Saturday, June 18, 2011

In debt-ridden Vidarbha, a battle brews-INDIAN EXPRESS

In debt-ridden Vidarbha, a battle brews

Vivek Deshpande Posted online: Sun Jun 19 2011, 03:44 hrs
Nagpur : A strong anti-liquor c
ampaign is brewing in rural Vidarbha, with women leading from the front. Sizeable women’s rallies at many places, a stubborn response by the liquor lobby, and the murder of a woman activist have combined to make this one heady campaign.

Putting their weight behind this agitation are Vidarbha’s farm activists who now agree that liquor is one of the main distress-causing factors in the region.

Paromita Goswami, a social activist running Shramik Elgar, an NGO at Mul in Vidarbha’s Chandrapur district, has been fighting a low-intensity battle against liquor in Chandrapur’s villages for the past 10 years. “We work among rural women who have to bear the brunt of their husbands’ liquor addiction. Liquor has ravaged the villages socially and financially. We have known instances of school kids being addicted too. We have managed to get liquor vends shut through

women’s power. But isolated efforts are not so effective and we have increasingly felt the

need to turn this into a mass movement by women,” she says.

Goswami has been joined by leading farm activist Kishore Tiwari, whose Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti has been fighting for farmers’ rights. “People tend to go to extremities in distress and liquor takes its toll in these circumstances,” he says.

Tiwari cites a report by Yavatmal Collector Sanjay Deshmukh who says liquor consumption in the district has grown exponentially in the last five years.

According to official statistics, consumption of liquor in Yavatmal district, the most suicide-prone district in Vidarbha, has increased from over 8 lakh litres in 2005-6 to about 15 lakh litres in 2010-11. Of this, the sale of country liquor has increased from 6 lakh litres to 10 lakh litres.

Incidentally, the last five years were when the government poured in crores of rupees into Vidarbha’s agrarian belt, gave fresh loans to farmers and waived off their debts.

Two years ago, even the mention of liquor being one of the reasons for farm distress would invite huge backlash. Health activist Abhay Bang had been criticised when he said all efforts at helping farmers would be in vain if the problem of liquor addiction wasn’t solved. Bang, who has fought many battles against liquor in Gadchiroli, is a member of a committee set up recently by the state government to suggest ways to tackle the issue.

“Chandrapur district consumed 1.56 crore litres in 2010, which is next only to Mumbai in population-consumption ratio. Who is paying the price for it? Women and children. Liquor is a very potent means of exploitation in villages with inebriated and debt-ridden farmers getting alienated from their lands. Often, farm hands are paid in liquor instead of wages,” says Goswami.

At Golewadi village in Bhandara district of the region, 40-year old Meenakshi Dahiwale was choked to death by Sumitra Madavi, an illicit-liquor brewer, about two months ago when she had gone along with a women’s delegation to raid the shop.

“All the surrounding villages have enforced prohibition. A lot of young boys, too, had got hooked on to liquor. So, we had decided to force a ban. Most of brewers in our village fell in line, but Sumitra and her husband Sanjay Vaidya won’t give up,” says Golewadi Bachat Gat president Manjira Dahiwale.

The liquor lobby is fighting back. The Chandrapur District Liquor Association took out a huge rally of over 12,000 people in the city, opposing the demand for prohibition in Chandrapur. “We included all liquor shop owners, their employees, families and others who run small eateries near liquor shops. What we are saying is, don’t single out Chandrapur, ban liquor in the entire state,” says Deepak Jaiswal, NCP city unit president and leader of the rally. Himself a liquor trader, Jaiswal argues, “Chandrapur is the most industrialised district in Vidarbha. Also, there is tiger tourism here. If people in Mumbai and Pune can have liquor, why not those in Chandrapur? And where would all these people whose lives are dependent on the business go?”

Tiwari says, “Politicians have a vested interest as many of them are in the alcohol business. So, they will always support it. But I agree that the ban should be not in isolated places. I feel we can start by banning it in the six most suicide-prone, farm-crisis districts of west Vidarbha.”

Bang suggests a multi-pronged approach. “We need to run different long-term programmes simultaneously. Along with reducing the availability and production of liquor, we also need to initiate serious efforts of preventive education against its ill-effects,” he says.

NCP leader Jaiswal points out that even if liquor is banned, tribals, who traditionally brew and consume liquor at home, will continue to do so. Goswami counters this and says, “It’s a wrong perception. Tribals used to have it only during special occasions. In the changed socio-economic situation, it has affected them too.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Confederation of Indian Textile Industry is misleading farmers -merinews reports
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Confederation of Indian Textile Industry is misleading farmers -
Wed, Jun 01, 2011 09:48:10 IST
“CITI STATEMENT is misleading and baseless when Indian regulatory authorities have confirmed that there is surplus stock of at least 50 lakhs bales and textile ministry has given it’s nod to the demand of agriculture and commerce ministry demand of additional permission of 15 lakhs bales in order to protect the financial interest of Indian cotton farmers who are committing suicides as prices of cotton have been slashed to 50 per cent in a month where as uncertainties and unjust quantitative restriction has always allowed the textile cartel to get cheaper cotton by 30 per cent. This is part of the textile lobby to get cotton export curtailed so that they can exploit the situation. It’s unfortunate that textile minister is playing on direction of this textile cartel that has ruined around one billion cotton farmers to the tune of Rs. 20,000 crore and losses are likely to be more if Indian government function with anti farmer policies,” Tiwari added.
“CITI has managed the Indian Textile minister initially to restrict cotton bales export to 55 lakhs bales from earlier year 84 lakh bales even when country cotton production is higher by another 25 lakhs bales then ban export of cotton yarn and now surprisingly as per Quota Policy of Cotton items now added Cotton Waste (Comber Noil) H. S. Code No. 5202 as Cotton Waste is a ‘By-product’ of Cotton Yarn. When plenty of quota of Cotton Yarn lying unutilized the hostile functioning of Union Textile Minister Dayanithi Maran has a allaowed textile cartel to include the by-product banned,” said Tiwari.
“CITI is keeping salient of the fact that cotton prices have increased from Rs 30000/candy in April 2010 to Rs 60000/candy April 2011. This is an increase of about Rs 70-75 per kg. And immediately spinners increased the price of yarn from rs 150/- per kg in April 2010 for 30s combed to Rs 230/- per kg in April 2011. increase of Rs 80 per kg which reflects in cotton value to Rs 30000/per candy minimum. Fabric weavers too have increased prices of grey fabric of 40 x 40 counts 124 x 64 with 200 gm per mtr which is quoted at about Rs 70/- per sqmtr as against Rs 38 in April 2010. There s an increase of Rs 32/mtr which is Rs 160/- per kg which in terms of candy is about Rs 58/60000 and present ban on export has brought back cotton prices to the level of April 2010 which is artificial an stage managed and Union Textile Minister Dayanithi Maran is directly involved in this scam,” Tiwari added.
"CITI should admit that Cotton production has grown from a low of 225 lac bales to 330 lac bales in last 5 years the undue protection to Local textile mills benefiting of buying Indian cotton at prices which are at least lower by 30% as compared to its competitor in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries who buy from other growths which is reason behind the present restriction of cotton export and when Indian cotton after lot of hard work and promotion by exporters have found a very stable and regular market of its cotton in foreign countries and Govt. should ensure that the markets created are not lost to competition due to faulty Govt. policies to protect handful textile mill owners .” It is alleged.
"We need the urgent central intervention and demand to lift all export restriction of cotton bales and yarn too so that farmers get higher price to cotton," Tiwari urged.