In Rajasthan’s Hanumangadh district, peasants have gathered in protest since the last 178 days at the sub-drain of the swamp near the 13th SPD, under the leadership of the Sem Peedhit Kisan Sangathan.
(Note: When the salt under the ground rises to the top on account of seepage (seelan) along canal banks, the waterlogged land becomes unfit for cultivation. It is known as Sem or Swamp).
The peasants are fighting on a 3-point demand: that the responsibility of attending to the problem of marshy lands must be delegated to one department; using a lift at Badopal Dhaab, the marshy land must be drained into the Ghaggar depression; till such time as the marshy land problem is not solved fully, the affected peasants should be paid a compensation of Rs. 20,000 per bigha of land.
Due to waterlogging, thousands of acres of land have turned into marshy lands and close to two lakh people have lost their livelihood. The victims of the waterlogged lands have time and again demanded action; however, whichever government has come to power, it has merely made promises. Based on such promises they have forced the farmers to end their campaign although they have done nothing to solve the problem. They have simply cheated the peasants. This time around, the affected farmers have organised themselves and are determined to carry on their campaign till such time as all three of their demands are met.
All development work has come to a halt in Ravatsar, Peelibanga and Suratgadh districts due to the problem of waterlogging. The farmers have been sitting in the dharna for 178 days but government refuses to take note, even though the Water Resources Minister is from this very district. So far no Minister or high official has held any talks with the farmers. Farmers are very upset at this apathy and have decided to escalate their struggle and have issued an appeal to move to the district headquarters and halt all work there. This bandh has the support of the farmers, workers, traders as well as other sections of the people. After this on 31st March the historical bandh in Rawatsar called by the Sem Peedhit Kisan Sangathan was a grand success. During the bandh thousands of farmers took out a procession and raised slogans against the Rajasthan government. In the afternoon, there was huge public meeting at the rice mandi.
All the speakers strongly condemned the government for not resolving this 40 year old problem. The speakers talked about government formed by different parties but none of them have taken the problem with any seriousness. There have been project worth crores of Rupees but all have failed due to corruption and carelessness. The District Collector has been offering advice to the farmers such as growing bamboos in the marshy land, whereas bamboos don’t grow in marshy lands. He has been fooling the people by sometimes saying that he has sent a proposal of Rs.2400 crores and at other times that he has sent a proposal of Rs.2800 crores. But he neither clarifies which proposal has been sent nor provides a copy of his proposal.
Farmers suffering from waterlogging have challenged the administration and have said they should be taking the views of the farmers and not engineers. Farmers have claimed that they do not need Rs.2400- Rs.2800 crores to solve the problem, but if only Rs.45-50 crores are made available to them, they can resolve the waterlogging problem. But the government is just not interested in resolving the problem!
The public meeting was addressed by State President of Kisan Sangh - Shri Krishna Saharan, ex-MP Shri Bharat Ram Meghwal, ex-MLA Shri Dharmendra Mochi, All India Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan - Shri Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Head of the District Panchayat Samiti - Shri Jayadev Bhidasara] ex-MLA Shri Adaram, District President of Kisan Sangh - Shri Pratap Singh Sunda, District President of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha - Shri Om Jangu, President of Sem Peedhit Kisan Sangathan - Shri Subhaschandra, Engineer - Shri Amilal, Palika President - Shri Tarachand Daliya, Head of Peellibanga Panchayat Samiti - Shri Pemraj Jakhad, SFI District President - Shri Mahanand Khokhar, District President of the Niji Sikshan Sanstha - Shri Sitaram Parikh, District President - Shri Surendra Pachar, President of Vyapaar Mandal - Shri Atmaram Godara, President of the Pesticide Union - Shri Bedprakash Saharan, Shri Jotram Godara, Sarpanch Shri Ramesh Kumar, Shri Dhannaram Godara, Minister of Sem Peedhit Kisan Sangathan - Shri Sanjay Godara, District President of Lok Raj Sangathan and Kisan Leader Shri Hansraj Sharma, Shri Sahabram Puniya, Shri Tarachand Vinod Dharniya, Shri Nandlal, Shri Premraj Beniwal, and others.