Several people’s movements have emerged in recent times against industrial projects. The reasons behind the protests vary from opposition on environmental grounds to lack of proper compensation for land acquisition. But without doubt, it has always got something to do with protecting livelihood, which the Indian state machinery is hell bent on snatching away from the people.
A protest against a nuclear plant has been brimming for 1000 days now in villages in Uttar Pradesh. Farmers, mostly from SC and OBC communities, in Kachari village had gathered for the 1000th day of the protest against the 1980 MW Karchhana power plant. It was under the Bahujan Samaj Party back in 2007 that the project was first conceived. As much as 2,500 bighas of land was acquired from 2,286 farmers in eight villages, namely Devari, Kachari, Katka-Medhra, Dehli, Dohlipur, Bagesar, Kachara and Bhitar. But once the project was handed over to Jaypee group in 2009, violent protests from the farmers erupted and it got stalled.
While some of the farmers had accepted compensation, more than a hundred reportedly had refused it at the onset. Now, almost all the farmers are refusing to part with their land. Instead, they want compensation for the loss incurred due to damage to land. The impasse is compounded as the farmers are in no position (and mood) to return the money for compensation.
The police and local petty politicians have first tried to bribe them, but when it did not work, they started using goons and threatened the farmers with dire consequences. The farmers have maintained that the lands are fertile and they don’t want anything but the project scrapped. But living under constant threat has taken a toll on them, as they are often afraid of cultivating the fields fearing attacks.
Despite Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s promises that all the charges against the farmers will be withdrawn, no such action has been taken.
Women in Karchanna Protest
Photo Courtesy: Brijesh Jaiswal / The Hindu
Not only that, one of the reasons the farmers did not want to give away land included their worries over not being able to give land as dowry!
This is indeed the dilemma in India, where the capitalist structure is in a comfortable co-existence with feudal values.
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