By Suparno Satpathy*
Though this is year 2015 but in Odisha ( not Orissa) it seems we are back in the year 1915. No this is not a plot out of the Michel J Fox blockbuster movie series ‘Back to the Future’.
Should you pick one of the epics of Odia literature ‘Mati ra Manisaha’ you will relate to it as if it was a current day story. The gross neglect to the agriculture sector in recent times is ‘THE’ main reason for so many Farmers committing suicide in several parts of Odisha.
At Sankulei village of Dhenkanal dist. a small time farmer Baidhar Pradhan commits suicide. A few like me who are supposedly called public intellectuals or social activists brought it out with the media and only after that did the district administration get to learn about this unfortunate & sad incident. Further heart numbing is that the internal Govt. report submitted with the RDC, reads the reason for suicide as financial / family dispute & not crop loss. Whereas the ‘truth’ is there has been a massive loss to crop in the area, which lead to no produce, no sale, no money, nonpayment of loans which Baidhar had taken, financial disputes, leading to loss of face in the society, to family dispute, to depression and finally pushing the man to take the drastic step of ending his own life. Just because the bosses in Bhubaneswar wanted a report favoring their theory that there are no or very few farmer suicides in Odisha the district administration was made to omit important parts of the flow of events in their reporting.
Is this how a democratically elected government suppose to work? As far as I remember the constitution of India reads ‘Government’ as ‘By the people-of the people -for the people’. Is this the reason our previous generations sacrificed their lives for India’s freedom? The above mentioned true story is no different from that which can be pulled out of the writings of Padma Bhushan Kalindi Charan Panigrahi , which were worded in the 1930s or 40s. Nothing much has really changed in Odisha.
I find it extremely difficult to explain to city breed youngsters that the ‘farmer’ is the most important person in the chain of our society as it is he/she who produces food for our survival. Nothing , I mean nothing really matters if there is no food. I sincerely hope your understanding of this point is good.
In the backdrop of such a grave situation of Farmer after farmer committing suicide, the current day Government of Odisha, I am told has cleared a process called Land Bank creation by IDCO- Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha. IDCO was originally incorporated envisaging facilitation for Industrial development in Odisha, however over a period of time it transformed into a ‘property dealer’ as it charges a commission for acquiring & consolidating land for Industries. After this clearance by GoO, a handful of IDCO officers will be vested with unprecedented power to decide on their own & permanently part with ‘public’ land for the interest of companies. Most importantly large numbers of land with the Government of Odisha, which IDCO is now suppose to write into this ‘land bank’ are litigated in full or has chunks of land within these pieces of Govt. land which are litigated. Ironically this litigation is mostly with farmers.
Just like the East India Co. officers didn’t blink an eye before ordering a mass murder for their vested interest , it seems that the present day Government of Odisha is working with this as their hidden agenda – ‘Let the farmers die, so that we can sell their land’.
(Picture Courtsey: www.iamin.in)
*The author Shri. Suparno Satpathy is a noted socio-political leader and the Chairman of SNSMT.