12 May, 2021

Small, Hard Holdings

Farmers refuse to give up land for industry

Vivek Pateria
Small, Hard Holdings

On the one hand, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who calls himself a ‘kisan ka beta’, wants to earn a following with farmers. On the other hand, he wants to be seen as investor-friendly. But industry needs land; so do farmers. And farmers seem unwilling to give up their land. Whatever the price offered. On November 13, Sunia Bai, a woman farmer from a village in Katni district, to the northeast of the state, committed suicide by setting herself ablaze. She’d received a government notice asking her to vacate her 4.5-acre farmland. It was part of 920 acres being acquired by the government for a 1,320 MW thermal plant being set up by Welspun Energy Ltd.

The woman’s death triggered a chita satyagraha: setting up funeral pyres in their fields, farmers threatened to immolate themselves if their land was taken. Later, a farmer from Katni tried to kill himself by consuming poison. This time, the protests were  violent. In panic, the government sent agriculture minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria to the region. Instead of cooling tempers,...

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