Skip to main content

Bihar farmers along Kosi embankment up in arms: Demand end of all taxation, levy on sand, silt, any produce

By Our Representative
An 11-day-long march along the villages of Kosi river in Bihar, under the banner of Lagan Mukti Kosi Samvaad Yatra, which concluded on the World Environment Day, June 5, highlighted how the natural flow of the river has been "obstructed" because of the embankments on both the sides the river, supposedly as a flood control measure, pointing towsrds how it has caused havoc to the farmers.
Participated among others by Raman Magsaysay Awardee and renowned social activist Dr Sandeep Pandey, who flagged off the yatra, and environmentalist Ranjeev, apart from local social workers and civil society activists, the awareness campaign highlighted that there has been large-scale siltation over the farmers' land lying between the two embankments, making agriculture impossible.
It was pointed out that land is cultivable only half the time of the year when there is no flood, adding, a large number of farmers and workers were affected and displaced by the construction of the embankment, who were never fully compensated for the same. Yet they are made to pay tax and levy on the sand, silt, and any produce.
It was also suggested that there has been a downfall in the productivity and fertility of the land. The farm produce is continually ruined due to sudden flooding and silting. Yet there is no support to farmers from the government for any of the losses; hence to make any claims by the government is not only unjust but completely against the notions of any welfare.
Organised by the Kosi Navnirman Manch, the yatra was concluded on the at Bairiya Manch in Supaul, where environmentalist Ranjeev said, “Along with the World Environment Day, it also happens to be the Sampoorn Kranti Divas, and the place is also historic, where the foundation of the embankment was led long back."
He added, "The questions raised by the yatra for freedom from unjust taxes and cess imposed on people living between the two embankments are immensely close to the heart of the people, and a united struggle is the only way out. The struggle is for people but as much as for the river Kosi, since we have created the miseries for people over the years in name of technological fixes.”
The yatra started on May 26 from Kunali, a place situated between the embankments of the Kosi River. According to the environmentalist, the constructing an embankment on the highest silt-carrying river in the world is bound to fail and cause havoc.
He lamented the fact that the displaced and affected farmers didn’t get any land or rehabilitation and rather have been burdened with continued tax and cess on the farming they do on the land when its not submerged. The people of the Kosi region have raised this question over the years, but what it requires is a sustained struggle.
Mahendra Yadav, national convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements, who led the yatra, while moderating the programme, put forward a detailed strategy for future actions and united struggle. To facilitate the struggle, a 31-members' coordination committee was formed. The demands put forward included freedom from tax or cess levied on the land between the two embankments and return the ownership of their land the farmers.
Dialogue, discussions, street plays and pamphleteering were organized all through the yatra. Farmers were asked to write to the Chief Minister with an appeal to abolish the tax and cess and to provide them ownership titles of the land they till. It was also suggested to pass resolutions with the demands for abolition of taxes by the Gram Sabhas and Ward Sabhas.
Many Mukhiyas and members of the ward sabha supported the idea and assured passage of the same. Yatra received widespread support from the people and pledge for long term and united struggle against this injustice.
The historic Kosi embankment breach at Kusaha in 2008 hit five districts, 35 blocks, 231 Panchayats, 1067 villages, 33.97 lakh people and 8.32 lakh animals. Floodwater had spread over 4.153 laklh hectares of land of which 1.76 lakh hectare was cropped. It destroyed 2,44,128 houses, engulfed 736 villages, killed 540 people and 31,995 animals.
There are 380 Indian villages within the Kosi embankments, apart from 34 Nepali villages. They were given rehabilitation on the country side of the embankments but no 'land for land' principle was adopted for them. They were supposed to live in the rehabilitation sites and cultivate their land located within the embankments.
Dr. Dinesh Kumar Mishra of Barh Mukti Abhiyaan, an authority on the river network of North Bihar, says, "This was an absurd proposition and did not work. The average spacing between the two embankments of the Kosi is about 10 kilometers and that gives some idea of what distance a farmer had to travel everyday during the crop season to reach his fields and come back."
"Besides", he adds, "The rehabilitation site got water logged subsequently as the free flowing rainwater that used to join the Kosi got stuck on the country side of the embankments and waterlogged most of the rehabilitation sites. The displaced farmers found it convenient to move back to their original villages and that is where most of them are today."
According to him, "Their population may not be less that 1.5 million, in any case. The Kosi entrapped between the two embankments mauls these villages almost every year with no one to look after the inhabitants. Sometimes, relief is given to them and sometimes the government takes a stand that they are living in wrong place as they were given rehabilitation."

Comments

TRENDING

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

Kailash Satyarthi NGO floats new centre in Delhi to 'empower' underprivileged children

By Our Representative  A voluntary organisation linked with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported NGO has floated a unique children’s resource centre at Sanjay Camp, Chankyapuri, New Delhi, in order to facilitate in imparting remedial education, recreational training and holistic development of children of around 2,500 under-privileged slum-dwelling families. Virender Singh Kadian, MLA of Delhi Cantonment, inaugurated the centre, which is called Shaheed Kalu Bal Vikas Kendra. The resource centre is in memory of Kalu Kumar, who died at an young age serving and working towards the development of under-privileged children, said an NGO source. A firebrand activist, Kalu Kumar was trafficked from Bihar to the carpet manufacturing belt of Allahabad when he was six. He was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan at the age of 10. A bright student, Kalu he covered up the lost ground very quickly and grew up to become a leader fighting for the rights of other child slaves at Bal Ashram. In

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Multi-crore NRC updation scam? Awaited: Assam media's self-cleaning mechanism

By Nava Thakuria  If some editor-journalists are allegedly involved in a financial scam, shouldn't the people get an opportunity to identify them? As the mainstream newspapers and news channels of Assam are avoiding the issue in their coverage, how come the actual picture will come to the public domain? If the mainstream media outlets intentionally kill the news, reasons best known to the editors, should the social media users take a lead? By now a number of senior journalists (with experience in print journalism for many decades) have highlighted the issue in social media. Their message is loud and clear- identify the corrupt television journalists who grabbed a huge amount of money which is actually meant for thousands of Assamese professionals. It all began when a second first information report (FIR) was filed by the outgoing State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) against his predecessor alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the 1951 NRC in A

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Grossly inadequate': NREGA allocation 0.29% of GDP, World Bank recommended 1.6%

By Rajiv Shah  A civil society tracker, seeking to periodically analyse the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that NREGA budgetary allocation is only 0.29% of GDP and 1.85% of the total government expenditure of the financial year 2022-23, which is grossly inadequate. Thus, “As per estimates of researchers of the World Bank, for NREGA to run robustly, its allocation must at least be 1.6% of the GDP.” Prepared by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of activists, academics and members of people’s organizations, who came together to advocate for NREGA in 2004 in order to catalyse discussion and strengthen the top Government of India rural jobs guarantee scheme, the tracker states, the NREGA budget as percentage of the total government expenditure has also decreased -- it stands at 1.85% for FY 2022-23, just about half the level in FY 2020-21 (3.65%). The tracker, titled “Meagre Funds and Unlawfully Low Wages: How

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training