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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What a PORIBARTAN! Three Farmers Committ Suicide in Mamata Ruled Bengal as No One buys Paddy or Potatao and the Peasantry is Trapped into Debt Infinite! Urban Mamata Clan seems to have No Sympathy with dying rural world.Just Read Ananad Bazaar patrik


  What a PORIBARTAN! Three Farmers Committ Suicide in Mamata Ruled Bengal as No One buys Paddy or Potatao and the Peasantry is Trapped into Debt Infinite! Urban Mamata Clan seems to have No Sympathy with dying rural world.Just Read Ananad Bazaar patrika, the mouthpiece of LPG Brahaminical hegemony which had a great role to end the Marxist Rule!

Farmerssuicide on rise in Bengal; parties blame each other : East ...

indiatoday.intoday.in/story/farmers-suicide...bengal.../167132.html
4 Jan 2012 – Farmers suicides have come back to haunt the West Bengal government. Unable to handle the rising inflation, several farmers have committed ...

| Video | Farmers suicide haunts West Bengal | India Videos | - India ...

indiatoday.intoday.in/.../farmers-suicide...bengal/.../16...4 Jan 2012 - 2 min
Several farmers, unable to tackle inflation, have committedsuicide in West Bengal.
Bengali singer turned Tinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman has left West Bengal government under shame with his song on farmers suicide. He forced the government to pay heed to the farmers.

After incurring heavy losses and getting inapproapriate prices for their products, several farmers committed suicide in West Bengal.

For praising the slain and arrested Maoist leaders, Suman faced criticism from Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee. With his song, Suman reminded the government that farmers were used to defeat CPI(M).

'Kannay Kaan Dao' (Pay Heed to the Tears) song can be sing like this in English, "Maa Mati Manush government, you may call the opposition in whatever name but you need the farmers, what is the cost of the potato sacks stored in cold storage and rice at easy prices, when will the farmers in the Maa Mati Manush regime sell as they are all starving." 

Questioning the government, Suman wrote some lines, "Come and answer whether the owners of the mill buy the rice at government prices or less than that." 

Suman criticised Mamata for fake her promises that she will turn Kolkata into London. Suman said that "The new government has come to power at the price of the martyrdom of the villagers with a new name of change. There is no need of making London, rather look into the plight of the farmers." 

Meanwhile, the Congress and the opposition Left Front alleged the government for the mismanagement of agriculture in the state. 

 The West Bengal government on Monday denied reports of farmers' suicide for failing to get the right price of their produce in Burdwan and Bankura districts but assured it would probe the matter. 

"Reports about farmers' suicide in a section of media are not correct," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters on the sidelines of a programme. 

However, she said that an inquiry would be made in this regard. 

She said some farmers had taken loans and asked the media to crosscheck with concerned departments on any matter involving the administration they wish to report on before filing the same. 

At least three farmers have reportedly committed suicide in Bankura and Burdwan districts in the last few days for being unable to get the right price of their produce

Yet another farmer having committed suicide now in Burdwan district, the rice bowl of West Bengal, taking the toll to nine in the last two months.
Predictably, there are two versions of this tragedy. The bereaved family insists that Amiya Saha (of Rajpur village in Memari) killed himself yesterday after having failed to sell his paddy and thus pay back the loan he had taken from the village moneylender. The local administration claims Saha was suffering from kidney ailments caused by diabetes. Also, "he had gone into acute depression. These led to his suicide," according to district magistrate Omkar Singh Meena.

In the last two months, eight farmers committed suicide in Burdwan district, while the ninth such incident was reported from North Bengal's Coocbehar district. The state administration continues to deny any case of farmers' suicide, even as there are sporadic cases of farmers' agitation in the rural Bengal. There, in some cases, the farmers have taken the extreme steps of burning the paddy to draw attention to their plight.
Farmers' agitations led by the Left bloc and the Congress party are continuing in the districts. Tomorrow, Left-affiliated peasants' organisations are observing a strike in rural Bengal. The announcement has failed to get a positive response from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, indicating that the Trinamool Congress government has little or no clue about tackling the grave crisis.
Baidyanath, an aged tribal in Memari's village, has been cultivating a local landlord's plot as a bargadar. "True, the government has announced that it would purchase paddy from the farmers with MSP (minimum support price), but we are yet to get that," the peasant says.
Like Baidyanath, many farmers, who can afford to wait, have been compelled to hold on to their produces — with the hope for a better price in the coming months. For the record, there are 200 quintals of paddy lying unsold in the house of Saha, the latest victim of the tragedy. After the first incidents of farmers' suicide reported in the media, the government announced its MSP for this season as Rs 1,080 and Rs 1,120 — depending on the quality of the produce. The administration has asked the farmers to open an account at nearby banks, so that the government could make direct payments, thus eliminate middlemen.
However, by the time the government declared its support price, the distress sale of paddy has been almost complete. The small farmers, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the Bengal's peasantry, are traditionally depended on moneylenders as the commercial banks and cooperative banks are reluctant to offer credit to small farmers.
Murshidabad, a district where agriculture is the main occupation of most of the people, has peasants totalling 36 lakhs. But the record of Central Cooperative Bank, which is responsible for offering credit to the farmers through its 390 branchs, is abysmally poor. In 2008-09, the bank gave loan to 16,818 peasants to the tune of Rs 15.30 crore. In the following year, the number of the peasants doubled: 30,220 of them got loan from the bank — to the tune of Rs 30 crore. Year 2010-11 had 34,533 peasants who got loan amounting to a total Rs 48 crore.
The record makes it evident that banks cover only a small fraction of the peasantry. The rest are dependent on the rural moneylenders. Therein lies problem with today's crisis in the state's agriculture. The reluctance of the banks to forward credit to small farmers pushes them to take loan from moneylenders.
According to peasants in Burdwan and Murshidabad, rural businessmen, who deal in fertiliser and pesticide among other, also act as moneylenders. They offer credit to the poor peasants at a monthly rate of 10% interest (annual rate 120%) and realise the loan in kind that is by taking the produce of the peasants.
In Murshidabad's Boroa. Ananda Gopal Das committed suicide in June 2010. After that, his family paid back the loan Das had from the local cooperative bank. Later, when they tried to apply for fresh loan, the bank rejected their application. The family was thus forced to take loan from the moneylender.
Das's family hold that though the banks charge seven per cent interest against agriculture loan, they don't encourage small farmers much. Thus, the paddy is put on distress sale by the small farmers who have taken advance from the moneylenders. The same paddy, when the administration enters into the scene, is resold to the government by the middlemen-cum-moneylenders. The crisis in state's agriculture deepens triggering off the farmers' suicide in Bengal.

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West Bengal farmer commits suicide after failing to repay loan

Economic Times - ‎Jan 14, 2012‎
The Congress, which is also a part of Mamata Banerjee's government, has also raised their voice against the farmer suicide issue. West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president and Congress Rajya Sabha MP from the state, Pradip Bhattacharjee ...

2 more farmers commit suicide

Indian Express - ‎Jan 14, 2012‎
Two more farmers in the state have allegedly committed suicide in Burdwan and Malda in the past 48 hours. With this, total 19 farmers are reported to have committed suicide in the state following their failure to repay loans. ...

Another farmer death in Burdwan

IBNLive.com - ‎Jan 14, 2012‎
PTI | 06:01 PM,Jan 14,2012 Burdwan (WB), Jan 14 (PTI) In yet another case of farmer 'suicide', the body of a cultivator was found hanging at Purbasthali in Burdwan district last night. Official sources said the death of Tapas Majhi (45), ...

Palash Biswas


তিন দিনে আত্মহত্যা তিন চাষির, কারণ নিয়ে দ্বন্দ্ব
নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদন
মালদহের হবিবপুর, ১৩ জানুয়ারি।
বর্ধমানের পূর্বস্থলী, ১৪ জানুয়ারি।
বর্ধমানেরই কালনা, ১৫ জানুয়ারি, রবিবার।
পরপর তিন দিনে রাজ্যে আত্মঘাতী হয়েছেন তিন চাষি। আত্মহত্যার পিছনের কারণ হিসেবে পরিবারগুলি যে দাবি করছে (মূলত ফসলের দাম না পাওয়া), প্রশাসন তা মানতে নারাজ। কিন্তু চলতি মরসুমে ফসলের দাম না পেয়ে এ দিন পর্যন্ত রাজ্যে ২০ জন কৃষিজীবী আত্মঘাতী হয়েছেন বলে অভিযোগ তুলে ইতিমধ্যেই সরব হয়েছেন বিরোধীরা। 'চাষি আত্মহত্যার' প্রশ্নে তৃণমূল নেতৃত্বাধীন জোট সরকারের নিয়মিত সমালোচনা শুরু করেছেন জোটের শরিক কংগ্রেস নেতৃত্বও।
শুক্রবার হবিবপুরে গাছে ঝুলন্ত দেহ মেলে হরিদাস রত্ন নামে এক ধানচাষির। পরিবারের অভিযোগ, ধানের দাম না পেয়ে ঋণের জালে জড়িয়ে পড়াতেই তিনি আত্মঘাতী হন। তবে মালদহের জেলাশাসক শ্রীমতি অর্চনার বক্তব্য, "মানসিক অবসাদে ওই চাষি আত্মহত্যা করেছেন।" পূর্বস্থলীতে শনিবার তাপস মাঝি নামে এক প্রান্তিক-চাষির আত্মহত্যার ঘটনায় ধানের দাম না পাওয়ার অভিযোগ উঠেছিল পরিবারের তরফে। বর্ধমানের জেলাশাসক ওঙ্কার সিংহ মিনা অবশ্য এ দিন বলেন, "তদন্তে জানা গিয়েছে, ওই চাষি গত দু'বছর ভাগ-চাষ করেননি। ওঁর নিজের জমিতে যে ধান হয়, তা দিয়ে সারা বছর ওঁর পরিবারের খাওয়া চলে। এ বারও তেমনই ফলন হয়েছিল। তাই চাষে বিপর্যয়ের জন্য আত্মহত্যার কথা ঠিক নয়।"
কালনায় শোকস্তব্ধ পরিবার। ছবি: কেদারনাথ ভট্টাচার্য
আত্মঘাতী চাষিদের তালিকায় সর্বশেষ সংযোজন কালনা ১ ব্লকের ঘনশ্যামপুরের চাষি রবীন্দ্রনাথ পাত্র (৩০)। পরিবারের দাবি, গত বছর প্রায় পাঁচ কাঠা জমিতে আলু চাষ করেছিলেন রবীন্দ্রনাথবাবু। তা থেকে পাওয়া ১৫ বস্তা (বস্তাপিছু ৫০ কেজি) আলু হিমঘরে রেখেছিলেন। পাশাপাশি, ব্যবসার খাতিরে তিনি অন্য চাষিদের থেকে বেশ কিছু আলুর বস্তার বন্ড কিনেছিলেন বলে জানান তাঁর খুড়তুতো দাদা শঙ্কর পাত্র। মৃতের স্ত্রী ঝর্নাদেবী জানান, শনিবার দুপুরে বাড়িতেই কীটনাশক খান রবীন্দ্রনাথবাবু। কালনা হাসপাতালে ভর্তি করানো হলে রবিবার ভোরে তাঁর মৃত্যু হয়। 
ঝর্নাদেবীর অভিযোগ, "আলু চাষ ও ব্যবসার জন্য বেশ কিছু ঋণ হয়ে গিয়েছিল। সে কথা মাঝেমধ্যেই বলতেন। দেনার চাপেই উনি আত্মহত্যা করলেন।" মহকুমাশাসক (কালনা) সুমিতা বাগচি অবশ্য বলেন, "গত ১২ জানুয়ারি ঘনশ্যামপুরে অভিযান চালিয়ে পুলিশ ও আবগারি দফতর বহু লিটার চোলাই বাজেয়াপ্ত করে। বেআইনি চোলাই ব্যবসা চালানোর জন্য আবগারি দফতর যে তিন জনের নামে মামলা দায়ের করেছে, রবীন্দ্রনাথবাবু তাঁদের অন্যতম। এ ছাড়াও আমরা জেনেছি, ওই ব্যক্তি আগেও আত্মহত্যার চেষ্টা করেছেন।" মৃতের স্ত্রী অবশ্য চোলাই ব্যবসায় রবীন্দ্রনাথবাবুর জড়িত থাকার অভিযোগ অস্বীকার করেন। জেলাশাসক বলেন, "বিডিও-কে ঘটনাস্থলে পাঠানো হয়েছে। আত্মহত্যার প্রকৃত কারণ জানতে বিশদে তদন্তে হচ্ছে।" 
জেলায় জেলায় আলু চাষি এবং ব্যবসায়ীদের 'পরিস্থিতি' কী? রবিবারই বর্ধমানে 'প্রগতিশীল আলু ব্যবসায়ী সমিতি'র রাজ্য সভাপতি লালু মুখোপাধ্যায় দাবি করেছেন, "গত বার রাজ্যে আলু উৎপাদনের পরিমাণ ছিল প্রায় সাড়ে সাত থেকে পৌনে আট লক্ষ মেট্রিক টন। প্রায় ৬ লক্ষ মেট্রিক টন আলু মজুত করা হয়েছিল রাজ্যের হিমঘরগুলিতে। কিন্তু সরকার পরপর দু'দফায় হিমঘরে মজুত আলুর সংরক্ষণের মেয়াদ বৃদ্ধি করে তা ৩১ ডিসেম্বর পর্যন্ত করলেও, হিমঘরগুলিতে এখনও জমে রয়েছে অন্তত ২৫ লক্ষ বস্তা অর্থাৎ প্রায় দেড় লক্ষ মেট্রিক টন আলু। তার মধ্যে দুই মেদিনীপুরে প্রায় ১৮ লক্ষ, হুগলিতে ৪ লক্ষ এবং বর্ধমান ও বাঁকুড়ায় প্রায় ৪ লক্ষ বস্তা জমে রয়েছে।" সমিতির অনুমান, এ বার রাজ্যে আলুর উৎপাদন বেড়ে ৯ লক্ষ মেট্রিক টনে দাঁড়াতে পারে। সরকার এখনই মোট উৎপাদনের ২০ শতাংশ আলু কেনায় উদ্যোগী না হলে চাষিদের আলুর অভাবি বিক্রি করতে হবে বলে সংগঠনটির দাবি। 
বস্তুত, আলু ব্যবসায়ী সমিতির দাবির সমর্থন মিলেছে কালনার ঘনশ্যামপুর এলাকার আলু চাষি অমর সরকার, বাপিনাথ চক্রবর্তী, জগবন্ধু ঘোষেদের কথায়। তাঁদের দাবি, "আমরা সাধারণত জ্যোতি আলু চাষ করি। গত বছর যখন জ্যোতি আলু ওঠে, বস্তাপিছু দাম ছিল ২৩০-২৪০ টাকা। এখন ৫০ কেজির বস্তার দাম এতটাই পড়ে গিয়েছে যে, সংসার চালানোই দায়। এত লোকসান হলে চাষি বাঁচবে কী করে?" হুগলিরও কিছু আলু চাষি জানিয়েছেন, গত মরসুমের জ্যোতি আলুর বস্তা বর্তমানে বিক্রি হচ্ছে ১৩৫-১৪০ টাকায়। সম্প্রতি মালদহের চাঁচলে মেয়াদ ফুরনোর পরেও চাষিরা না নেওয়ায় প্রায় দু'হাজার বস্তা আলু বিলিয়ে দেন হিমঘর কর্তৃপক্ষ। ওই আলু বেচতে নিলাম ডাকা হলেও কেনার লোক পাওয়া যায়নি।
কেন এমন হচ্ছে? 'প্রগতিশীল আলু ব্যবসায়ী সমিতি'র বর্ধমান জেলা কমিটির সম্পাদক সাগর সরকারের অভিযোগ, "কৃষি বিপণনমন্ত্রীকে হিমঘরে আলু জমে যাওয়া ও লোকসানের আশঙ্কার কথা বলা হয়েছিল জুলাইতেই। কিন্তু সরকার উপযুক্ত সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে গড়িমসি করেছে। সমিতির প্রতিনিধিদের আলু সংক্রান্ত প্রশাসনিক বৈঠকগুলিতে রাখার জন্য বারবার দাবি জানাচ্ছি। সে ক্ষেত্রে তাঁরা সরকারকে সমস্যা সম্পর্কে ওয়াকিবহাল করতে পারতেন। কিন্তু সরকার এখনও সে দাবি মানেনি।" 
রাজ্যের কৃষি বিপণনমন্ত্রী অরূপ রায় অবশ্য বলছেন, "আলুর ফলন বেশি হওয়ার জন্যই এ বার সমস্যা হয়েছে।" তাঁর আশ্বাস, "আলু দিয়ে তৈরি সামগ্রীর উৎপাদন করার শিল্প তৈরির চেষ্টা করা হবে। প্রথমে সরকারি, পরে বেসরকারি স্তরে এই শিল্প স্থাপনের চেষ্টা হবে। বিদেশে সরাসরি আলু রফতানির চেষ্টাও চালানো হবে। আর ধানের ক্ষেত্রে খাদ্য দফতর পরিকাঠামোগত কিছু ব্যবস্থা করার দাবি জানিয়ে কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারকে চিঠি লিখেছে। প্রয়োজনীয় গুদামঘর এবং প্রতিটি ব্লকে অন্তত চারটি করে চালকল তৈরির দাবি জানানো হয়েছে। তা হলে ন্যূনতম সহায়ক মূলে চাল সংগ্রহ করার ক্ষেত্রে রাজ্য সরকারের কোনও অসুবিধা হবে না।" আলু ব্যবসায়ী সমিতির অভিযোগের জবাবে মন্ত্রী বলেন, "গত বছর আলু উঠেছিল জানুয়ারিতে। আমরা ক্ষমতায় আসি মে মাসে। অভিজ্ঞতা অর্জনের জন্য কিছুটা সময় তো লাগবেই।"
কিন্তু চাষিদের পাশে দাঁড়ানোর ব্যাপারে রাজ্য সরকারের 'সদিচ্ছা' নিয়েই প্রশ্ন তুলতে শুরু করেছেন বিরোধীরা। সরকারকে 'কটাক্ষ' করে এ দিন বিরোধী দলনেতা সূর্যকান্ত মিশ্র বলেন, "সরকার বলছে, টাকা নেই। কিন্তু ওরাই (রাজ্য সরকার) দিঘার সৈকত উৎসবে দেড় কোটি টাকা খরচ করছে। অন্য দিকে, টাকার অভাবে একের পরে এক কৃষক আত্মহত্যা করছেন!" 
হাইকম্যান্ডের নির্দেশে প্রদেশ কংগ্রেস নেতারা রাজ্য সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে 'সুর নরম' করলেও কৃষক আত্মহত্যার প্রসঙ্গে সমালোচনা থেকে সরে আসেননি। এ দিন কৃষ্ণনগরের এক সভায় প্রদেশ কংগ্রেস সভাপতি প্রদীপ ভট্টাচার্য বলেন, "আমরা সরকারকে সব রকম ভাবে সাহায্য করতে চাই। কিন্তু যদি না অনাহারে চাষিদের মৃত্যু হয়, বা চাষিদের আত্মঘাতী হতে হয়, তবে আমরা তার প্রতিবাদ করব। কেন এত চাষি আত্মঘাতী হবেন? কেন এই নিয়ে তদন্ত কমিশন হবে না?" তাঁর সংযোজন, "দিঘার সৈকত উৎসব নিয়ে আমার আপত্তি নেই। হাজারবার উৎসব হোক। কিন্তু চাষিরা যেন ফসলের ন্যায্য দাম পান।" রাজ্যের শিল্পমন্ত্রী তথা তৃণমূলের মহাসচিব পার্থ চট্টোপাধ্যায়ের প্রতিক্রিয়া, "যথাযথ উত্তর ঠিক সময়ে দেব।"


তিন দিনে আত্মহত্যা তিন চাষির, কারণ নিয়ে দ্বন্দ্ব
নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদন: মালদহের হবিবপুর, ১৩ জানুয়ারি।বর্ধমানের পূর্বস্থলী, ১৪ জানুয়ারি।বর্ধমানেরই কালনা, ১৫ জানুয়ারি, রবিবার। পরপর তিন দিনে রাজ্যে আত্মঘাতী হয়েছেন তিন চাষি। আত্মহত্যার পিছনের কারণ হিসেবে পরিবারগুলি যে দাবি করছে (মূলত ফসলের দাম না পাওয়া), প্রশাসন তা মানতে নারাজ। কিন্তু চলতি মরসুমে ফসলের দাম না পেয়ে এ দিন পর্যন্ত রাজ্যে ২০ জন কৃষিজীবী আত্মঘাতী হয়েছেন বলে অভিযোগ তুলে ইতিমধ্যেই সরব হয়েছেন বিরোধীরা।

সমালোচনায় সরব সূর্য, ফের প্রতিবাদ পার্থর
নিজস্ব সংবাদদাতা, কলকাতা: সরকারের কাজ নিয়ে শাসক ও বিরোধী শিবিরের চাপানউতোর অব্যাহত। ফের সরকারি কাজের সমালোচনা করেছেন বিরোধী দলনেতা সূর্যকান্ত মিশ্র। শনিবারের পরে রবিবারও শিল্পমন্ত্রী পার্থ চট্টোপাধ্যায় সূর্যবাবুর বক্তব্যের জবাব দিয়েছেন। ফলে, সমালোচনা এবং 'রিজয়েন্ডার' সমানে চলছে! নতুন সরকারের ২৪০ দিন অতিক্রান্ত হওয়ার পরে কী কী কাজ সম্পূর্ণ হয়েছে, সরাসরি মুখ্যমন্ত্রী মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের কাছে তার এ দিন তার খতিয়ান চেয়েছেন বিরোধী দলনেতা।

বিয়ে রেজিস্ট্রি অফিসে দুর্দশায় নথি সংরক্ষণ
আর্যভট্ট খান, কলকাতা: ডাঁই করে রাখা ফাইলের স্তূপ প্রায় সিলিং ছুঁয়ে গিয়েছে। সেই স্তূপের আড়ালে কার্যত ঢাকা পড়ে গিয়েছেন অফিসের কর্মীরাই। অফিসে ঢুকতে গেলে অবশ্য বরাদ্দ ফাইলের গুঁতো। মেঝেতে পড়ে থাকা স্তূপীকৃত ফাইলের জন্য অফিসে বেঞ্চ পাতার জায়গাও কার্যত নেই। এমনকী, ফাইলের 'পাহাড়ের' চাপে অফিসের মেঝে বসে গিয়ে ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত হচ্ছে বলে অভিযোগ।

পশ্চিমী ঝঞ্ঝার
বাউন্সারে ফের জব্দ শীত
বাড়ি বাড়ি জল পৌঁছে দিতে
হাত মেলাচ্ছে পুর-জনস্বাস্থ্য

ক্ষোভের জেরে ৮ জেলায়
সম্মেলন স্থগিত ফ ব-র
কারচুপি আটকে আয়
বাড়িয়েছে বিদ্যুৎ বণ্টন সংস্থা

গৌতমকে
বিঁধলেন রেজ্জাক



Operation Barga

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Operation Barga was a land reform movement throughout rural West Bengal for recording the names of sharecroppers (bargadars) while avoiding the time-consuming method of recording through the settlement machinery. It bestowed on the bargadars, the legal protection against eviction by the landlords, and entitled them to the due share of the produce. Operation Barga was launched in 1978 and concluded by the mid-1980s.
Introduced in 1978, and given legal backing in 1979 and 1980, Operation Barga became a popular but controversial measure for land reforms. The ultimate aim of these land reforms was to facilitate the conversion of the state's bargadars into landowners, in line with the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution (Art. 34). To date, Op Barga has recorded the names of approximately 15 lakh (1.5 million) bargadars. Since then, it has been marked as one of the more successful land reforms programs in India.[1]

Contents

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[edit]Background

The Land Reforms Act of India (1955) and its subsequent amendments stated that all share croppers would have permanent use rights on land that they had lease and that such rights would be inheritable. Such incumbency rights could be claimed as long as sharecroppers paid the legal share of the crop to their landlords or did not leave the land uncultivated or unless the landlords wished to take back the land for personal cultivation.
However, landlords routinely used the personal cultivation clause to evict tenants. There was another major barrier. A tenant would have to formally register his status (as a tenant) with the government. But few tenants registered, faced as they were with potential intimidation from their landlords, the removal of other forms of support such as consumption credit, and the prospect of a long and arduous legal battle if they truly wanted to dispute an eviction.[2] Given this imbalance, landlords regularly exploited their tenants, either evicting them just before the harvest season, or giving them a lower share of the produce then they were entitled to, or refusing to give loans or charging extremely high rates of interest on loans taken for agricultural investments by the bargadar.[3]
Enumeration of the sharecroppers and legal recording of their tenancy would have provided them with protection from eviction and exploitation under the existing laws itself. However, most bargadars did not know their rights under these laws, and, given their financial status, they were financially dependent on their landlords. Additionally, the long and tedious recording process, and the fear of reprisals by the landlords meant that most bargadars did not record their names. Recording drives before Operation Barga had managed to record only 4 lakh, out of the estimated total of 22-25 lakh bargadars.[3]

[edit]History

The Left Front came to power in West Bengal in 1977 as the ruling state government. In existing tenant laws they found possibilities to advance their agenda of agrarian reform. The Left Front carried out a two-pronged attack. It took the no-cultivation clause seriously and closed off this loophole. Simultaneously, it encouraged the registration of tenants through the much publicized Operation Barga.
In June 1978, based on discussions held during a workshop on Land Reforms, the West Bengal government launched Operation Barga. This was given legal backing through the Bengal Land Holding Revenue Act, 1979 and the Revenue Rules of 1980.[4] In 1981 the West Bengal Government passed a law to remove the exemptions given to orchards, plantations, fisheries and religious trusts from the purview of the land reforms (However, it took many years for this legislation to receive the approval of the Central Government).
Operation Barga aimed to record the names of the sharecroppers (Bargadars), who formed a major part of the agrarian population in West Bengal and to educate them about their cultivation rights. Operation Barga depended heavily on collective action by the sharecroppers and was qualitatively different from the traditional Revenue Court approach, which was biased in favour of the richer and more influential landowners.[4]
The enumeration and recording of Sharecroppers and educating them about their rights was an important step in raising their economic and social status. By giving these farmers more rights, and protecting them from exploitation by the landowners, they were assured of a relatively stable livelihood, which would improve their living standards as well, and give them an opportunity to become landowners themselves.[1]
While Operation Barga did not directly attempt to turn the bargadars into landowners, the legislation included two provisions intended to facilitate that conversion. Firstly, the legislation gave bargadars priority rights to purchase the barga land if the landlord decided to sell it. Secondly, the legislation authorized the state government to establish a "land corporation" that would advance funds to bargadars to purchase barga land using this priority right. The second provision has not yet been implemented due to lack of funding.[1]

[edit]Implementation

To implement Operation Barga, the government adopted the principle of people's participation in land reforms, and collective action by the stakeholders.[5] This movement was launched with the active assistance of not only the bargadars themselves but also of rural workers' organizations and self-governing institutions. The operation was divided into the following five distinct steps:[4]
  1. Identification of the priority pockets with large concentration of bargadars.
  2. Camping by the Government Officials at the priority pockets.
  3. Meeting between the bargadars and the government officials.
  4. The collective participation of the villagers in the reconnaissance and field verification to establish the claims of share croppers.
  5. Issue of temporary certificates called `parchas' to confirm sharecroppers as evidence of their rights enabling them to obtain bank credit.
To begin with, group meetings between Officials and Bargadars were organized during "settlement camps" (also called "Reorientation camps"), where the bargadars could discuss their grievances. The first such camp was held at Halusai in Polba taluk in Hooghly district from 18 to 20 May, 1978.[3]
These camps gave the land officials an opportunity to educate the bargadars and other landless farmers of their rights. The participants in these camps would be about 30-40 poor farmers, the landowners, and about 10-15 land officials at the field level, such as junior land reforms officers, "kanungos", and agricultural extension officers. Each camp would last for around 3 days, with the officials staying on site during the duration. Wide publicity would be given for these camps by the beating of drums, distribution of leaflets, and personal advertising by the officials and local farmer groups. Based on feedback after the camp, changes to the working of these camps would be introduced.[3]
During the camps, the various stakeholders would meet with the land officials and discuss their issues. A list of claimants would be drawn up immediately after, and publicly verified in the presence of the landholders, who could then record their objections. Then, the names of the bargadars would be recorded on the spot, and all legal documents would be issued and distributed immediately.[5]
There was initially some violence during the first year of the programme, where landowners manhandled some officials and harassed bargadars who came forward to record their names.[3][5] However, with increased governmental and collective support, these incidents reduced. The peasant organizations of the ruling political parties worked along with village-level administration to encourage registration. This thwarted the collusion between landlords and local officials and prevented intimidation. "Settlement camps," which were already being used by land reform officials to maintain and update land records, were actively used as tools of registration. Registration certificates were issued on the spot.[2]
Bureaucratic red-tapism was removed to a large extent under this operation, since it was one of the major reasons for low recording of bargadars. Over 8000 awareness camps were organized throughout the state between 1978 and June 1982, which resulted in the registration of over 675,000 sharecroppers.[6]

[edit]Impact

The launch of Operation Barga and the legal amendments introduced changed the landlord-bargadar relationship in two fundamental ways. First, through anti-eviction measures, the landlords were largely prevented from forcibly throwing the bargadars off the land. In fact, the bargadar rights were made hereditary and thus perpetual. Second, the state guaranteed that the bargadars would receive a fair share of the crop (75 per cent if the bargadar provided the non-labour inputs and 50 per cent if the landlord provides those inputs). This prevented exploitation of the sharecroppers by the landowners.[1]
The 1979 amendment was considered as a radical departure in clinching the issue of Bargadari settlement on a judicial basis. Previously it was almost impossible for a tenant to prove his tenancy rights legally owing to the judicial and administrative red-tapism. But in the new amendments, the responsibility of disproving a claim to bagadari rights was squarely put on the landowners. Self-Cultivation was defined as cultivation on the basis of physical participation by members of the landowner's family and resumption of land under self-cultivation were made under many stringent conditions.
While land reform have generally made little headway in most of India, West Bengal has been an exception. In all, approximately half of rural households in West Bengal have received land reform benefits. In the 20-year period after setting land reforms in place, agricultural growth in West Bengal skyrocketed. More important, rural poverty declined sharply and both food intake and wages in the countryside increased significantly.[1] Operation Barga formed a major part of this success. Progress has occurred in three areas:[1]
1. Regulating sharecropping relationships (Operation Barga)
2. Redistributing ceiling-surplus lands in ownership (Land-ceiling Act)
3. Distributing homestead plots
An empirical analysis of the impact of Operation Barga on agricultural production, productivity, employment, income including its distribution and on the qualitative improvement in the utilization of barga land was conducted during the period 1986-88 in the three districts of Birbhum,Burdwan and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.[7]

[edit]Success

Operation Barga was successful in enumerating the Bargadars. Over the period 1977-90, the fraction of registered sharecroppers rose from 23 to 65%. During the same period of time in West Bengal, there was expansion in public and private irrigation and there was technological change as well. These reforms, along with the guaranteed crop share and bargadar's increased stake in the land led to an increase in agricultural output. A sample survey by Banerjee and Ghatak [1996] estimated that Operation Barga accounted for about 36% of total growth in agricultural production during this period, a significant fraction. The survey noted that while only 10% of all tenants had output shares that exceeded 50% in the pre-reform period. Post-reform, about half of all registered tenants and even a quarter of all unregistered tenants had shares that exceeded 50%.[2]
By the end of 1982 about 12 lakh sharecroppers were recorded, out of the total estimated number of about 20-35 lakhs.[3][7] By the end of June, 1994 around 14.6 lakh bargadars had been recorded over an area of over 451,800 hectares. The most remarkable achievement of the programme, as reported in the 1986-88 study, was that it enhanced social status of the bargadars and security of tenancy.[7]
The change in the tenancy condition in the state through Operation Barga has brought some degree of economic stability among farmers. Unlike in other Indian states, West Bengal has hardly seen any farmer suicides or starvation deaths arising from crop failure. Operation Barga and the distribution of surplus land among the marginal, poor and backward castes have created a cushion against farmers committing suicide because of the fear of money lenders or landlords taking away all the produce.[8]

[edit]Criticism

Operation Barga (and West Bengal's land reforms in general) have been criticized for their small scope and inability to solve all the major problems. This criticism has been mainly due to policies not accounting for the high landmass-population ratio in Bengal (the highest in the country), the small and highly segregated land holding patterns and failure of the Government to develop agri-industrial markets for farm produce. These failures, critics contend, have distributed poverty rather than creating prosperity. They point out that in spite of these measures, Bengal's agricultural infrastructure and financial situation is no better than in most other states.[8]
The analysis of Op Barga carried out in 1986-88 in the 3 districts mentioned above concluded that Operation Barga, while partly successful in bringing about a change in the tenancy pattern, did not succeed in augmenting production and productivity on the barga land where the bargadars had been receiving the stipulated crop share. Furthermore, entrepreneurship continue to remain low because of the inherent conflict of interest in crop sharing mechanism coupled with the fact that the bargadars were not adequately trained in this area.[7]
The study also noted that the unsatisfactory performance of these bargadars (even those who received their crop share as stipulated in the Act) was due to their poor resource base and lack of access to modern technology and to capital market with the resultant inability to acquire material resources. Moreover, the imperfections in input markets also generally contributed to the poor performance of the bargadars.[7]Operation Barga was also criticized for being anti-landowner, and providing some draconian measures that could be misused.
Additionally, there are recent reports that have indicated that the success of Operation Barga has not continued after its demise. The National Sample Survey (NSS) data of 1999 has reported that only 30.6 per cent of all sharecroppers were registered, and that there was a "distinct class bias".[6] Such a class bias, and the involvement of only the more influential among the agricultural class,[3] has led to a creation of "rural rich", while the poorer sections and backward castes have been comparatively marginalized in terms of effectiveness of this program.[9]Studies have also noted that the landlords continued to own the largest holdings in the villages and the value of their holdings increased substantially.[9]
In 2003, a comprehensive survey by the West Bengal State Institute of Panchayats & Rural Development (SIPRD) warned that as much as 14.37 per cent of registered bargadars had been dispossessed of their barga land, 26.28 per cent were suffering from a sense of insecurity that they might lose it in the near future, and 13.23 per cent of pattadars had also been alienated of the land they had received.[10][11] For example, in Singur, during the protests against the Tata Nano car project, the West Bengal government Status Report noted that for 37 registered bargadars in the 997-acre (4.03 km2) project area there were 170 unregistered ones.[10]

[edit]Restarting in 2008

In the face of criticisms of land reforms after Op Barga and their lack of success, along with the diminishing bargadar list, the West Bengal government announced in October 2008 that it would re-launch Operation Barga.[10] This was reportedly an effort by the CPI(M) government to woo rural voters before the Panchayat elections (which the CPI(M) subsequently lost). Land Reforms Minister Abdul Rezzak Molla admitted in the state assembly that about 20-27% of bargadars had lost their recorded rights as sharecroppers.[10]

[edit]References

  1. a b c d e f Tim Hanstad, Robin Nielsen, West Bengal's Bargadars and LandownershipRural Development Institute, 21 February 2004.
  2. a b c Operation Barga - report by Theorie Et Applications en Microeconomie et Macroeconomie (TEAM) (Read online).
  3. a b c d e f g Suhas Chattopadhyay, Operation Barga: A comment, JSTOR: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 14, No. 49, 8 December 1979.
  4. a b c Sudipta Bhattacharyya, West Bengal: rural transformation since 1977Ganashakti, 1999.
  5. a b c Paramjit Singh, Gurpreet Bal, Strategies of Social Change in India, pp. 148, M.D. Publications, 1996. ISBN 8175330066, 9788175330061.
  6. a b Pranava K. Chaudhary, Operation Barga ends in a whimperTimes of India, 14 September 2002.
  7. a b c d e Impact of Tenancy Reforms on Production and Income Distribution - A Case Study of Operation barga in West Bengal., National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research.
  8. a b Did Operation Barga save Bengal farmers?Financial Express, April 17, 2006.
  9. a b Nirmalya Banerjee, Disparity in Operation Barga not declinedTimes of India, 5 January 2002.
  10. a b c d Nilanjan Dutta, Barga BluesHardNews.com, 23 October 2008.
  11. ^ The SIPRD study said, "Though Operation Barga is being extended from time to time, it is a paper extension only. The methodology as originally devised, that is, evening meetings to motivate the bargadars, spot enquiries into petitions for barga recording, etc., is no longer adopted by the revenue officials. Again, with the passage of time, the grassroots level democratic institutions, that is, panchayats and the peasant organisations etc. seem to have lost interest in the programme initially evinced by them. The methodology of Operation Barga having fallen in disuse and the thrust on recording petered out, the recording has been rendered a routine with its rate suffering a downward slide."

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