Hyderabad: Scores of farmers met leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Bhatti Vikramarka Mallu at his 14 Raitulatho Mukha Mukhi (face to face interactions with farmers), much on the lines of the Kisan Mahapanchayats of northern India and poured their hearts out on the challenges they face and their unheard grievances.
Mr Bhatti has undertaken a yatra, ‘Polam Bata, Poru Bata’ (walk to farms, walk to fight), wherein he is covering vast tracts of the state to elicit farmers’ views of the farm laws brought by the Central government, besides their welfare under the TRS government.
The long walk and interactions with farmers has succeeded in bringing out real problems faced by farmers of the state, said Mr Bhatti.
Farmers have been thronging to meet Bhatti at every village centre, pouring their anger against the three farm bills, which they say is “aimed at corporatizing Indian farming, benefitting only the rich”.
“The farmers of Telangana spoke in one voice against the farm laws, making it clear that these three new legislations will only make them subservient to corporates. Farmers said that when they took their produce to nearby procurement centre, they never received commensurate price. What is the guarantee that they will benefit by taking it and selling it in faraway places?” Mr Bhatti said.
The main worry of the farmers is the scrapping of Minimum Support Price (MSP), he said. Farmers told the Congress leader that they are terrified to imagine a situation where their produce has to be sold without a guarantee of an MSP.
“This move will be disastrous for farmers, forcing them to beg for a better price in front of big corporations,” they told the CLP leader.
Ashok, a farmer from Bheemsari village in Adilabad district said that both Telangana and Central governments have been avoiding payment of premiums of “Fasal Bima” (crop insurance) by blaming each other, highlighting a real problem faced by Telangana farmers.
Kishtayya, another farmer wondered how marginal farmers can transport their yield to markets elsewhere, as the new farm law says that farmers can sell their produce anywhere in the country.
The farmers urged the CLP leader to impress on the TRS government to continue input subsidy scheme for farmers, along with Rytu Bandhu scheme that provided them cash incentives.
Farmers Bhim Reddy and Sanjiv Reddy of Deepayiguda said, “the State government till yesterday was saying it would purchase every single grain from farmers’ door steps. Now, under the garb of the Central regulation, the TRS government is telling farmers to take their produce and sell it in other markets.”
Rising the issue of agrarian distress and protection of farmers, leaders of Rytu Swarajya Vedika told Bhatti that 262 farmers of the district have committed suicide since 2014. None of these farmers have received any ex-gratia, they said.
The mood was no different in another North Telangana district Karimnagar. Thousands of farmers met the senior Congress leader and registered their protest against the new laws.
Shankar a farmer from Eklaspur said that the centre and State governments are cheating farmers who form 80 per cent of the Indian population.
Gaddam Kumar of Adavi Srirampur wanted to know how the farmers can be protected from the middlemen once the IKP (Indira Kranti Patham) purchasing centres are removed and the farmers are left in the open, unprotected.
Farmers Mohan Reddy and Meda Lakshman demanded the government to continue the IKP (Indira Kranthi Padham) purchasing centres for the protection of the poor farmers. A woman farmer from Mutyampet of Korutla Mandal (block) raised the issue of transport costs and said that farmers are not in a position to pay for transport.
In Nizamabad the farmers highlighted the issue of lack of MSP for agricultural produce. Shiva of Nagapur and Kishta raised the issue of lack of support price for turmeric. Saireddy of Nandiwada said new laws will turn farmers into beggars.
In Medak, once called “Metuku Seema”, Dakanna of Raipalli showed his harvested tomato crop, saying, “there is no one to purchase this perishable commodity. How can I take the vegetable to a faraway market and sell?”
“If I fail to find someone to buy the crop, I might have to dump the tomatoes on the road,” he said, crying helplessly.
Across Vikarabad, Jadcherla, Kalwakurty, Nalgonda and Khammam, Telangana farmers were in unison demanding continuation of the MSP.
Addressing the farmers, Mr Bhatti said, “farmers cannot live in a safe zone as long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruled at the Centre and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao in Telangana.”