सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Emerging from near bondage conditions get land, how tribals moved to natural farming

By Bharat Dogra 

It had been a tiring day for the dalit labourers in the farms and now they were getting some much-needed rest in their huts. The pots with modest servings of pulse and some hot rotis were almost ready, much awaited by their empty stomachs.
Just then some tendu leaf contractors appeared with their men. They told the dalits that no questions are to be asked, all workers must leave immediately for tendu leaf collection as this had already been delayed. The workers here were reluctant to leave as they were paid very poorly in this work. Secondly, they were very hungry just now and needed some food. Thirdly, they were tired of being treated as bonded workers. A social activist Gopal had told them that bonded labour had been legally abolished and they were entirely free to decide where to work and where to refuse.
However the tendu leaf collectors were in no mood to accept ‘no’ for an answer. When they saw that the workers were reluctant to move, they started kicking the utensils and in the process the freshly cooked food was spoiled. The workers remained hungry.
When Gopal learned about this incident the next day he rushed to the local DM Mr.T Blah. This senior official was very firm about protecting the legal rights of the poor. He took a firm stand that very strict action will be taken against the offenders. This was perhaps the first known incident here in which the dominant dadus of the area apologized.
Relating this incident which took place over four decades back, Gaya Prasad Gopal says that when he helped to form a voluntary organization the ABSSS and this started working among the tribal community of Kols, the dalits as well as other weaker sections, their first priority was to ensure that the system of bonded workers was entirely abolished, not just on paper but in practice too. This included rehabilitation work and ensuring that the government funds meant for freed bonded workers reached them. The second stage was to ensure that the weaker section households, particularly from the tribal and dalit communities, were actually able to occupy and cultivate the land pattas they had been provided. The third stage was to take up a lot of water and soil conservation and land improvement work, including watershed work, so that the productivity of the small plots of land can increase.
Gopal says, “It is the first two stages which are more difficult. So some people ignore this. However as long as the poorest households remain landless they cannot benefit from the various soil and water conservation and land development schemes. This is why we prioritized that they should first be able to gain control of and cultivate the land allotted to them. Then in the next stage we took up various soil and water conservation works then this work could also benefit the landless.”
Most of the work of the ABSSS over the last 45 years has been concentrated in the Patha area of Chitrakut district which has been regarded as one of the most water-scarce areas of Uttar Pradesh. Pathetic stories of thirsty people and animals searching for water in scorching summer have been told time and again. A lot of potentially cultivated land, particularly the 'pattas' distributed to the poorest households, remained barren due to lack of water and moisture. The situation worsened during the drought years.
It is in this distressing situation that the ABSSS (Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Seva Sansthaan) made several well-planned and well-implemented efforts to conserve and harvest rain water which brought hope to several villages of Manikpur block and some neighbouring areas. These small projects together present a very hopeful pictures of what small-scale water harvesting projects when implemented honestly and skilfully can achieve even in very difficult conditions.
Three projects taken up in Mangavaan, Ittwa and Tikariya panchayats were supported by Dorabji Tata Trust, NABARD and the District Rural Development Agency respectively. These achieved very good results at a relatively low cost and what is more, the bulk of the budget was spent on making wage payments to the to the poorest families in these villages. The ABSSS also won a prestigious national award for its water conservation work. The leadership role of Bhagwat Prasad, the then director of the ABSSS, contributed much to this success, but the tragic death of Bhagwat Prasad at a young age was the biggest setback for the ABSSS in recent times.
These workers were employed in highly labour-intensive work of bunding and contour-bunding, contour trenches, creating new water tanks and restoring old ones, check dams, farm ponds, gully plugs, land-levelling and tree-planting etc. to harvest and conserve rainwater. The broad aim of all these works, taken up on a ridge-to-valley approach, is to slow down and check the rainfall water as it flows down plateau slopes, so that as much as possible water can be conserved or contributes to groundwater recharge. Manual methods are used to the maximum extent possible and machines are brought in - with the consultation of villagers - only when this becomes unavoidable.
This is a win-win situation as about 60 per cent of the funds directly reached the poorest local families in the form of wage payments and as a result of water and moisture conservation, conditions for short-term as well as longer-term improvements in agriculture, animal husbandry and agro-forestry improved. Water-table in the wells in and around these villages increased and there is more greenery. To a lesser or greater extent, almost all the ten thousand people living in the three watershed areas benefit from this effort, as do the nearly four thousand farm animals and many wild animals and birds. Better availability of water in at least a few tanks and ponds is a big boon for all animals and birds, who earlier faced a harrowing time in scorching summers.
In addition there are several even smaller projects which were implemented on shoestring budgets but have yielded benefits for a long time. The pond in Harijanpur village was created about 4 decades back, but has continued to irrigate fields of nearly 70 poor families, mostly dalits, even now. This was created under the Food for Work program by those days, involving the cooperation of the government with two voluntary organizations.
Patha has been facing adverse weather conditions for several years from time to time. These projects have been planned to provide at least some protection even in low rainfall years. Overall conditions of moisture conservation are helped further by farming methods which can work well in conditions of less water availability.
Farmers' groups and self-help groups helped to make available timely advice and resources to farmers. Watershed and livelihood committees were formed and transparent systems of functioning ensured that workers were well-informed and satisfied with their payment.
However the most important factor which helped in getting better benefits for the poorest Kol tribal households is that the ABSSS had earlier carried out a successful campaign for distribution of land among them. As Gaya Prasad Gopal, the founder of ABSSS says, "This effort helped many of these families to emerge from near bondage conditions and get some land, but a significant part of this land could not be cultivated due to water-stress in panchayats like Mangavaan. It was only with the improved water and moisture availability which the watershed projects achieved that this land could be cultivated properly."
As Ramkali of Harijanpur village says, “The land which could not be cultivated earlier could be cultivated now while the yield of other land improved significantly.”
As per the detailed records maintained by the ABSSS, during the course of the Mangavaan watershed project, area under kharif crop went up from just 3% of the total cultivable area in 2007 to 30% in 2011, while the area under rabi crop went up from 47% to 90%. Production of paddy increased from 6170 kg. to 52081 kg. Production of wheat increased from 112610 kgs. to 495750 kg. Similarly there were big increases in the production of mustard, gram, til and vegetables. Thousands of trees were planted, but survival rate was below expectation due to difficulties of uncontrolled grazing. However a beautiful plantation in Tikariya emerged as an oasis of greenery with its anvla, mango, guava, bel, lemon and karonda trees spread over 11 acres.
Despite a few setbacks and many hurdles, on the whole these projects brought new hope to an area where due to increasing difficulties and droughts many people were turning away from agriculture. In an impressive turnaround, now farmers including the poorest tribals are cultivating more land and with growing greenery and moisture there is more hope for future.
More recently, these gains could increase further because of collaborative effort with SRIJAN organization involving water conservation and natural farming. Under this effort several water tanks were desilted and this silt was provided free to the fields of various farmers to improve the fertility of these farms. At the same time natural farming practices were spread which helped to improve the sustainability and environmental safety of farming while reducing costs significantly. Yield and income levels were improved by introducing several scientific practices, multi-layer vegetable farming and small orchards.
Apart from initiating its own development work, during an earlier phase of its work the ABSSS was quite active also in initiating several efforts to improve the access of the poorest households to government schemes and in improving the working of panchayats. These initiatives had progressed much under the PACS programme.
However despite such efforts the grim reality cannot be ignored that at a wider level in this and neighbouring areas, poverty and deprivation still exist in serious forms and many workers are forced to migrate to work in exploitative conditions which in some extreme cases can take the form of bonded labour type conditions. The ABSSS has continued its concerns with the abolition of bonded labour by taking up the rescue and rehabilitation of several such workers and helping them in various ways to find satisfactory livelihoods in and around their home-villages.
Another abiding concern of the ABSSS has been to ensure that the children of the poorest households are not left behind in education. If children of some of the poorest households including migrant workers could not go to schools or needed special educational support due to some reasons, the ABSSS started special schools for them within their village. These efforts as well as pre-formal school education for small children are still continuing. Several students who could complete their school education due to these efforts are now going in for higher education or else already have government jobs or have progresses well in other fields.
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The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Man over Machine and India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

दाँव उल्टा पड़ा: राहुल गांधी के रूप में हम एक साधारण इंसान को नायक होते देख रहे हैं

-  अमिता नीरव  संघ औऱ बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी पर जो सोचकर ‘इन्वेस्ट’ किया था, उसके परिणाम गंभीर रूप से नुकसानदेह आ रहे हैं। ये थोड़ी अटपटी बात लग सकती है, लेकिन सोचिएगा कि संघ और बीजेपी ने राहुल गाँधी को जितना गंभीरता से लिया, उनकी संभावनाओं को लेकर वे जितना श्योर थे, उतना तो खुद राहुल और कांग्रेस भी नहीं थी।

બે-રોકટોક રણ અભયારણ્ય વિસ્તારમાં માફિયાઓનું અન-અધિકૃત અને ગેર-કાયદેસર પ્રવૃત્તિઓ

- અગરિયા હિત રક્ષક મંચ  કચ્છના નાના રણમાં શિકારપૂર, કાનમેર રણ વિસ્તારમાં જમીન માફિયા જુથ વચ્ચેની આંધાધૂંધ ગોળીબાર થયો તેમાં એક વ્યક્તિ નો જીવ ગયો. આ ઘટનાથી ફરી એકવાર કચ્છના નાના રણની જમીન પર ગેરકાયદેસર કબજો કરી તેનો સોદો કરનારા જૂથો, ટોળીઓની વાત ચર્ચામાં આવી છે. 

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

राम के महल में आग लगाता हनुमान: चर्चित सोशल मीडिया इनफ्लुएंसर दिलीप मंडल

- प्रमोद रंजन  चर्चित सोशल मीडिया इनफ्लुएंसर दिलीप मंडल ने अचानक राजनीतिक पलटी मारी है और राजद-सपा-स्टालिन आदि के खेमे को छोड़ कर राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के लिए बैटिंग करने लगे हैं। कई लोगों में उनके कथित पतन से दु:ख खीज और गुस्सा है।

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

આપણા સમાજમાં દીકરીના માતપિતાનો દરજ્જો દીકરાના માતાપિતા કરતાં નિમ્ન કક્ષાનો કેમ?

- તૃપ્તિ શેઠ  થોડાંક દિવસ પહેલાં એક દુકાનમાં ખરીદી કરવાં ગઈ અને એ બહેન જે દુકાન પર બેઠાં હતાં એ ફોન પર વાતો જ કર્યા કરતાં હતાં . હું કંટાળીને આગળ જવા ગઈ તો એ મને કહે , "સોરી !  મારી મમ્મીને હું રોજ આ સમયે ફોન કરું છું કેમ કે એ મંદિરમાં રહે છે અને ત્યાં ઈલેક્ટ્રિસિટી નથી. એ પાંચ રૂપીઆમાં ફોન રોજ ચાર્જ કરાવે અને મારી સાથે વાત કરે." મે પૂછ્યું તારી મમ્મી કેમ એકલી રહે છે, તો એનો જવાબ હતો કે મારા બે ભાઈઓએ મારી મમ્મીને એના ઘરમાંથી કાઢી મૂકી છે એટલે એક ગામના છેવાડે આવેલાં મંદિરમાં રહે છે અને ત્યાં કામ કરે છે . મે કહ્યું ,” તું કેમ તારી મમ્મીની બોલાવી લેતી નથી ? “ તો મને કહે, મારી મા કહે છે કે છોકરીને ઘરે પાણી પણ પીએ તો  પાપ લાગે. 

તત્વચિંતક રાજનીતિજ્ઞ મોદીનાં લોકસભાની ચૂંટણી સંદર્ભે મહાન વ્યાખ્યાનો પ્રકાશિત કરવા જોઈએ

- ઉત્તમ પરમાર  વિશ્વના મહાન તત્વચિંતક રાજનીતિજ્ઞ અને આપણા મહાન વડાપ્રધાન આદરણીય નરેન્દ્રભાઈ મોદી 2024ની લોકસભાની ચૂંટણી સંદર્ભે જે જાહેર વ્યાખ્યાનો આપી રહ્યા છે, એ માત્ર ભારતના વડાપ્રધાનોના નહીં પરંતુ વિશ્વના વડાપ્રધાનોના પ્રવચનો પૈકી સર્વશ્રેષ્ઠ પ્રવચનો છે.

एक बहुत बड़ा झूठ: मुसलमानों की आबादी बढ़ती रही तो हिन्दू अल्पसंख्यक बन जाएंगे

- राम पुनियानी  चुनावी मौसम जैसे-जैसे समाप्ति की ओर बढ़ रहा है, वैसे-वैसे समाज को बांटने वाला प्रचार भी अपने चरम पर पहुँच रहा है. भाजपा के मुख्य प्रचारक स्वयं प्रधानमंत्री मोदी है. इस चुनाव में उनका पूरा नैरेटिव इस झूठ के  आसपास बुना गया है कि अगर इंडिया गठबंधन सत्ता में आया तो वह सारी सुविधाएं और लाभ केवल मुसलमानों को देगा. हर चीज़ पर मुसलमानों का पहला हक होगा और संविधान में इस तरह के बदलाव किये जाएंगे जिससे हिन्दू इस देश के दूसरे दर्जे के नागरिक बन जाएंगे. मोदीजी हमें जॉर्ज ऑरवेल के उपन्यास “नाइनटीन एट्टी-फोर”  की याद दिलाता है, जिसमें सच को सिर के बल खड़ा कर दिया जाता है. हिन्दुओं में यह डर पैदा किया जा रहा है कि देश में मुसलमान सारे विशेषाधिकार हासिल कर लेंगे.

हीट-एक्शन नीति में अनौपचारिक व खुले-में-कार्यरत मजदूरों को शामिल नहीं करना निंदनीय

- नेशनल अलायन्स ऑफ़ पीपुल्स मूवमेंट्स  पूरे भारत में 'चुनावी गर्मी' ज़ोर पकड़ चुकी है, जो हम सभी को साफ़-साफ़ दिखाई भी दे रही है। हालाँकि, एक और गर्मी है जो नागरिकों, विशेष रूप से करोड़ों खुले में काम करने वाले श्रमिकों को प्रभावित करती है, यह न तो 'चुनावी मुद्दा' है और न ही इस पर सामाजिक रूप से पर्याप्त ध्यान दिया जाता है। भारत के ग्रामीण और शहरी दोनों हिस्सों में मेहनतकश लोग, जो चिलचिलाती धूप में भी हमारे गाँवों और शहरों के लिए अनाज पैदा करते हैं, हर तरह का निर्माण कार्य करते हैं, शहरों व गांवों को चलाते हैं, हमें विभिन्न प्रकार की सेवाएँ प्रदान करें, लेकिन इसी वर्ग का अभी तक 'मुख्यधारा' के जलवायु न्याय और नीतिगत विमर्श में पर्याप्त रूप से प्रतिनिधित्व नहीं किया गया है।