As Chhattisgarh Goes to Polls, Farmers Say They’ve Been Forgotten

The Quint speaks to farmers in Chhattisgarh to understand their issues and their demands ahead of polls.

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Elections in Chhattisgarh's 90 seats are being held in two phases. The first phase of polling was held on 12 November in the Naxal-affected 18 constituencies, and the remaining 72 constituencies will vote on 20 November.

The Quint spoke to farmers in Chhattisgarh to understand their issues and their demands, and ask them which party will they vote for in the upcoming elections.

In Chhattisgarh, paddy is grown in abundance, but the farmlands are still bare. Ram Kumar Sahu, a farmer, says no crop has been harvested in the 11 acres of land that belongs to him in Maro village for the last 4 years. He says:

“The crops perished because there wasn’t enough rain. The crops had grown, but the lack of water destroyed them. I have two tube wells on this plot but neither of them has water despite being 450 feet deep.” 

Anger Against the Govt

Ram Kumar Sahu is not the only farmer who is disappointed with the BJP-led state government. Erratic monsoon showers in the state have led to irregular water supply. A report by the Hindustan Times said that 96 tehsils of the state’s 21 districts were drought-affected in September 2017.

Farmers say that they have appealed to the state government to build a canal but their demands have been ignored.

“If we ask a minister for a water channel, they say that the river is very far from here whereas the Shivnath river is just 9 km away. If water could be supplied through a channel from the Shivnath river, farmers’ lives in this region would be very easy. Water scarcity has led to perpetual drought in this area. This is affecting farmers.”
Sunil Kumar, Farmer, Bemetra

Unfulfilled Promises

Prior to the 2014 general elections, the BJP government had promised farmers minimum support price (MSP) for paddy at Rs 2,100/quintals, and an additional Rs 300 as bonus. But the farmers say that they did not get anything.

A representative for the farmers in Mungeli, tells The Quint:

“If you talk about the MSP, it works against farmers. During elections, we are told that we will get Rs 2,000. Then, we don’t get anything for the next three years. Then suddenly, they say they will give it for one year. We must ask (Chief Minister) Raman Singh whether he is giving Rs 2,000 for one year, two years or for four years.”
Anand Mishra, Farmer, Mungeli

1,500 Farmer Suicides in Chhattisgarh

Farmers in Chhattisgarh, where 70% of the state’s population is dependent on farming and agriculture, are particularly vulnerable to drought. According to government figures, 1,500 farmers committed suicide in the last three years in the state.

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