New Delhi, July 16 : The All India Kisan Council of AIKS met at Hyderabad from 12th to 14th July, 2019 to discuss the agrarian scenario prevailing in the country and to chalk out the future course of action. This was preceded by a National Workshop on ‘Agrarian Crisis and Role of Worker-Peasant Social Cooperatives in Building Alternatives’ that was inaugurated by Dr. Thomas Isaac, Finance Minister of Kerala and the Keynote address was delivered by Prof. Venkatesh Athreya. More than 300 delegates from across the country participated. The experiences of successful cooperatives were shared and the possibilities of building a movement for Cooperative action were deliberated upon. The AIKC also passed resolutions on different issues affecting the peasantry and the toiling masses.
The AIKC meeting discussed at length the extraordinary drought situation in the country and expressed serious concern at the total apathy of the BJP-led Central Government and different State Governments. A separate resolution on the drought situation called for scrapping of the Manual for Drought Management of 2016 which almost absolves the Central Government of any responsibilities in times of drought. Under the changed criteria drought hit regions can be excluded from compensation from the National Disaster Response Fund. The AIKC demanded that the unprecedented drought be declared a National Calamity and demanded effective relief measures including compensation for crop losses, provision of free rations, waiver of loans and creation of jobs under MGNREGA. The dubious role of Insurance companies who are not settling claims of farmers and are raking in huge profits was also criticized. AIKS activists will involve in relief work and also organise protests for ensuring proper relief.
Millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwelling communities are facing the danger of eviction due to the Supreme Court ruling on 13th February, 2019. If the claims under the FRA are rejected, then the States have been directed to evict Adivasis and traditional forest dwellers from the forests. After countrywide protests the Supreme Court amended its ruling and stayed it till 10th July, 2019. The Supreme Court is due to hear the different petitions on 24th July, 2019. The BJP Government is also proposing draconian amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 to facilitate corporate loot and exploitation of the tribal people. The two-Day National Consultation of Land and Forest Rights Movements held in Delhi on 1st and 2nd July, 2019 decided to hold programmes and protest actions condemning the government actions and the proposed amendments to Forest Act on 22nd July at the village, block, district and state level. Chief Ministers of different States of the country have been written to seeking their intervention in favour of the Forest Rights Act and the Adivasis in the Supreme Court. AIKS calls upon all its units to rise in protest across the country on 22nd July, 2019 jointly with the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union and constituents of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan. A Protest Demonstration will also be held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi at 11:30 AM on the day.
The call of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee to hold rallies at all District Collectorates on 3rd August, 2019 and submit memorandums through the Collectors to the President of India demanding the passage of the two Bills passed by the Kisan Parliament on a) Remunerative prices for all crops as per Swaminathan Commission recommendations with assured procurement and b) Freedom from indebtedness by waiving of all loans of farmers. The President had assured to use his powers to ensure that the two Bills submitted to Parliament as Private Member Bills are passed. The AIKC meeting decided to endorse the AIKSCC protest and called upon all its units to join in large numbers against the betrayal by the BJP Government and submit memorandums to the District Collector/Magistrate on 3rd August, 2019.
The AIKC resolved to unite with workers and fight the retrograde changes being brought by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government to the existing labour laws. On 10th July, 2019, the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditional Bill 2019 has been cleared by the Union Cabinet. The decision to allow extension of work hours up to 14 hours a day is inhuman and a denial of hard won rights of the working class movement. If the proposed Bill is passed by Parliament, then 70% of the workers now under the protection of the labour codes will be excluded and will be at the mercy of their employer. The Union Cabinet also approved floor level minimum wage at Rs 178/-per day (Rs.4628/-per month) which is way below the minimum wage available in most states. This will lead to further depressing incomes to aid corporate profiteering. Against these anti-worker measures AIKS has called for a nation-wide protest on 5th September, 2019 in coordination with the Trade Unions.
The AIKC meeting noted the serious flood condition in Assam and nearby States and a resolution was passed in solidarity with the victims calling for relief from the Government. AIKC also passed a resolution against the BJP-led Central Government’s decision to bring all river disputes under a Single Tribunal for Inter-State River Water Sharing Disputes. The move is cut off from ground realities and impractical given that the efforts at dispute settlement in different such disputes have been going on for decades. The AIKC also passed a resolution against the Kaveri Delta Coal-Bed Methane Extraction Project which will literally sound the death-knell for agriculture in the region. It called for ensuring rent for farmers through whose land high-tension power lines are installed as well as exploring of underground cables and alternative routes along highways for gas pipelines.
AIKS condoles the death of more than 25 people in the floods that have hit more than 12 districts in North Bihar. Report of heavy rains in Nepal leading to huge discharge of waters into rivers and possibility of further aggravation in situation is cause for concern. Parts of Tripura and North Bengal also are reported to be affected. AIKS calls for proper relief and rescue operations and calls upon our units in the region to join in efforts to help victims.