Press Note: September 14, 2017
Nationwide Kisan Mukti Yatra coming to South India from Sept. 16th 2017:
25 Farmer Unions and Organizations join hands in Telangana
Curtain-raiser Press Meet at Somajiguda Press Club at 11 am today, addressed by Prof. Kodandaram (Telangana JAC), Sarampally Malla Reddy (All India Kisan Sabha), Vemulapalli Venkatramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha), Kirankumar Vissa (Rythu Swarajya Vedika), Ravi Kanneganti (Telangan Rythu JAC), Ashalatha (Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch), T. Sagar (Telangana Rythu Sangham), Achutha Ramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha), Gurijala Ravinder (Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika), Veeranna (Telangana Rythu Coolie Sangham), P. Shankar (Dalit Bahujan Front), Sajaya (Caring Citizens Collective)
All across the country, we are seeing intense agitations by farmers. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and now in Rajasthan – farmers are coming on to the roads everywhere because they realize that the government policies and failures are behind the crisis in agriculture. On the one hand, the governments have tried to suppress the movements; in Madhya Pradesh, the police firing killed 6 farmers. On the other hand, governments and political parties are also recognizing that their future is at stake unless they are seen supporting the farmers. This is a critical time when farmers across the country should come together and build unprecedented pressure on the Central and state governments.
Kisan Mukti Yatra: In this context, the nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra is being organized. The first phase began in Mandsaur district, Madhya Pradesh at the village where farmers were killed by the police and covered the Western states. It received tremendous response and ended with a large rally in Delhi on July 18th. The second phase of the Yatra will cover South India from September 16th to 23rd – beginning at Hyderabad, going through Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The Yatra is being organized by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) consists of more than 160 farmers’ organizations from across the country. After a long time, so many farmers’ organizations have come onto a common platform and taken up a common public mobilization campaign. The 18-member national working committee includes Sardar V.M. Singh of Rashtriya Mazdoor Kisan Sanghatan, Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, Hannan Mollah of All India Kisan Sabha, Raju Shetty of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatan, Medha Patkar of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Ashish Mittal of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, Dr.Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and Avik Saha of Jai Kisan Andolan. Many other organizations are joining the platform.
The two core demands of the Yatra are “Freedom from Debt for farmers” and “Remunerative Prices for all farmers, with 50% margin above the Cost of cultivation.”
Kisan Mukti Yatra – South India: The Phase-2 of the Yatra in South India will take place from September 16th to 23rd, beginning at Hyderabad. The Yatra will go through Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, ending at Bengaluru on Sept. 23rd. The Telangana program on Sept. 16th is as follows:
8.00am: Press Meet by national leaders at Sundarayya Vigyana Kendram
9.30am-10.30am: Flagging off of Bus Yatra at Gun Park, opposite Assembly
12.30am: Public Meeting at Suryapet
4.30pm: Rally at Khammam
5.30pm: Public Meeting at Khammam
The leaders participating from the national committee include V.M.Singh, Yogendra Yadav, Raju Shetty, Dr.Sunilam, Kavitha Kuruganti and Avik Saha. The key leaders participating in Telangana include Prof.Kodandaram of Telangana JAC, S.Malla Reddy of All India Kisan Sabha, V.Venkatramayya of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Justice Chandrakumar, Ravi Kanneganti of Telangana Rythu JAC, Kirankumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Dr.Rukmini Rao of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, and Achutha Ramarao of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha.
As the Yatra enters South India, it is important to remember that 3 South Indian states are among the top 5 states in the country in farmer suicides – Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Most of South India is reeling from a second successive year of drought. In Tamil Nadu, this is considered as the worst drought situation in more than 100 years. Despite the Supreme Court orders on drought relief, there is a clear failure of the governments to provide substantive relief to the farmers, and most importantly, to protect them from falling into deep debt.
South Indian states also have the highest share of indebted households – 91% in Andhra Pradesh, 89% in Telangana and 82.5% in Tamil Nadu. A large portion of the debt is from informal sources. “Freedom from debt” is definitely a big rallying cry for farmers in all these states. But the farmers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have an important learning to share with the rest of the country –about how not to implement a loan waiver! In both the states, the governments came to power in 2014 with a big promise to waive agricultural loans. However, it turned into a farce because the loan waiver was implemented in 4 installments rather than in one go. Not only is the loan waiver still incomplete, but the farmers had to pay interest on outstanding loans, and most importantly, banks refused to provide fresh loans as per scale of finance to farmers in the past 4 years! So, the farmers had to borrow heavily from private moneylenders.
Hence, when Kisan Mukti Yatra is demanding “Freedom from Debt”, it is not limited to a one-time waiver of bank loans. It is only when private indebtedness is also addressed, and when it is ensured that the farmer doesn’t fall back into debt the next year, does ‘Freedom from Debt’ have a true meaning. For this, a comprehensive “Agricultural Debt Relief Act” should be brought in on the lines of the Act in Kerala, which is being implemented since 2007. Telangana passed a similar law but has not yet implemented it or even framed the rules.
To prevent indebtedness, it is also crucial to provide remunerative prices. Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have recently seen large agitations by chilli farmers whose prices dropped to less than Rs.4000 per quintal. Tur dal farmer suffered last year due to a steep fall in prices from Rs.9000 to Rs.4000 per quintal – triggered by huge imports of dal by the Central government! Kisan Mukti Yatra demands that remunerative prices – as defined by Swaminathan Commission at 50% margin above cost of cultivation – are guaranteed by the government. It is not sufficient to fix Minimum Support Prices. Whenever the price falls below the remunerative price, the government takes the responsibility for either timely market intervention to increase the price, or paying the difference to the farmer as cash payment.
The nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra will culminate in a mega-rally in Delhi on November 20th when the winter session of Parliament begins.
For more details, Contact:
Kirankumar Vissa: 9701705743; T.Sagar: 9490098055; V.Venkatramayya: 8639873720; Ravi Kanneganti: 9912928422;