Karnataka: Raitha Sangha Plans Agitations During Budget Session
The session was inaugurated by Vasudev Meti (centre in glasses), state president of KRRS.
The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Hagu Hasiru Sene (KRRS) held a committee meeting on June 14 to discuss farmers' issues and to allocate responsibilities to office bearers. The conference was held in Bengaluru, at the Maharashtra Mandal in Gandhinagar. Around 100 members were present, most of whom were office bearers from various districts of Karnataka. Vasudev Meti, the state President of the organisation, chaired the session.
Madiwalappa Gowda from Yadgir complained that shop owners do not provide the bills and overcharge for selling seeds and fertilisers.
Addressing the conference, he said, "Being a farmers' union, we should visit all these shops and make a note of the violations. Only if we can help improve the lives of farmers can we wear the green shawl and call ourselves leaders. When the cotton seeds cost Rs 850, they are being illegally sold at Rs 1300. Wholesalers are refusing to provide a bill of sale for fertilisers. A bag of fertiliser costing Rs 1300 is being sold for Rs 1800. What will happen to farmers if this continues?"
He also spoke about the water shortage and farmers' irrigation problems in north Karnataka.
Addressing the conference, he said, "The Almatti dam is good enough to irrigate five districts. But the desilting work is not happening there (which reduces storage capacity). When the Assembly session starts on July 3, we should organise a big protest at Almatti dam. If we call the Panchayat Development Officer (PDO), he doesn't answer the phone. When we visit the Tahsildar's office, we find that he is absent. To make the state free of corruption, we should be ready to struggle and protest."
Amara Alva from Puttur spoke about the difficulties faced by the Mukkari community (from Kerala) in availing of caste certificates. He also spoke about the difficulties people face in availing of the Aakrama-Sakrama scheme. He also praised the president of the organisation for his intervention in the release of raitha sangha members from jail. They were arrested over a land dispute.
Jayashree from Tumkur spoke about the MSP (minimum support prices) for crops.
"Farmers are not getting a scientific valuation for their crops. If we solve this issue, it will ease the burden on farmers. We are proud that the minister of cooperation is from our district (KN Rajanna of the Congress). He has announced interest-free loans for sums of up to Rs five lakh. Further, he has promised interest rates of 3% for loans up to Rs 20 lakh. We should educate farmers to make use of these facilities. During the time of COVID-19, many farmers were unable to repay loans. They are receiving notices and cases. We should take up their issue and find a solution."
Before concluding her address, she also remarked that the meeting had a large presence and attendance of women leaders. She said that this was a result of the Shakti scheme introduced by Congress (which has made bus travel free for women). She suggested that the scheme be extended to all farmers in the state.
Mahadevi Huyigol from Dharwad lamented the absence of strong farmers' unions in her region.
Addressing the audience, she said, "There was a big agitation in Nargund for the Kalasa Banduri project. However, barring a few exceptions, we don't see many active unions working on behalf of farmers now. As a farmers' union, we should also speak up on behalf of peasants and ensure they get a decent livelihood. Moreover, at a time when farmers are unable to earn a decent price for their crops, we should train women for self-employment. This would enable them to feed their children when times are tough."
The members also expressed concern for the future of farmers' children owing to falling incomes. They also raised the issue of the land reform law passed by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), which removes restrictions on the purchase of agricultural land for non-agricultural use. The Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, was first promulgated as an ordinance during the lockdown. Per Deccan Herald, it was later passed in the legislature with the support of the JD(S). The Raitha Sangha is planning a protest during the first session of the Assembly, which will commence on July 3.
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