Karnataka: Farmers Release Charter Of Demands Ahead Of Assembly Elections

The Charter of Demands was presented to the major political parties of Karnataka, JDS and Congress, whose leadership were invited to and attended the Panchayat.

Farmers Press Conference

Samyukta Kisan Morcha and prominent state level farmers organisations of Karnataka today organised Samyukta Kisan Panchayat at Bangalore which was attended by over 200 farmer leaders and activists from more than 20 organisations. Senior national leaders of SKM, Shri Hannan Mollah, Shri Yogendra Yadav, Smt. Kavitha Kuruganti and Shri Avik Saha addressed the Panchayat.

The Panchayat began with a homage ceremony to Martyred Farmers who have sacrificed their lives in various struggles of farmers to get their rights and dues.

The Panchayat began with a homage ceremony to Martyred Farmers

With the increase of corporate control over agriculture, land is being snatched from farmers, employment guarantee has also been reduced, and farmers are finding themselves steeped in debt. While none of the previous governments have provided relief to farmers in their ever-deepening distress, the last four years of the BJP government has taken the situation of Karnataka farmers into a deeper downward spiral. The BJP government has taken up several anti-farmer measures such as passing the Land Reforms (Amendment) Act and the APMC Amendment Act despite widespread farmer opposition. For the past two years, farmers’ organisations had put up a united resistance and joint struggles against these anti-farmer approaches, but the BJP government did not even show the courtesy of calling them for a dialogue.

It is in this background, where agriculture has been battered and farmers are left as a deeply-worried lot, that elections are being held. SKM and the farmers’ alliances have put forward the following demands before all the political parties in the election fray in the upcoming elections, especially the major parties like BJP, Congress and JD(S). Farmers’ organisations have asked that these political parties address the following demands and solutions placed by farmers through steadfast commitment, by incorporating them in their Manifestos immediately and by specifying their stand on all of them through public statements and commitments.

 

Read Also: Farmer Organisations Condemn Govt Reduction of Wheat Procurement Price

The 15 key demands of the farming community are as follows:

1. The anti-farmer laws enacted by the BJP government in 2019-2020, such as the Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, the APMC Amendment Act and the ‘Prevention of Cattle Slaughter Act’ should be repealed as soon as the new government is formed.

2. Electricity supply and services should not be privatised. The power subsidy given to the farmers should continue. Even if the central government brings in a law on privatisation of the sector, the state should fight for its constitutional authority in this sphere for pro-farmer and pro-citizen policy making.

Farmers
3. A new law to legally guarantee the realisation of remunerative prices by all farmers for all agricultural commodities should be enacted. The reports of KAPC under the Chairpersonship of Dr Prakash Kammardi should be debated with the farmers’ organisations, revised as needed, approved and implemented.

4. Farmers should be adequately compensated for the various losses being suffered due to numerous disasters through effective disaster relief and crop insurance mechanisms set up by the government. A fund of at least Rs.10,000 crores should be kept available at all times to deal with the farmers’ crop losses from natural disasters.

5. The state government should enact an effective “Farmers’ freedom from Indebtedness Act”, to ensure that the farmers and agricultural workers do not experience distress under the weight of debts and commit suicides due to agricultural losses. The government should also waive off all outstanding farm loans of farmers given that the government policies are the main reason for such losses incurred by farmers. Further, farmers who do not have land titles but are actual cultivators should also be entitled to avail the institutional agricultural loans.

6. Women farmers in all farm suicide families should be issued ID cards for proper rehabilitation of the families, and all outstanding debt should be waived off so that the families can start their lives afresh.

7. Bagair Hukum lands should be allotted to poor tillers with immediate effect. The plots of houses built by the poor on government lands should be allotted to them immediately. A policy should be declared and implemented for proper housing for every family. Housing should be the first priority for allotment of government land. The high-level committee set up by the government in 2018 but made defunct by the BJP government, should be re-constituted and policy implemented.

8. Arbitrary distribution of government lands to companies, politicians, powerful people, institutions and ashrams / religious entities should be stopped. The land being transferred from the forest department to the revenue department should not be diverted to planters / plantation houses. It should be reserved and allotted to dependent families and landless households. The amendments brought in by the BJP government to the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act (LARR) 2013 should be scrapped. No land should be acquired against the wishes of farmers. Even if the government acquires land due to unavoidable reasons, the ownership of the farmers should not be cancelled and regular income should be made available to the farmer’s family.

9. There should be proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006, in full letter and spirit. No forest dependent families should be evicted on any pretext which are, in fact, only anti-people schemes or reports or projects, or a result of lack of proper implementation of FRA 2006.

10. The NREGA scheme should be strengthened and implemented in full measure, in the most friendly and accessible manner possible for the workers in the scheme. A welfare board should be appointed for the development and social security of agricultural labourers.

11. Pending irrigation projects should be completed immediately and projects like Yettinahole, Mekedatu etc. should be implemented.

12. The Karnataka government should stop promoting hazardous technologies in agriculture (toxic pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms), to protect the health of ecosystems, producers and consumers. Corporate takeover of seeds through GM technology should be stopped and farmers’ seed sovereignty upheld.

13. Farming communities of Karnataka have been peace-loving, and take pride in the harmonious social fabric of the state, irrespective of caste, ethnicity and religion. One of the key demands of farmers is therefore against Hate Politics disrupting our society, and destroying our frail livelihoods.

14. Farmers also seek a corruption-free government, where governance related to agriculture is transparent and fair with the involvement of farmers in policy formulation and decision-making processes along with all regulations in favour of farmers to primarily protect the interests of farmers and not corporates.

15. On several matters pertaining to agriculture, farmers demand that the state government ensure its constitutional authority over the subject, and resist any takeover by the Union Government.

SKM has also added a special immediate demand: The state government should immediately drop the anti-farmer measures of merging Nandini with Amul or allowing Amul to compete with Nandini in Karnataka. Nandini is a conglomeration of more than 15 thousand Milk producers’ cooperatives involving more than 60 lakh farmers’ families. The government should not venture to help the giant corporate company of Ambani.

The Charter of Demands was presented to the major political parties of Karnataka, JDS and Congress, whose leadership were invited to and attended the Panchayat. Though invited, leadership of BJP did not turn up. The leaders of political parties gave solemn promise to include the farmers demands in their election manifestos.

In view of the upcoming Karnataka Assembly Elections where anti-farmer BJP is a major contestant, the Panchayat discussed the role that can and should be played by farmers organisations and after detailed discussion and deliberation, a unanimous clarion call to Defeat anti-farmer, anti-people communal BJP in the upcoming polls was given. All organisations agreed to take this message to the grassroots level through door-to-door campaign and other means of communication.

The Kisan Panchayat was attended by many farmer leaders including Shri GC Bayyareddy of KPRS, Badagalapura Nagendra of KRRS, HR Basavarajappa of KRRS, Deepak Lamba of Jai Kisan Andolan, Dr Prakash Kammaradi (veteran agriculture scientist), Shri Noor Sridhar of Karnataka Janashakthi.

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