The Odisha police have called in heavy reinforcements and are moving into positions all evening around the villages of Dhinkia and Gobindpur in Jagatsinghpur District of Odisha state. These villages form the epicentre of over 6 years of successful peaceful resistance to the scandalous POSCO steel-mining-power-port project – the world’s largest. This project is being pushed through by Odisha and Indian Governments in blatant violation of fundamental rights and a variety of environmental and economic laws of India.

According to confirmed sources within the Odisha establishment, the attack on this peaceful resistance is more than likely early morning tomorrow, if the police do not unleash terror overnight. The resilient people of these villages including women, children, elders, youth and men are holding overnight vigils along the borders of their villages now and will stay so till the police withdraw.

An alarming aspect of such abuse of police powers is that over 26 platoons of police have been mobilised around these villages over the past two weeks. Such heavy police presence betrays the Odisha Government’s claims that the acquisition of land for the project is peaceful.

The current Senior Police Officer in charge of the operation is the former Superintendent of Police of Kalinganagar, who had ordered firing on villagers protesting the Tata Steel plant, killing many tribals and injuring scores more. Under this officer’s ruthless leadership, the Odisha police has effectively declared an emergency on the resisting villages, completely halting normal life over the past several weeks. It is more than likely now that a needless carnage will result because of the such strong arm tactics of the police.

On behalf of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi (PPSS), this urgent release is being made requesting your earliest attention to this impending disaster.

For more details about the ground situation, please contact:

Prashant Paikray, Spokesperson, PPSS: Cell: 09437571547prashantpaikray@gmail.com

Ranjan Swain of PPSS: Cell: 09178643193


Do we need a second green revolution after four decades?

April 27, 2011   8:30:50 AM

Prescience or perceptual percipience of pathetic predicament of the peasantry could have propelled the authority to pull them out from the pernicious penury. Preposterous perception and perfunctory implementation of policies couldn’t read the presage writ large for the pro-rata increase in woes of the peasants. The perplexing prattles and prophesies without delving deep into the cause of precarious position of peasantry have made our pithy postulates look helpless.

The resultant paradoxical position is that while we profess for progress and present a picture of advanced agriculture and improved socio-economic conditions of the farmers, but at the same time we are facing the prang as the field realities have not been properly perceived. As such, the agriculture sector with a majority of small and marginal farmers has borne the burnt, and wilting under the pressure from global competitors, burden of bank borrowing and unfavourable climatic conditions. Lastly, the poor peasant has to fight against the onslaught on agricultural lands by the propertied estate developers for perpetration of the concrete juggles on agricultural lands.

Presumptions, however accurate they may be, cannot predicate a pragmatic procedural solution. The causes of the resultant precipitation of present predicament of the peasantry are to be found out first. Over dependence on monsoon, lack of irrigation facilities, heavy burden of debt, escalation of prices of pesticides and fertilisers, competition from global market as a result of globalisation, excessive dependence on paddy cultivation and negligible production of alternative crops and the lack of backward and forward linkages sometimes resulting in sale of the produce in a low rate have prompted the peasantry to proliferate the propensity of despair.

Each point mentioned in the preceding paragraph if analysed and explained would be as lengthy as research paper. But for brevity, the prominent yet perturbing cause which should be pummelled first is the overdependence of agriculture sector and the vagaries of monsoon. Whereas in case of Punjab above ninety-five per cent of cultivable land is irrigated, in Odisha the total area under any kind of assured irrigation system is very less. That leaves the peasantry under the claws of perpetual uncertainties. The need of the hour is creation of irrigation potential through various practical ways, starting from euphemistic proposal of joining major rivers to creation of small water reservoirs with canalisation of water potential and every effort in this regard would be laudable. Even the not so successful concept of lift irrigation in our State maybe given a second thought because there is no alternative to this method in dry areas and this method has taken Punjab to the pinnacle of success in agriculture sector. The other problems besetting the farmers are heavy debt burden, the escalating cost of fertilizers and pesticides and non-availability at the proper moment and supply of quality seeds for cultivation of the crops in time. These prominent points need no further explanation but need a serious consideration by the secretary agriculture department to profess support to apparently shaken peasantry in a paradigm shift of approach.

The scope and profitability of alternate and multiple cropping should be explained to farmers even through demonstration in the fields of rich peasants in their locality. The apprehension associated with these cropping methods in the mind of cultivators regarding marketability of these produces should be allayed. The concept of backward and forward linkages or in a plain way leaving these high sounding jargons, the marketing support and the concept of support price should be extended to primary cultivators. Though the authorities declare support prices for the major crops but the important thing is that the benefit should reach the cultivators. Without marketing support, development of growth centers, krushak bazaars the poverty-stricken peasantry would find it difficult to come out from the present position and without the supports poor peasants should not be exposed to experimentations with regard to alternate and rotational cropping methods, etc.

The present situations emerging out of globalisation are not very conducive for Indian farmers and especially the farmers of Odisha and have set the precognition of a situation of global competition even in food products, and, therefore, preparation to save and equip the farmers to face the unavoidable situations should become the prime most thing in the agenda of the Secretary of the Agriculture Department. The fragile financial condition of the farmers for varied reasons portrayed in the previous paragraphs cannot sustain the jolt because of this economic imbroglio precipitated by globalisation and global competitions. A firm support in various fronts should be provided to this community to prepare, face and survive and succeed even in the global competitive arena. Even we can also strengthen and develop the agricultural produce export policy to pronounce our arrival in global scene.

At the macro level, the Indian agricultural sector and at the medium and micro level, Odisha’s agriculture sector need a little pampering and pat from the authority as agriculture is still our mainstay. Do we need a second green revolution after about four decades?

— The writer is a senior IAS officer

Farmers suicide: 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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Farmer suicide rate: 5 a week

Sanjeev Kumar Patro

 BHUBANESWAR: The bane of farmers’ suicides has taken Orissa in its vice-like grip with five ending their lives in every seven days. The trend has grown by over six per cent in 2008 as the State has climbed the ladder at a notoriously fast pace to rank 12th of the 28 states with most farmer deaths, the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau has revealed. The growth is over 40 per cent for the males with 245 taking the extreme step against 170 in 2007. Farmer suicides constitute a significant 5.3 per cent of the total 4,904 suicide cases in Orissa. The year 2008 has assumed significance against the backdrop of the mega loan waiver scheme offered by the Centre. Though nationally the total number of suicides by farmers has dipped, an upward trend is noticed in states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, AP, MP, Rajasthan, UP, TN and Gujarat. What is of concern is that most farmer deaths in Orissa have not been of those involved in cash crop cultivation but majorly paddy growers. The rise in suicides when seen through a recent report `Combined Finances of Union and State Governments’ brings to the fore some farreaching conclusions. All the States that have registered a rise except Chattisgarh have a very poor per capita expenditure on agriculture. And, except West Bengal all other states that recorded a fall have a very high per capita expenditure on agriculture. As per the report, the expenditure on agriculture in 2007-08 in Orissa was Rs 890 crore with per capita expenditure of Rs 224 only. The per capita spending of Orissa is only 0.8 times of the national per capita spending on agriculture. Spending on pure agriculture activities like crop husbandry, R&D and other agri-programmes for the same period stood at Rs 315 crore only. Orissa’s per capita spending is even below that of the north-eastern states. According to Farmers Commission, there is a serious lapse in the Government’s policy towards farmers in Orissa. It finds that 94 per cent operational holdings in Orissa is below four hectare and currently no improved implements are used in farming there. Only 0.5 per cent of the holdings covering only 6.35 per cent of the cultivable area have tractors, power tillers, pumps and sprayers. The Commission urged the Government to declare a mechanical package entailing provisioning of ergonomically improved bullock drawn and manual tools and introduction of mechanised power tillers, self-propelled reapers, transplanters and tractors on custom hiring basis to address the falling costs per holding. The input subsidy offered by the Orissa Government on mechanised farm inputs would not ameliorate the problem, as suicides are mostly committed by farmers owning below 4 hectares land

Farmer couple writes to president, demands mercy killing of four sons


August 28th, 2009

NEW DELHI – The farmer couple Jeetnarayan and wife of Prabhawati living in Bashi village of Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh have written to the President of India seeking permission for mercy killing of their four sons aged between 10 and 16 years.

The brothers are suffering from an affliction caused by muscular dystrophy, leaving them to lead a life in a vegetative state.

The four children, Durgesh, 16, Sarvesh, 14, Brijesh, 11, and Suresh, 10, were afflicted with the disease when they turned five.

Children cannot even stand on their feet, move their body below the neck, and have to rely on their parents’ for every daily activity.

Jeetnarayan has sold everything of financial value in his house to foot the hefty sums spent for the children’s treatment.

“Now we are very tired as we just take care of them day and night. There is no time to work even to earn our living. Then we submitted an application to the Prime Minister and also chief of the state. But there was no hearing to our plight. No one came to our door. It’s better for the entire family to die rather than live in such a miserable state,” said Jeetnarayan

“We wanted treatment to be done. But it’s not happening anywhere. We don’t have any other option, we are very poor and there is no way to go. We wanted them to be treated but that’s not happening anywhere and no treatment can be done. So it’s better that we die,” said Prabhawati.

Indian laws do no permit euthanasia or mercy killing. (ANI)

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‘Raigad votes against SEZ in referendum’


Mumbai, Sept. 22 A majority of people in the 22 villages in Raigad district have voted against the SEZ in the referendum process which was held on Sunday, claimed Mr N.D. Patil, senior leader of Peasants and Workers Party of India, who is spearheading the agitation.

The State Government is likely to announce the result of the referendum in next 15 days.

The promoters of Maha Mumbai SEZ, which includes promoters of Reliance Industries Ltd, want to set up 10,000 hectares SEZ in the district.

SEZ is expected to attract an investment of nearly Rs 40,000 crore and generate 20 lakh jobs.

Mr Patil said that although the Maharashtra Government has undertaken the referendum process, it is not necessary that the report would be tabled any time in the near future.

“When under pressure, the State Government acts in a circular manner.

“The report could be further handed over to a committee, which will take the further circuitous route,” he said.

Mr Patil said that the people of the district do not want SEZ and no amount of compensation from the corporate houses and government will change their view about selling their land.

A senior official in the industries department said that in the eventuality of referendum going against the promoters of the SEZ, the land acquisition process for the other mega projects and SEZs in the State will suffer.

“We will not be mute spectators; we are also prepared for a court battle,” Mr Patil said.

Raigad villagers participate in referendum on Reliance project
21 Sep, 2008, 1717 hrs IST, IANS


PEN/MUMBAI: Thousands of villagers around Pen area in Maharashtra’s Raigad district Sunday took part in a referendum to decide the fate of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group’s proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
District Collector Vinayak Nipun and Superintendent of Police Pradeep Digavkar were present to monitor the referendum – the country’s first on an industrial project – even as a huge security blanket covered Pen, around 150 km from Mumbai, a police official told IANS.
Residents of 22 villagers who will be affected by the Reliance Group’s mega-project came out in substantial numbers to give their verdict on the SEZ.
During the referendum, a small group of people at one village opposed to the project and raised anti-Reliance and anti-government slogans.
Around 10,000 farmers from these villages are reluctant to part with 3,415 hectares of land for the project, touted to be Asia’s largest.
Through the referendum, the district administration is ascertaining their views and recording their statements, which will be forwarded to the state government.
The villagers’ sentiments shall be taken into consideration before deciding whether the proposed Rs.400-billion (Rs.40,000-crore) project can come up in that region or not.
A district official said the outcome of Sunday’s referendum may be available only by early October.
The Reliance SEZ is slated to come up over 10,000 hectares in Pen, Uran and Panvel sub-districts of Raigad. However, the group has faced stiff resistance from the people of Pen, necessitating the referendum.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena executive president Udhav Thackeray has offered to secure a better financial deal for farmers willing to sell their land for the SEZ.
He made the offer to a delegation of villagers that called on him in Mumbai two days ago and conveyed the sentiments of the local population regarding the SEZ.