replying to a question in the assembly, Agriculture Minister Dilip Sanghani yesterday said that 103 farmers committed suicide in 2007, 35 in 2008 and seven committed suicide till September last year.

Mr Sanghani said five farmers committed suicide because of debt and 140 farmers committed suicide due to some other reasons including personal ones.

With 32 suicides in three years, Junagadh in Saurashtra topped the list of the districts where farmers committed suicide.

It was followed by Kheda in Central Gujarat with 25 cases of suicides. Navasari in South Gujarat recorded minimum cases with one in three years.

Farmers suicide: HC notices to Orissa govt, OHRC, CBI–HC-notices-to-Orissa-govt–OHRC–CBI

Cuttack, Mar 18 (PTI) Taking cognisance of a PIL pertaining to suicide by a farmer, the Orissa High Court today issued notices to the state government, CBI and Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
A bench of HC comprising Justice A S Naidu and Justice B N Mohapatra took note of the PIL pertaining to the suicide by Jhintu Bariah in Balangir and issued notices to four state government officials, including the CBI SP in Bhubaneswar and the chairman of OHRC.
The respondents would have to file their counters to the PIL within three weeks, the order said, adding that the matter would come up for hearing after the affidavits are received.
Demanding a CBI enquiry into what the petitioner alleged as "starvation death" of the farmer, the PIL was filed in January this year.

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India up for sale to MNCs

Pushpa M Bhargava

First Published : 15 Mar 2010 12:14:00 AM IST

The recent historic moratorium on Bt brinjal by Jairam Ramesh, minister of environment and forests, has created a network of citizens’ organisations around the country that have risen spontaneously from the ground, and have prevented the country’s agriculture becoming devoid of its diversity and moving in the direction of control by multinational corporations (MNCs). These corporations have strong links with the government of the United States of America US, and their sole objectives are (a) to make as much money as possible by any means, and (b) to eventually have total control over Indian agriculture, using every ruse known to the world of conmen. Unlike the government of India, they are fully aware that whosoever controls seed and agrochemical business in India, controls its agriculture. And whosoever controls our agriculture, controls India and its food security, for 62 per cent Indians derive their total sustenance from agriculture and, in our country, food security, food sovereignty, agriculture security, farmers security, and security of the rural sector, are synonymous and important components of national security and autonomy. If Bt brinjal had been approved, India would have, in course of time, ceased to be, de facto, an independent country and we, its citizens, would have had to start fighting the third war of independence which we would have eventually won, for truth always wins in the long run.

It is unfortunate that our government — our politicians and bureaucrats (exception granted) — and the rich and the powerful in the country, seem to be siding with the MNCs (read US), in their attempt to acquire control over our agriculture. This is reminiscent of India being ruled by the British through a class of Indians. Only the structure, colour and strategy of this class seem to have changed, while Britain has been replaced by the US plus the MNCs. Let us look at the evidence:

* We signed the India-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture during the first UPA government. Following this — and, perhaps, in preparation of this — our research and extension work in agriculture seems to have totally discounted our strengths and needs. Let me give some examples: The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has developed integrated pest management (IPM) and biopesticides for some 85 crops, including cotton and brinjal. Why have we not used these technologies instead of peddling Monsanto’s Bt crops?

Organic agriculture has been India’s forte. It brings better price for the produce. Andhra Pradesh already has two million acres under organic agriculture and has plans to take this area to 10 million in the next two or three years. Why are our Krishi Vigyan Kendras (I believe there is one in each district) not encouraging organic agriculture? Why does not ICAR have an institute devoted to organic agriculture?

Given today’s knowledge of molecular biology, why are our agriculture research scientists not developing varieties which would have the advantages of hybrids? The farmers can then have their own seeds and would not have to depend on seed companies. At a meeting that the director general of ICAR and I had co-chaired when I was the vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, nine energy saving steps for agriculture were identified. Why have they not been taken?

The ICAR has published in several volumes, details of over 4000 traditional agriculture practices, many of which have been validated and cross-validated. We have many more documented by the National Innovation Foundation. Why are we not using the validated ones and taking steps to examine the remaining? Why are we not using our horticulture potential? For example, all the technology exists in the State Forest Research Laboratory of Arunachal Pradesh to grow over 600 orchids through tissue culture. These orchids can capture the world orchid market, replacing Thailand (for our orchids are far more beautiful and the world is tired of Thai orchids) and bring to Arunachal Pradesh a revenue of over Rs 10,000 crore a year. Why are we not pursuing the possibility?

Why is our department of agriculture not using the outstanding capabilities that our National Remote Sensing Agency has to, for example, identify diseased plants in a field so that one can prevent the spread of the disease?

* Ten of our leading CEOs signed the Indo-US CEO agreement (available on Planning Commission’s website) in which the Indian CEOs (led by Ratan Tata) agreed to put the lid on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, promised not to give any trouble to Coca Cola and Pepsi irrespective of the quality and quantity of their misdeeds, and open our retail market to the US. There is already a US demand that India cuts down its subsidies to agriculture which are a pittance in comparison to what the US provides to its agriculturists.

* We recently signed secretly, an MoU on ‘Agriculture Cooperation and Food Security’ with the US, even though all the inputs we require — scientific, technological, managerial or social — to improve our agriculture to meet national demands (present or future) are available within the country. The MoU (The Hindu, February 24, 2010), for all practical purposes, appears to have handed over our food security and sovereignty, farmers security, agriculture security and security of the rural sector comprising 70 per cent of our population, to the US.

* The government has been supporting introduction of GM food and other crops in the country, which will eventually give control of our agriculture to US-based MNCs. Jairam Ramesh, taking into account overwhelming public opinion and unbiased scientific opinion has, rightly and courageously, in a statesman-like manner, put an indefinite moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal; he has gone on record to say that he has only two supporters in the government and the ruling party: the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi.

* Our surrender to the US seems to be total. If we buy nuclear reactors from the US (which we would be obliged to buy), we will pay most of the compensation in case of a nuclear accident, not the vendor of the reactor. And on the March 6, V K Saraswat, scientific adviser to our defence minister, said that the US is still denying us technology (Deccan Chronicle, March 7, 2010).

On November 10, 1698, Charles Eyre bought three fishing villages — Sutanuti, Govindpore and Dihi-Koikata — from a Bengali landlord for Rs1,300, and laid the foundation of  today’s Kolkata. We are now trying to sell our entire country for a pittance (if for anything at all) to MNCs and the US. Those who are involved in this effort must understand that the citizens of this country are well-equipped to fight the third war of independence if that happens.

About the author:

Pushpa M Bhargava

is the former vice chairman of the National Knowledge Commission

16 Vidarbha farmers suicides in a week – VJAS urged for Smt.Sonia Gandhi to save vidarbha farmers

Nagpur-15th march 2010

Unseasonable rains in the last two-three days in the region for vidarbha growers, these have proved to be extremely detrimental as four more farmers suicides reported in last 48 hours taking toll to 16 farm suicides in a week include one women farmer in the on going agrarian crisis in the region which has shown impact of despair and extreme distress forced over 2 million farm families as per official survey, informed Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan andolan Samiti (VJAS) in press note .

“In a letter to UPA convener smt.sonia GandhiIndia VJAS has drawn attention toward the fact regarding seriousness of agrarian crises in India that has claimed more than 2,16,000 farmers killed themselves in Maharashtra since 1997 as official figure of Govt. of India and majority of farmers are from dry land region south west India,this year there is severe crop failure due to drought in Maharashtra as more than 20000 villages have officially declared drought hit by Maharashtra Govt and despair in amounting to suicide due to apathy of administration toward the crisis ” Tiwari added.

16 vidarbha farmers who committed suicides in this week are

1.Gunwant Raut of Dhotra inWashim

2.Vithal Lende of Bishur in nagpur

3,Amol Matharmare of Mahatoli In Yavatmal

4.Kisan Patil of Katpur In Amaravati

5.Sandeepzole of Pahur In Yavatmal

6.Purshottam Dewase of Kakada In Wardha

7.Ankush Narayan Thakray of Nimtalai in Nagpur

8.Suryakant Ganpat Gokare of Aadkoli in Yavatmal

9.Satish Keshav Dhote of Bhabulgoan in Yavatmal

10.Smt.Vimal Abhiman Kowe of Zuli In Yavatmal.

11.Santosh Janardhan Bhisale of Koyali In Washim

12.Prahald Nimba Rathode of Mahagoan in Yavatmal

13.Raobhan Raoji Surpam of Morwa In Yavatmal

14.Praka Bhaukade of Udi In Akola .

15.Balaji Paikine 0f Marsud In Yavatmal

16.Prahal Gawande of Bhadkad In Akola

As per administration reports these drought hit 15460 villages in vidarbha facing the problem of water ,fodder ,food and employment but till date any single district administration has not started any relief work resulting migration of thousands farmers for the want of work .ground condition is worst than June-2006 and now it’s time for Indian intervention to solve vidarbha agrarian crisis as all relief package failed to give any result we demand to provide free health care, food security, rural employment , fodder to save dying cattle ,drinking water to rural masses and cattle on priority basis so that prevailing acute distress can be minimize and farmers suicides can be controlled ,Tiwari said.


In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’ In the Golden Jubilee Year of Maharashtra ‘facing worst economic crisis’


Nagpur- 12th March 2010, When last in august 2009 it’s first economic survey before submitting the budget Maharashtra Govt. has admitted that state is not economic growth map when it was told that last year Maharashtra lost 2 million jobs in the year 2008-2009,food grain production dropped by 25% before drought has been declared ,outstanding debt mounting to Rs.1,58,520 crore, interest payment on debt is Rs. 12,953 crore,30% drop in employment provided under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), poverty ratio in the State is 30.7 per cent as against All-India average of 27.5 percent and more than 6000 farm suicides and lacs of tribals death due to malnutrition and starvation but same time rosy picture was shown regarding massive job creation and investments in infrastructure ,increase in food crop production ,reduction in the debt and restoration basic facilities to poor like food ,shelter, health ,education and rural employment ,industrial growth but nothing has happened and economical crisis further deepen and in the golden jubilee year of it’s formation Maharashtra is set to face worst economic crisis and fiscal collapse due to poor governance and massive corruption in ministry , Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti(VJAS) president kishor Tiwari informed today regarding economic collapse of Maharashtra and urged central Govt. intervention to avoid systematic failure of fiscal structure of Maharashtra . VJAS has drawn the attention towards the drought situation in more than 20,000 villages that has effected sharply drop in kharif and raby crop and first food production has like to be drop below 102 lakh MT first time in history of Maharashtra .it was told that Total 14,957 industrial projects with an investment of Rs. 5,04,689 crore and employment potential of about 27.54 lakh have been registered with the GoI to set up units in the State till the end of December, 2008. Out of these, 6,778 projects with an investment of Rs. 1,10,149 crore have already started their production and employment of about 6.93 lakh has been generated. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the last five years for investments in registered and commissioned projects is 16.1 and 2.6 per cent respectively but in ground reality nothing has happened. Regarding power sector growth it was told that ,the total available installed capacity of electricity in the State at the end of March, 2008 was 21,654 MW as against 17,984 MW at the end of March, 2007. During 2008-09, the generation of electricity in the State upto the end of November, 2008 was 51,465 million KWH, higher by 6.0 per cent than that in the corresponding period of 2007-08. The State is facing a power deficit of about 4,500MW. The transmission losses of MAHATRANSCO were 5.0 per cent and the distribution losses of MAHADISCOM were 24.1 per cent during 2007-08 but net incrase in power is almost nil . Major high light of economic survey was An ambitious project for setting up a world class Multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) is being developed by Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd. (MADC), the State owned company. The project covers development of existing domestic airport at Nagpur as an international Passenger and Cargo Hub Airport, along with a huge Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and with overall world class facilities such as road infrastructure, separate road and rail terminal that will handle 14 million passenger traffic and an estimated 8.7 lakh tones of cargo per year. The unique feature of this project is ‘Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO)’ base for comprehensive maintenance of aircraft, the first independent MRO in India but after year MIHAN is turning out to be hoax has it failed to give single job to skilled or unskilled worker of the region more over it has been become land mafia activity centre. ‘As Maharashtra chief Minster Ashok Chavan was full year busy in land allotments and land lease ,touts have taken over the administration and Maharashtra in it’s golden year of creation is going toward bad phase of economic condition of one time very progressive state Maharashtra due to huge mounting debt, massive administrative corruption coupled with administrative failure of present Govt., It’s matter of serious concern of all tax prayer of Maharashtra ’ kishore tiwari of VJAS informed today. As per last year economic report ,it is informed that the revenue receipts of the State Government are expected to be Rs. 79,911 crore during 2008-09 as against Rs. 79,860 crore during 2007-08. The tax revenue of the State is expected to be Rs. 60,839 crore in which State’s own tax revenue is Rs. 51,893 crore (85 per cent). The non-tax revenue is expected to be Rs. 19,072 crore.The revenue expenditure of the State Government during 2008-09 is expected to be Rs. 78,946 crore, higher by 19 per cent over the previous year, of which interest payment is Rs. 12,953 crore (16.4 per cent).The total outstanding debt during 2008-09 is expected to be Rs. 1,58,520 crore (25.8 percent of the GSDP).The food grains production for kharif and rabi season in the State is estimated to be 117.19 lakh M.T. as a preliminary forecast, less by 24 per cent compared to that of the previous year. A steep fall of 49 per cent is expected in production of oilseeds. Sugarcane production is also expected to be much lower by 43 per cent (at 508.13 lakh M.T.) mainly due to reduction of 30 percent in the harvested area.The estimated employment in the State, based on National Sample Survey, which was on rise till 2004-05 at 4.3 crore, declined to 4.1 crore in 2007-08 clearly indicating the footprints of recession.The employment provided under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) during 2008-09 was 4.2 crore person days as against 6.0 crore person days provided under Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and NREGS during 2007-08.The poverty estimate provided by the Planning Commission of India, reveal that the poverty ratio in the State during 2004-05 is 30.7 per cent as against All-India average of 27.5 percent. Though the results at various points of time show decline in poverty ratios, the number of persons living below poverty line is gradually increasing since 1973-74 and increased by 12.2 lakh persons in 2004-05 as compared to 1993-94.Kishore Tiwari of VJAS has asked today to central Govt. to review economic crisis in Maharashtra due to uncontrolled plan and unplanned expenses of state Govt. and on going fiscal deficit of state Govt. as bureaucratic control is of executive is missing and corruption in administration is at it’s peak hence fiscal monitoring and central review is needed.. “this is election year but people of Maharashtra will have to pay cost of political misdeed in future ,more hardship are in pipeline if corrective steps are not taken today” tiwari added.


Coca-Cola and Water Use in India: “Good Till the Last Drop” : The Primate Diaries

Coca-Cola and Water Use in India: "Good Till the Last Drop" : The Primate Diaries

The marketing executive who came up with Coca-Cola’s popular slogan in 1908 most likely never expected it would be taken so literally. However, a hundred years ago there probably weren’t many who imagined a term like "water wars" could exist in a region that experiences annual monsoons.

On February 25 a complaint was filed in the New York Supreme Court against the The Coca-Cola Company alleging that they knew about and sought to cover up human rights abuses in Guatemala. While that trial gets started, the company’s controversial practices in India continue involving the over-exploitation of limited water resources and the contamination of groundwater supplies. In response to public outcry the soft drink company is now championing itself as a longtime environmental leader and the business community is eager to advertise their claim. Yesterday CNN Money reported that:

Coke has been a leader when it comes to environmental issues: It is aiming to be water neutral — meaning every drop of water used by the company will be replenished — by 2020.

This would come as a surprise to the Plachimada community in the State of Kerala. Ever since Coca-Cola opened a bottling plant on their land in 2000 they have been faced with chronic drought and polluted water. In 2006 these residents of a small impoverished community in southern India began a pitched campaign to evict Coca-Cola from their land which led to fierce battles with local authorities.

In 2003 Indian journalist Arjun Sen wrote in The Statesman:

Three years ago, the little patch of land in the green, picturesque rolling hills of Palakkad yielded 50 sacks of rice and 1,500 coconuts a year. It provided work for dozens of labourers. Then Coke arrived and built a 40-acre bottling plant nearby. In his last harvest, Shahul Hameed, owner of a smallholding, could manage only five sacks of rice and just 200 coconuts. His irrigation wells have run dry, thanks to Coke drawing up to 1.5 million litres of water daily through its deep wells to bottle Coke, Fanta, Sprite, and the drink the locals call without irony, "Thumbs Up."

To make matters worse, the bottling plant was producing thousands of gallons of toxic sludge and, as the BBC reported, disposed of it by selling the carcinogenic material to local farmers as "fertilizer." High levels of pesticides were also reportedly found in the soft drink produced in the region leading to bans across the country. According to The Guardian, some Indian farmers even chose to spray their fields with Coca-Cola rather than use the more expensive pesticides from Monsanto.

However, the most serious problem was water use. According to anthropologist Ananthakrishnan Aiyer writing in the journal Cultural Anthropology the persistent water problems in the region soon became a crisis after the company’s arrival:

A severe drought in 2004 in Kerala complicated matters as Plachimada was declared a "water impoverished" zone in 2005. By 2005, the Plachimada situation was being replicated as the struggle over water and irrigation rights spread to other rural communities across the country, which led to several agitations and demonstrations against The Coca-Cola Company.

Despite attempts to revoke their license Coca-Cola remained. As Aiyer pointed out, it would have been foolish not to. The company extracted groundwater nearly free of charge (except for a small fee for discharging wastewater) and they were able to reap enormous profits as a result. In the late 1990s the average cost of industrial water in the U.S. was about five dollars per 10,000 litres, whereas in India the price was a mere three cents.

Water in India is literally free and highly lucrative for private corporations. Thus, access to cheap groundwater and the low cost of extracting it in combination with low labor costs and state and local governments falling over each other to attract "foreign investment," all play a role in facilitating the entry of transnational corporations into the water industry.

However, this investment, from Coca-Cola and other multinationals, has come at a significant cost to the local population:

The rural population has especially suffered the most. The clearest and most visible signs of this distress, and there are many, are of course the steady numbers of farmer suicides across the country. By several reliable estimates, there have been anywhere from 22,000 to 25,000 suicides by farmers in the past decade and the majority of these have taken place in the western and southern states. This amounts to about seven suicides a day–a situation that would have called for a national emergency in most Western neoliberal states, but it is certainly not the case in India.

Clearly this trend is the result of larger forces and not just the actions of a single company. Aiyer highlights the role of the World Bank in promoting the privatization of water throughout the country that has resulted in multinational companies and wealthy landowners "sidestepping local government bodies and taking direct control of canals
and irrigation schemes." In the case of Plachimada, Coca-Cola has become a symbol for these larger forces at work:

It is little wonder that the struggle by the residents of Plachimada against The Coca-Cola Company, an eminently concentrated form of capital, galvanized so much support in India and elsewhere, and that their struggle has been inspirational and played a significant role in generating opposition to The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo in other rural communities in India facing similar threats from transnational corporations.

While the Kerala plant was temporarily closed due to the popular protest, to this day the Plachimada continue their struggle to receive compensation for contamination and over-exploitation of water resources on their land. Coca-Cola has shifted their operations to other areas of southern India and continues to produce their fizzy drink in a region that regularly faces chronic drought. More than one hundred years since the slogan was first used, "Good Till the Last Drop" continues to have lasting relevance.

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10 Vidarbha farmers commit suicide in three days

Friday, March 12, 2010 08:00 IST
Our Bureau, Mumbai

Ten farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha in the last three days. Of the 10 deaths, six were reported from Yavatmal district – known as the suicide capital of Vidarbha – two from Akola and one each in Nagpur and Washim district, according to Santosh Netam, publicity-in-charge of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an NGO that keeps track of farm suicides in the region.

Nine farmers ended their lives by consuming pesticide while one took a fatal leap into a well, the Samiti said. “The district machinery is geared to rackle the situation arising out of the agrarian crisis. We have also planned to enhance crop loans from Rs 750 crore to Rs 850 crore in the ensuing kharif season,” said Yavatmal Collector Sanjay Deshmukh expressing concern over the spurt in suicides. Agro economist Srinivas Khandewale claimed that almost all farmers in the region were in distress because of crop failure and piling up of unpaid loans from banks as well as private sources.

He said the government should provide food security and employment to farmers under the national rural employment scheme to prevent suicides.

Kishore Tiwari of the VJAS alleged that the government had failed to initiate concrete steps to stop farmers from killing themselves. “The relief packages hardly had any effect on the farmers because a substantial amount of funds was siphoned off by politicians,” Tiwari said. The Prime Minister in 2006 had announced a Rs 3,750-crore relief package for farmers. The state government had also announced a package of Rs 1,075 crore. The administration also distributed 4,675 cattle heads in Yavatmal district alone, but the beneficiaries mainly included leading politicians from the district