(VIDEO) Rs 15 Cheque - thats how UP Govt helps Bundelkhand farmers

(VIDEO) Cheque out how UP helps farmers

Bundelkhand: It may look like a joke, but the Uttar Pradesh government has issued Rs 15, Rs 29 and Rs 55 cheques, as compensation to destitute farmers in Bundelkhand.

The irony - no bank encashes cheques less than Rs 100.

"The bank officials returned the cheques to us. They asked us to renew the cheques worth Rs 26, Rs 52, Rs 11 and Rs 10,” says Laloo, a resident of Pandui village in Banda.

Bundelkhand, the land of historic temples, diamond mines and the valiant Lakshmi Bai is now witnessing a desperate fight.

It has been reeling under severe drought for the last four years. The worst hit areas include Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jhansi and Jalaun.

Barren fields and starving families have driven more than three hundred farmers to take their lives. A farmer, Chunbud Ali even dug up his own grave, a week before he committed suicide.

The time might have been enough for the administration to have stepped in, but they have remained oblivious.

"The criterion for drought relief is the area of one's land. But since I haven't seen the cheques, so I don't know,” says District Magistrate of Banda, Prabhudayal Srinivas.

Farmers complain the local irrigation department has categorically refused to give them water. And neither the state nor the central government is doing anything about the situation.

The Prime Minister’s visit and Maharashtra’s farmers getting more than half a thousand crores of relief was the work of media hype, they say.

However, they have been left to die in misery. And all they can afford to leave their children in the twenty first century India is a legacy of debt and poverty.

(with inputs from Anand Mohan Srivastav in Bundelkhand)




CNN-IBN Blog: Seeking revenge in death

Call it whatever you may but the only way the farmers of Banda district in Uttar Pradesh can take their revenge from the system is by dying. And dying they are. Some by committing suicide and some due to starvation. Also, many have sought help from an ever obliging tuberculosis. For in death these farmers see redemption of their pride.

Not to take away any credit from the socialist Uttar Pradesh government headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav though. He calls himself a farmer's son and also aspires to make Uttar Pradesh the 'uttam pradesh' (best state) of our country.

What better way to make Uttar Pradesh the best state of the country than dancing with Bollywood starlets even as farmers in some remote corner fight a loosing battle with the system.

The fight is with the system because no one can fight with nature. The entire Bundelkhand region is reeling under a severe drought for the past four years now. The average rainfall may have dropped only by a few centimeters but the timing of the rains has been such that it has damaged the crop rather than nurture it. This year the government does not want to declare the region as drought affected for than one would have to dole out some compensation to the farmers as was done in 2003 and 2004. And what was the compensation that was given to the farmers two years back: Cheques ranging from Rs four to Rs 100 depending upon the landholding of the farmer.

So the authorities in their full wisdom decided to dole out cheques of as low as Rs four as compensation to the damage caused to the crop by lack of rains.

And this is how the damage was assessed: A state government official went to the affected areas, sat under some tree and saw the crop standing in the fields. The damage was what he assessed as the crop was standing. The farmers, however, had chosen not to cut the same as it did not bear fruit. So the damage caused to the crop was worth Rs four even though animals refused to eat it. Also there were the compensation rules that provided for a slightly better deal for irrigated land. So it was the fault of the hapless farmers that they could not dig a bore-well or did not have some canal passing through the area.

You ask any UP government official about the logic behind issuing such cheques in the name of compensation and they immediately take refuge behind the system. "The system has definite rules for compensation and the rules have been there since pre independence days. And no one has bothered to change the rules," is the most common argument put forth.

So what is this system, who makes it, for whom is it meant and who can change it?

The farmers of the Bundelkhand region are certainly not part of the system so the rules can't be changed for them. Yes our MPs including Sonia Gandhi, Somnath Chatterjee and Jaya Bachhan are certainly part of it hence the Office of Profit rules could be amended even with retrospective effect despite the Presidential objection.

The system does not allow encashment of cheques less than that of Rs 100 but than Jaya Bachhan would not go to the bank seeking withdrawal of Rs 4.

The farmers of the Bundelkhand region surely have opted for the best possible way to take their revenge.

Posted by Hemender Sharma at 15 : 43 hrs

The first glass of water was the only and last thing I had today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. He, my lawful husband, was summoned to the panchayati sammelan today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. Last month I enrolled for the Gulabi gang We protested outside the collectors office today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. My land of historic temples, diamond mines, the valiant Lakshmi Bai… is witnessing a desperate fight today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. Barren fields and starving families… Three hundred farmers have taken their lives. Our neighbour, Balram, just today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. A farmer, Chunbud Ali even dug up his own grave, a week before he committed suicide. The government is assessing the situation even today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. Last month we were told we would be compensated. We received fifteen rupees by cheque, which the bank refused to encash today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jhansi and Jalaun Are drought hit for the last four years… Burning… much beyond the heat of the sun today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. Last week he was compelled to sell me… to a moneylender for eight thousand rupees. With the money lender I will sleep today. Because Bundelkhand has run dry. -Arthur Brendon Cardozo (29.11.09)