Thousands of members of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan gathered in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh in support of farmers’ country-wide movement against the central government’s new farm laws and the proposed Electricity Bill, 2020 on December 9, 2020.
As part of their protest, they also sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, the Union Agriculture Minister, the Chief Minister and similar officials regarding problems related to electricity, fertilizers, ration, crop insurance, education and employment of farmers.
The memorandum demanded the repeal of the three agriculture laws – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – and the Electricity Bill 2020.
“Instead of taking the access of mandi systems to small and non-leased farmers for proper crop prices, these laws are bypassing mandis and handing over farmers to traders and companies. Farmers and customers will both be exploited if all restrictions are removed,” they said.
Regarding the Electricity Bill, members said that the policy hands over government power distribution to private companies while charging farmers at desired prices. They argued that the new policies will enable corporates to buy farmland at cheap prices and hire labourers at cheaper rates.
Referring to the National Farmers Commission in 2007, Adivasi farmers called for more markets in rural areas in accordance with the Commission recommendation of 3,850 mandis as opposed to 567 mandis in the state.
Further, they said that farmers should be ensured one and a half times the entire cost of the 24 procurement crops as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.
“The declaration of Minimum Support Price should be made in May month for Kharif crops and in September month for Rabi crops and these prices should be listed in every mandi premises,” they said.
Speaking about government responsibility, they said that the government should compensate farmers in the event of crop loss and offer monthly free ration as per the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana until the end of the pandemic. The organisation also brought up the problem of fertiliser procurement which has become a significant problem for local farmers.
“Under the Employment Guarantee Act, the minimum number of days of employment on a job card should be increased from 100 to 200 days and the wage of the day (including all expenses like education, health of workers) should be increased from Rs. 190 to Rs. 600,” they said.
In the same vein, they condemned the state government for leasing over 40 percent of forest area to companies that are rightfully the property of tribals as per the Forest Rights Act. They demanded such actions be stopped immediately. Members also requested government officials to open schools in rural areas rather than continuing online education.
“Today, approximately 1 lakh teachers’ posts are vacant in state government schools. Basic school facilities required under the Right to Education Act 2009 are not available in state schools. We demand that these posts be filled immediately,” they said.
Further, locals requested for separate rooms per class in every school with individual teachers for each subject. As per the Right to Education they also demanded toilets, libraries, laboratories, sports grounds and boundary walls in every school.
The full memorandum is shown below: