More than a thousand farmers from all over the country thronged the protest space at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on Monday as the Jai Kisan rally finally arrived here.
Jai Kisan Andolan, which is a part of Yogendra Yadav’s and Prashant Bhushan’s Swaraj Abhiyan, saw farmers from various states including, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc gather at Jantar Mantar to let the government know of their anger.
“The essence of Jai Kisan Andolan is to fight for the rights of the farmers. We will not let the farmers’ homes be destroyed,” former AAP member and the founding member of Swaraj Abhiyan, Yogendra Yadav summed up the totality of the moment from the stage. The number of farmers present and hundreds of pots filled with soil as a token of support from those absent did give an authority to Yadav’s words.
The Jai Kisan rally which kicked off on August 1 from Barnala, Punjab with more than five thousand farmers, travelled through Punjab, Haryana and eastern Uttar Pradesh before entering Delhi through Gurgaon, after facing a minor debacle with the police on the border.
Farmers with as diverse problems as better irrigation facilities to compensation for crop failure due to heavy rain found a common platform through the Jai Kisan Movement to raise their voice.
“There have been more than 1,100 farmer deaths in Telangana over the last year but the government is refusing to acknowledge that. We want the government to accept the problem and do something about it,” said Navin from Telangana.
“We want the government to provide muavza (compensation) to those who have suffered due to the heavy rains,” demanded excited Gurmeet Singh from Haryana.
“Bhumi adhiveshan nahi hona chahiye (There shouldn’t be land acquisition)” said a confused farmer from Rajasthan.
“Indian political set up is not looking into the rights, justice and dignity of the farmers. Swaraj Movement will consolidate all agrarian agitation, all problems of the farmers. The nation cannot progress unless the farmers progress. Without them, the idea of India as a superpower is a joke,” said Pankaj Pushkar, AAP MLA from Timarpur and a supporter of Swaraj Abhiyan.
While each section of farmers hailing from different states had different sets of problems, an undercurrent of suspicion and frustration with the present government ran though everyone’s grievances.
Although the involvement of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan can be deemed a political joomla given their history, the farmers who swarmed to the national capital with anger in one eye and hope in the other are clear signs that the Modi government has much to worry about.
In a country that suffers from water scarcity all year, farmers in the villages of Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh have come up with ingenious solutions for rainwater harvesting to address the issue.
While water shortage has been the bane of Salichauka village for long, a local farmer, Manoj Rai, has devised a solution not only to tackle the issue but also to find a way to manage excess rain water and use it to recharge water sources. To do this, he used waste material to channel the water to borewells and dry wells using a pipeline network.
Rai said the village was infamous for facing water scarcity. Such is his understanding of the gravity of the problem that he expounded that the 3rd World War would be fought over water and that several cities like Cape Town and Shimla are already on the verge of a Day-Zero situation.
He added that everyone can come up with their own technique for water harvesting without spending extra money and if every farmer did his bit towards redirecting excess water to recharge the groundwater, the future generations too will have water.
After Rai’s solution came to the limelight, other farmers also started adopting it and the water level has reportedly risen, the villagers claim. They believe this will help them during the summers too.
A resident of the village Kaluram Patel said he adopted the technique after he saw several other villagers using it.
He said they have witnessed a rise in water level and the tube wells now have water which would help him grow multiple crops in a year.
Similarly, in the rocky terrains of Bilguwa village, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the farmers to procure water for their crops when Monu Pathak, a local farmer, devised a solution to conserve water.
Pathak said he constructed a model to recharge the groundwater level. He pointed out that it is extremely important to look for methods to save water when half of the country is facing water shortage and the rest facing floods. He also urged the residents of the village to employ such methods in their houses or farms.
Sushil Kumar, a resident of Bilguwa, said the technique employed by Pathak is easy to operate.
He said if every farmer were to utilise rainwater harvesting techniques, the water level would witness a significant rise and would solve the water crisis in the village.
Agricultural scientists claimed that the crops in the region were getting affected by the declining groundwater level and commended the efforts by the farmers to address the water crisis.
Rajesh Tripathi, Deputy Director at the district agriculture department, pointed out the irregular pattern of rains that the region has witnessed.
He said that if water is being continuously pumped using tube wells or sprinkler pump, the water sources are going to keep depleting.
If we can find a way for the rainwater to replenish the water table directly, farmers would benefit from it, he said.
While commending the efforts taken by the farmers of Bilguwa and Salichauka, he added that efforts are being taken to educate the farmers about the importance of adopting such techniques to recharge any water source in their vicinity. (IANS)