In context of the impending drought, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) demanded that the government initiate a series of proactive measures to tackle the crisis, in a press conference today in Delhi. The farmers' body has also reminded Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath of his promise to take action against police officers responsible for killing of six farmers in Mandsaur on 6 June 2017.
“As of June 20, water level in major reservoirs was alarmingly low in Andhra Pradesh (83% below normal), Maharashtra (71% below average), Tamil Nadu (43%), Kerala (38%), Telangana (36%), Jharkhand (26%), Gujarat(24%) and Karnataka (24%),” stated the AIKSCC press release. it added that the official statistics show 32% reduction in sowing of paddy, 49% reduction in pulses, 53% reduction in oilseeds and a 29% reduction in coarse grains compared to the same time last year.
The press conference was addressed by AIKSCC convenor VM Singh, former MP Raju Shetti, Yogendra Yadav from Swaraj Abhiyan and Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, among others. The AIKSCC is an umbrella organisation of over 200 farmers’ organisations from across the country formed in the backdrop of the Mandsaur farmers' killing in 2017.
“While the farmers' organisations have raised their issues through numerous agitations in the past few years, the opposition parties have failed to make agricultural crisis a central issue during the recently concluded elections," Mollah said during the press conference. He added that the farmers will hold a nationwide protest at district collectorates in the first week of August.
Urging the state and central governments to respond proactively to the drought crisis, the AIKSCC demanded that there must not be any delay in the declaration of drought and asked for a special national package for those districts that experienced drought last year and have experienced delayed monsoon this year.
Speaking to NewsClick, VM Singh said that the Madhya Pradesh government promoted two police officers to higher ranks who were involved in Mandsaur firing. He said that the AIKSCC has written separate letters to Madhya Pradesh CM and Congress President Rahul Gandhi to respond on this matter.
The AIKSCC has also raised the long pending demands such as revision of crop loss compensation to at least Rs 10,000 per acre for un-irrigated land and proportionally higher amounts for irrigated and horticulture crops, and extension of the number of days entitlement under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) from 100 to 150 days in the drought-affected areas.