Sunday, February 28, 2010

And yet another pro-farmer budget-Is that the reality? -P. Sainath

And yet another pro-farmer budget-Is that the reality? -P. Sainath--The Hindu

The budget promises to be farmer-friendly. Is that the reality?

This is a budget crafted for, and perhaps by, the corporate farmer and agribusiness.

***The real heroes of India's success story were our farmers. Through their hard work, they ensured “food security” for the country.— Pranab Mukherjee, interim budget speech Feb. 16, 2009

*** This Budget belongs to 'Aam Aadmi'. It belongs to the farmer, the agriculturist, the entrepreneur and the investor. — Pranab Mukherjee, budget speech, Feb. 26, 2010

Gee! Another pro-farmer budget. Going by the media, every budget this past decade has been one. Editorials across ten years have always found “a new thrust” to agriculture that spelt “good news” for the farmer. Rarely mentioned are the massive subsidies, now larger than ever before, for the Corporate sector. This year alone, the budget gifts over Rs. 500,000 crore in write-offs, direct and indirect, to the Big Boys. That's Rs. 57 crore every single hour on average — almost a crore a minute. Beating last year's Rs. 30 crore an hour by more than 70 per cent. (See Tables 5 and 12 of the “Statement of Revenue Foregone” section of the budget.) Maybe the pro-farmer claim was merely a typo or proofing error. They just dropped the word “corporate” before “farmer.” Reinstate that and all is true. This is a budget crafted for, and perhaps by, the corporate farmer and agribusiness. Some television Channels set the tone for the debate before the budget in giant hoardings: Will Pranab Mukherjee function “like the CEO of India Inc., or will he behave like a politician?” The message was straight: the finance minister's job is to serve India Inc. not the people of India. A second ad in this series read: “Will FM's speech DESTROY or CREATE Market Wealth?” In the event, the Finance Minister more than lived up to their demands. The budget hands out new bonanzas for Corporate Kleptocrats. It goes further than earlier ones in pushing the private sector as prime driver of development and economy. Not the public sector. Take Mr. Mukherjee's “four-pronged strategy” for agriculture. The first of these, “agricultural production,” could mean anything. The other three are a goldmine for large corporations, not the countless millions of small and marginal farmers who produce India's food. Take “Reduction in wastage of produce.” This means more big bucks for companies setting up storage facilities. Take this together with the related “Credit Support to farmers.” Already, an Ambani or a Godrej can set up a cold storage in Mumbai and get agricultural rates of credit for it. That's thanks to our re-jigging of what “agricultural credit” and “priority sector lending” mean. This budget takes that process further. More and more of “agricultural” credit will go not to farmers but corporations. Indeed, “even External Commercial Borrowings will henceforth be available for cold storage or cold room facility.” The budget even says: “Changes in the definition of infrastructure under the ECB policy are being made” to foster this process. Some of those changes have already happened. Several of the loans disbursed as “agricultural credit” are in excess of Rs. 10 crore and even Rs. 25 crore. And even as loans of this size steadily grew in number between 2000 and 2006, agricultural loans of less than Rs. 25,000 fell by more than half in the same period. (See Revival of Agricultural Credit in the 2000s: An Explanation. R. Ramakumar and Pallavi Chavan, EPW December 29, 2007.) Met any subsistence farmers taking out Rs. 25 crore loans lately? Nor will it be small or marginal farmers availing of the “full exemption from customs duty to refrigeration units required for the manufacture of refrigerated vans or trucks.” Nor is the “infusion of technology” proclaimed going to help them. The budget promises “appropriate banking facilities” in every village with a population of over 2000. Since 1993, the number of rural branches of scheduled commercial banks has steadily fallen, even as the rural population has grown. So taken together with the licenses to be given out to private operators, this means the new branches will be those of private banks. Not one of whom has an iota of interest in small and marginal farmers. Nor are they bound by the social banking obligations that once guided the nationalised sector. “A thrust to the food processing sector” is exactly the same. More cash for big companies. You know who the “state-of-the-art infrastructure” will be built for — with public money. Of the many claims the media have dished out for weeks now, none is more absurd than the fiction that farmers have gained massively from soaring food prices. And that rural India is doing so well, its saving the rest of us. (And doing that on a projected growth of minus 0.2 per cent). Higher MSPs certainly helped ease pressure. So have higher global prices for some products in a few cases - briefly. But with higher food prices, with retail prices rising many times faster than wholesale, where does the farmer begin to benefit? Farm gate prices are way below those of even the wholesale markets. Further, over 70 per cent of Indian farmers are net purchasers of foodgrain. (Between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of the average Indian farm household's monthly per capita expenditure goes on food.) Huge rises in food prices crush them. Remember the excuse trotted out for letting Big Retail sell agricultural produce? It would do away with the “middleman,” giving farmers and consumers a better deal. Yet prices of fresh produce are costlier at big retail's outlets. You still get a better deal from the petty vendor on the street. Often, that pathetic “middleman” they're crushing is a poor woman street vendor. The last and weakest link in the chain of intermediaries between farmer and public. The new middlemen wear suits. The ‘higher-prices-benefit-farmers' mob seems clueless about what has happened with cultivation costs. It took Rs. 2,500, for instance, to cultivate an acre of cotton in Vidarbha in 1991. Rs. 13,500 in 2006-07 and Rs. 18,000 to Rs. 20,000 today. (Counting family labour and like costs). The 'gains' from these higher costs are cornered by the corporate world in sectors like seed, fertiliser and pesticide. Soaring input costs have been crucial to farm bankruptcies, debt and suicides. The looming cuts in fertiliser subsidies won't spark rural euphoria either. An incentive to repay loans on time — which millions of farmers cannot do — is being passed off as an additional subsidy to the aam kisan in this budget. And there is still an air of self-congratulation on the Rs. 70,000-crore farm loan waiver of 2008. A one-off waiver that comes once in so many decades. Yet revenue foregone in this budget in direct tax concessions to corporate tax payers is close to Rs. 80,000 crores. It was over Rs. 66,000 crore last year. And Rs. 62,000 crore the year before that. In all, Rs. 2,08,000 crores of direct freebies in 36 months. Consider that this loot-and-grab sortie has been on for two decades now. It means that in direct tax freebies alone the corporate sector has had the equivalent of some 15 'farm loan waivers' since 1991. Then there's the indirect stuff. In this year's budget: Revenue foregone in excise duty — Rs. 1,70,765 crores. Customs duty — Rs.2,49,021 crores. Together with the Rs.80,000 crore in direct write-offs, the total nears Rs. 500,000 crores. The media's shameless lobbying for Corporate “wishlists” began weeks before the budget. A class and vested interest analysis of the writers, panels, discussants, “experts” (and anchors) would be edifying. Budget time is when Big media are seen for what they are: stenographers to the powerful. Ill-informed aam aadmi rants in the streets are quickly 'balanced' by ‘the experts.' Sure, there is, in a few panels, the odd dissenter. This discussant the anchor always turns to with a wry smile of amused tolerance. The unstated message to viewers: “here's this whacko with his loony left delusions. Accept him as the comic relief in what are otherwise serious discussions.” Never mind that some of these deluded dissenters warned — correctly — of the type of crisis that shook the world in 2008. Not one of the “experts” ever came within miles of predicting that meltdown. They were in fact proclaiming the Golden Age to be upon us when their babble hit the fan. But no questions on their competence. Many of the “experts” have direct ties to large corporations and peddle their interests with zest. Sometimes, with a little more sophistication than panting media hucksters who show not a trace of the scepticism their profession demands of them. Straining at the leash to beat their rivals in serving the richest 1 per cent (or less) of Indians.
Mr. Mukherjee's budget speech spouts dated World Bank babble about the “the focus of economic activity” shifting “towards the non-governmental actors.” And about “the role of Government as an enabler.” (Private corporations and football clubs also qualify as non-governmental actors, but never mind). “An enabling Government does not try to deliver directly to the citizens everything that they need. Instead it creates an enabling ethos...” His budget does that. It enables a grasping corporate world to grab more public wealth. And the entrenchment of perhaps of the most parasitic elite in the planet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Budget 2010 –FM ignored five million Drought hit Vidarbha Farmers and 50,000 Dying Farm Widows

Budget 2010 –FM ignored five million Drought hit Vidarbha Farmers and 50,000 Dying Farm Widows

Nagpur -26th feb. 2010

Five million drought hit Farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra today disappointed when their plea to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to provide more funds to restore their rural system and also control the massive corruption that is prevalent in this region due agrarian crisis has been completely ignored .

“Leave apart the special relief package as given to drought hit budelkhand (U.P.), shri Pranab Mukherjee has not even consider to provide any relief to dying 50,000 farm widows of region .the announcement in budget are peanut as concession in interest rate on crop loan is ridiculous as due to severe crop loss in drought ,all pending crop loan is being reconstructed ,more direct subsidy to micro nutrient fertilizer is also a hoax.

There is no plan in budget to address the on going agrarian crisis and isuue of food security” Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishor Tiwari informed in press release today.

“we were expecting special treatment to vidarbha as earlier prime minister relief package failed in the region and I.C.A.R recently Recommended that this region should be converted in to ‘PULSE CROP HUB’ but nothing has reflected in the budget ,we are disappointed” tiwari said

Earlier Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has demanded a special economic package of Rs300 billion in the new budget to save more than five million vidarbha farmers facing an agrarian crisis. In a letter to Mukherjee, VJAS president Kishor Tiwari had drawn the minister's attention to the pathetic conditions in Vidarbha, "which is now known as the farmers' suicide capital of India".

‘The Maharashtra government has spent over Rs3000 crore towards the irrigation backlog in the last three years and Prime Minister relief package of Rs 3750 crore followed by loan waivers failed to stop farmers suicides more over state has failed to address the basic issues of food security and health care", Tiwari added.

“Massive backwardness, lack of infrastructure and industrialisation coupled with regular power cuts and load shedding, tribal starvation, malnutrition and the complete failure of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the National Rural Health Mission has made Vidarbha "slaves of western Maharashtra and Mumbai", said a frustrated Tiwari in recent interview .

VJAS urged Smt.Sonia Gandhi intervention in the matter in order to save 5 million dying vidarbha farmers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vidarbha farmers petition minister for more funds-want state to deal with corruption-Gulf News Reports

World | India
  • Gulf News

Vidarbha farmers petition minister for more funds

They also want state to deal with corruption

  • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 February 26, 2010

Mumbai: Farmers in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, are asking Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to provide more funds to restore their rural system and also control the massive corruption that is prevalent in this region.

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a non-government outfit representing farmers, has demanded a special economic package of Rs300 billion (Dh23.7 billion) in the new budget to save more than three million cotton farmers facing an agrarian crisis. In a letter to Mukherjee, VJAS president Kishor Tiwari has drawn the minister's attention to the pathetic conditions in Vidarbha, "which is now known as the farmers' suicide capital of India".

The Maharashtra government has spent over Rs30 billion towards the irrigation backlog in the last three years and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had announced a Vidarbha relief package of Rs37.5 billion followed by loan waivers. Yet farmers continue to commit suicide because the "state has failed to address the basic issues of food security and health care", Tiwari told Gulf News on telephone from Nagpur.

"The last budget in 2009 was hailed as pro-poor and pro-farmer with an emphasis on food security. Big promises of providing wheat at Rs3 per kg and rice at Rs2 per kg were made but remained unfulfilled. We now want the government to implement the Right to Food Act with immediate effect."

Massive backwardness, lack of infrastructure and industrialisation coupled with regular power cuts and load shedding, tribal starvation, malnutrition and the complete failure of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the National Rural Health Mission has made Vidarbha "slaves of western Maharashtra and Mumbai", said a frustrated Tiwari.

Vagaries of nature

He hoped the finance minister had studied the problems of dry-land farmers facing the vagaries of nature as well as market forces.

Tiwari also pointed out that despite the Maharashtra government declaring 140,000 villages as drought-hit after the last "anewari" (crop yield estimate) and the administration's report showing villages were facing problems related to food, water, fodder and employment, "till date not a single person from the district administration has started relief work. Already, thousands of farmers are migrating and the situation is worse than June 2006," he said.

Tiwari also wanted the central government to monitor the funds being allocated to this region "as money is siphoned off on a massive scale.

State gets more teeth to curb moneylenders -free press journal

State gets more teeth to curb moneylenders

THE State Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Maha- rashtra Moneylenders (Rules) Act, 2009 for implementation in the state. This new act will replace the Bombay Money- lenders Act, 1946 that was amended in 2006. Since the last three years, the law had been awaiting a formal nod from the Central Government. Though the Central nod was received last year, the implementation of this Act got further delayed due to the elections held then.
Subsequently, this Act was re- introduced in the cabinet on Wednesday and formally cleared. The provisions of this Act will be announced in the form of a government resolu- tion after the nitty-gritties are worked out.

This act is being implement- ed in a bid to provide protec- tion to poor farmers burdened by money lenders who lend at exorbitant interest rates and is meant to cap the problem of farmers committing suicides.

Though this is considered to be a landmark move, activisits say that it will not be of much help in reducing suicides by farmers. Kishore Tiwari, presi- dent of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti feels that this legislation is too little and too late. "The moneylenders have already donned different garbs to exploit farmers. Now, they have opened shops of pesti- cides, fertilisers and seeds and sell them on credit at huge lending rates. Once the farmer is unable to pay back, they officially file a recovery suit against them," Tiwari told FPJ.
He explained that this legisla- tion would not have much impact because children of moneylenders are now lend- ing using this position in con- juction with multi-national firms and businessmen. This gives them official sanction to lend at exorbitant interest rates. They not just lend but also are traders for buying cot- ton and soyabean. This means that the farmer ends up com- pletely dependent on him, accuses Tiwari.


विदर्भासाठी 30 हजार कोटी हवेत- तिवारी...-सकाळ वृत्तसेवा

विदर्भासाठी 30 हजार कोटी हवेत- तिवारी
सकाळ वृत्तसेवा
Thursday, February 25, 2010 AT 12:00 AM (IST)
नागपूर - आत्महत्याग्रस्त विदर्भात विकासाच्या विविध योजना राबविण्यासाठी प्रणव मुखर्जी यांच्या आगामी केंद्रीय अर्थसंकल्पात किमान 30 हजार कोटी रुपयांची तरतूद असावी, अशी अपेक्षा येथे व्यक्त होत आहे. येत्या 26 तारखेला केंद्रीय अर्थसंकल्प मांडण्यात येणार आहे.

देशाला स्वातंत्र्य मिळाल्यापासूनच या भागाकडे केंद्र आणि राज्य सरकारचे दुर्लक्ष असून विकासाचे मोठे "पॅकेज' दिल्याशिवाय विकास होणार नाही, असे मत विदर्भ जनआंदोलन समितीने व्यक्त केले आहे. विदर्भातील सिंचनाचा अनुशेष दूर करण्यासाठी राज्य शासनाने गेल्या तीन वर्षात तीन हजार कोटी रुपये खर्च केले आहेत. परंतु, हा निधीही पुरेसा नसल्याने त्यातून काहीच निष्पन्न झाले नाही, याकडे समितीचे अध्यक्ष किशोर तिवारी यांनी लक्ष वेधले आहे. या भागाचा सिंचन, पिण्याचे पाणी आणि अन्य विकास कामांचा अनुशेष दूर करण्यासाठी अर्थसंकल्पात 30 हजार कोटी रुपयांच्या तरतुदीची आवश्‍यकता असल्याचे त्यांनी म्हटले आहे.

सन 2006 पासून राज्य शासनाने या भागात विकास कामांसाठी 5 हजार 825कोटी रकमेची दोन "पॅकेज' जाहीर करण्यात आली आहेत. त्यांतर केंद्र शासनाने 4 हजार 600 कोटी रुपयांची कर्जमाफी दिली आहे. तर राज्य शासनाने दिलेली कर्जमाफी 1 हजार 100 कोटी रुपयांची आहे. यानंतरही शेतकऱ्यांच्या आत्महत्या थांबल्या नसून विकासात मागे पडल्यामुळे वेगळ्या राज्याची मागणी पुढे येत असल्याचे तिवारी यांनी पुढे म्हटले आहे. राज्यात आतापर्यंत किमान 50 हजार शेतकऱ्यांनी आत्महत्या केल्या असून यातील बहुतांश आत्महत्या विदर्भातील आहेत. आत्महत्यांच्या या प्रदेशात शेतकऱ्यांच्या विधवा आणि त्यांच्या मुलांसाठी कोणतीही योजना नाही, असे त्यांनी म्हटले आहे.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Over 90 farmers committed suicide in Adilabad district-HINDU Reports

Date:23/02/2010 URL:

Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad

Over 90 farmers committed suicide in Adilabad district: NGO

D.V.L Padma Priya
Failure of kharif crop and mounting debts stated to be reasons

The interest rate on private loans ranges between 24 and 36 per cent

The district witnessed 15 deaths in 3 days during November

HYDERABAD: Sixty-nine farmers from Adilabad district committed suicide during the kharif season that lasted from August to November 2009 and the number grew to 93 by December 15, if reports from the non-governmental organisations and farmers’ associations in Andhra Pradesh are any indication. Failure of kharif crop and mounting debts are stated to be the reasons for the spate of suicides across the district.

A recent committee constituted by Deccan Development Society, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), PEACE, AP Rythu Sangam and other organisations recently came up with a study report that revealed the staggering number of farmer suicides.

The committee visited around eight families in various mandals, informed G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.

“In the first week of November alone, over 16 suicides were reported in vernacular newspapers and that’s when we put together this committee. The committee with the help of local media and farmers estimated that over 69 suicides had taken place during the kharif season,” he said. Confirming the report by the committee, S. Malla Reddy, vice-president, A.P. Rythu Sangham, says over 93 suicide deaths were recorded by the Sangham by December 15, 2009.

Majority of the farmers who took the extreme step had taken large amounts of private loans and micro-finance operators at high interest rate in order to cultivate cotton, revealed the report.

G. Bhojanna of Lokeshwara village in Lokeshwaram mandal of the district is one such farmer of five-acres who ended his life last November due to mounting debts incurred on his failed cotton crop.

His accrued loans of two years amounted to Rs.3.5 lakh, and every month, he had to suffer the ignominy of the moneylenders’ visits to his home, his son G. Gangaprasad, an 18-year-old college student who now spends more time as a daily-wage worker said.

Bhojanna’s widow Indramma is helping run the house now with her meagre income as a beedi worker.


The interest rate on private loans ranges between 24 and 36 per cent, informed Rajasekhara Reddy, one of the committee members.

“The microfinance companies would collect the interest amount every month. For a farmer this is a burden as farming doesn’t guarantee regular income,” he explains.

“We had brought this to the notice of the district Collector too and submitted a memorandum. However, the Collector had approved ex-gratia for only 18 deaths he considered genuine. After we submitted our list, ex-gratia was cleared for 50 farmer families,” S. Malla Reddy, vice president, Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham.

BT cotton hybrids

The report further states that though on an average 1.65 lakh hectares of land is under cotton cultivation in the district, this had increased by 20 per cent in 2009. Thus a total of 1.90 lakh hectares of land was reported to be under cotton cultivation, with almost 80 per cent of it under BT cotton hybrids, it says. The drought forced the farmers to re-seed thrice for gap filling and with each bag of cotton seed costing around Rs.750, this meant an increase in cost of cultivation, explains Mr. Rajsekhara Reddy. “The minimum cost of cultivation per acre is around Rs.12,000 so a farmer would require a harvest of six quintals per acre merely to break-even,” he points out.


Despite the minimum support price for cotton in kharif 2009 standing at Rs. 3,000, the low yield - almost half of the previous year - pushed farmers deeper into debts, the report points out.

Kodanda Reddy, member, Andhra Pradesh Kisan Cell, said the district had witnessed 15 deaths in three days in November and this too was brought to the notice of Collector.

“I visited the families personally to ascertain the facts. Majority of the farmers didn’t receive crop insurance amount and there was little intervention to stop the private lenders,” he says adding the loans were also given in kind in the form of seeds and fertilizers.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vidarbha wants Rs 30,000 crore from Mukherjee's Budget kitty-IANS

Vidarbha wants Rs 30,000 crore from Mukherjee's Budget kitty

24 Feb 2010, 1200 hrs IST, IANS

NAGPUR: Farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region are hoping for a Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) development package in Finance Minister Pranab

Mukherjee's budget, only two days away.

According to the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), in view of the neglect faced by the region since independence, it was high time the central government looks at Vidarbha seriously and announces a hefty development package.

"The Maharashtra government has spent over Rs.3,000 crore towards the irrigation backlog in the past three years, but it has failed to yield any benefit to the region," VJAS president Kishor Tiwari said.

He demanded a Rs.30,000 crore package, which would take care of the huge backlog for the region, help sustainable irrigation projects, take care of drinking water needs and other infrastructure development in the region.

Since 2006, the state government has announced two separate packages worth Rs 5,825 crore. This was followed up by a loan waiver from the central government of Rs 4,600 crore and from the state Rs.1,100 crore (the figure for this region) in 2009.

"Yet, suicides have not stopped, the region continues to be backward and the sentiments are strongly in favour of a separate state of Vidarbha," Tiwari pointed out.

According to official figures, almost 50,000 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra, of which a majority fall in the Vidarbha region.

"Despite such a large number of deaths, the state has not announced any concrete welfare measures for the farm widows, for the education of their children, employment opportunities and marriage of the girls," Tiwari said.

He urged the finance minister to display his generosity in the next budget by making a substantial allocation for the Vidarbha region.


1.25L suicides in '08, 14 every hour-Vidarbha Tops in India

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiwari urges FM to ensure justice to Vidarbha in budget-Times of India

Tiwari urges FM to ensure justice to Vidarbha in budget-Times of India

**"Western Vidarbha has emerged as the capital of farmers suicides and government aid has failed miserably to wipe the tears of the distress farmers-Kishor Tiwari**


Yavatmal-Agricultural activist and vidarbha suppotor Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jna andolan Samiti sent a fax message to Union Finance Minister Pranav Mukharjee on monday,urging him to allaocate adequate funds in coming union budget to ensure justice to the backward vidarbha region.
talking TOI.Tiwari said the region has been neglected by vested interests of western maharashtra and peoples' representatives from the region always failed to get the legal share in state resources for sppedy devlopement of the region.

'Western Vidarbha has emerged as the capital of farmers suicides and government aod has failed miserably to wipe the tears of the distress farmers'he said adding thst the state government has decleared 15,000 villages across the region as drought hit for which fund allotment is yrgently needed.

“Though the government has spent Rs.3000 crore on vidarbha for bridging the ever growing irrigation backlog in the last 3 years ,not a single acre of land could be brought under real irrigation”Tiwari alleged and said that 4 lakh families are trapped in utter distress.

“The budget should provide the provision for adequate funds to strengthen the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) AND National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)”Tiwari said added that the poor farmers of vidarbha need food security,health care,uninterrupted power supply,employment opportunities and free professional education to name few.

Vidarbha produces surplus electricity but the residents here are forced to bear the burnt of unscheduled unabated load shedding .besides bearing the transmission loss running in to crore of rupees,he furthered pointed out..

“Unless special time bound programme supported adequate budgetary allocation are ensured in the union budget vidarbha can never recover from it’s agrarian crisis”Tiwari added.




Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coal based thermal power plants to pollute Vidarbha region

In next 10 to 20 years, the Vidarbha will be the most polluted region of the country because the coal based 49 thermal power plants are coming up in the region and as per the study, coal based power plants are considered biggest sources of air pollution and emit huge quantity of Fly Ash, toxic metals like Mercury, radio activity, Sulphur di oxide and Carbon di Oxide, a green house gas a major contributor to Global warming , which means that coal based power plants can pollute entire region and contribute to global warming.

The Maharashtra Government has considered to give permission to 49 coal based thermal power plants which will generate 35,041 MW of electricity out of which 5000 MW of electricity will be generated in and around Nagpur alone. In Nagpur district Power plants are coming up at KORADI, KHAPARKHEDA, BUTIBORI, MIHAN, BHANDEWADI, MOUDA, UMRED ETC.

At present MS Power Generation Company Ltd. has installed capacity of about 9300 MW out of which 4275 MW is generated in Vidarbha Region i.e. coal based power plants located in Nagpur, Chandrapur & Akola districts. Out of these only Chandrapur Power Plant is a Pit Head power plant and rest have to depend on coal linkage from Chattisgarh and Orrisa States. The present power requirement of Vidarbha Region is only 1500 MW and balance 2775 MW is transmitted to Western Maharashtra where demand for power is very high.

Total energy generated during year 2007-08 from thermal power plants in the state was 43,174 Mega units out of which 29,127 Mega units were from Vidarbha ie over 67% power was generated in Vidarbha. The power requirement of Pune district alone is more than power requirement of whole of Vidarbha. In last few years rapid industrialization has taken place in western Maharahtra but not many industries have come up in Vidarbha. Huge demand for power is now generated in western region but very few power plants are coming up in that region this means more and more power has to be transmitted to power deficit regions and to meet the same now Vidarbha is being scarified once again.

The new thermal power plants will require 16000 lakh tons of raw water per day and burn over 7,25,000 Tons per day of Coal and generate over 2,90,000 Tons per day of Ash. An article from The Energy Research Institute states that ‘Due to enormous quantity of ash content in India coal, approximately 1 Acre per MW of installed thermal capacity is required for ash disposal’. Thus 35000 Acres of fertile land will be required only for Ash disposal. Thousands of acres of agriculture land will be rendered useless as the soil will become highly alkaline. The ash slurry may flow in to water bodies and rivers making the water alkaline and unfit for drinking. For all these new power plants sufficient coal is not available in Vidarbha, therefore most of the coal is to be transported from Captive Coal Mines allotted in the State of Orissa and Chattisgarh or imported from other countries like Indonesia, Australia or Africa. The Indian mines are located over 1000 Kms. from Nagpur and the coal is to be transported by Railway / road. Daily transportation of coal in huge quantities on already congested Railway lines/ roads will severely affect the local economy as it is largely dependent on same infrastructure for movement of agriculture/essential commodities. The transportation of coal will consume huge quantities of diesel thereby causing further pollution and global warming.

Generating power from coal is one of the major reasons for climate change. Gases containing Sulphur di oxide are a major source of ACID RAIN, the occurrence of which in Nagpur and other cities is already reported by Meteorological Department. Carbon Dioxide is one of the major pollutants that is emitted from a coal fired thermal power plant ‘CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated for most power plants in India is in the range of 0.8 to 1.2 kg per unit of electricity produced’. In other words each MW generates 8760 tones of CO2 per year. This means that new power plants will generate 30.66 million tones of CO2 per year. This will not only impact the climate but also impact the health of the residents. The flue gases emitting from chimneys are at a temperature of 150 degrees centigrade, millions of cubic meters of gases at such high temperature will raise the ambient temperature of the region affecting micro meteorology. This will be disastrous to the ecology to Vidarbha if the weather is affected and Monsoons skips the region due to atmospheric temperature disturbances.

Sources informed that according to International Chemical Safety Council of the United Nations an organic form of mercury- methyl mercury is one of the six most serious pollution threats to the planet. A 100 MW coal based thermal power plants can emits over 10 kgs of mercury in a single year.

This study shows that how coal based plants are dangerous for the region which can emits hundreds kgs of mercury from the power plants coming up in the region. As per study, the addition of even 0.9 grams of mercury that is one miniscule fraction ie 1/70th of tea-spoon is enough to contaminate a 25 acre lake and rendering fish contaminated and unsafe to eat. At higher level mercury can damage vital organs such as lungs and kidneys. Common exposures are through food and diet, additional exposure may occur through air and water.

The fly ash of certain Indian coal is radioactive which is a serious health hazard. Study reported by Scientific American in 2007 suggested that waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant- a by product from burning coal for electricity- carries in to the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy. The coal contains uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements. When coal is burned into fly ash, uranium and thorium are concentrated at upto 10 times their original levels. The study reveals that radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities.

Coal based Thermal Power Plants are not new to the region till date thousands of tons of Heavy metals, Mercury and radioactive elements have got deposited on the soil of Vidarbha. According to a study conducted by Ministry of Statistics and PI, Govt of India about the external impacts pertaining to air, water, noise, land, biological & socio-economic components, the total external cost of coal based power plant is Rs 0.1067 per Kwh ie Rs 9,34,692 per MW per year, now one can estimate how much we have lost till date and if 35000 MW of new power is generated the figure may surpass the backlog of vidarbha.


-Box -

R B Goenka, Chairman Energy Cell, Vidarbha Industries Association while talking to The Hitavada raised the doubts about Koradi Thermal Power Station expansion of 660x3 ie 1980 MW. He took objections in the Environmental Public hearing held at Nagpur and also before Expert Appraisal Committee, Thermal Project, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. He informed that the Central Pollution Control Board document Parivesh-polluting industries has listed Koradi Thermal Power Plant as one of the most polluting industries in India, but Maharashtra Pollution control Board has not taken any cognizance of the same. The plant is located within 3 kms from Nagpur city limits and further expansion will adversely affect the environment of Nagpur. However while preparing the EIA report Nagpur is shown as 11kms away just to misguide the Environment Ministry. He said, no new power plant of such a large capacity is proposed in the vicinity any metro city, therefore the plant should be either set at the Mine Head or relocated to power deficit region where abundant water is also available. However, Government of India Ministry of Environment & Forests wide order no J -13012/87/2007-IA.II (T) dated 4th January 2010 granted Environmental Clearance to Koradi Thermal Power Plant expansion without verifying the facts.

He demanded to conduct fresh public hearing for environmental clearance for the proposed 3 x 660 MW coal based power plant where project affected citizen of Nagpur can decide their future.

Goenka while putting his point said that the present power requirement of Vidarbha region is only 1500 mw and balance 2775 mw is transmitted to western maharashtra where demand for power is very high. The transmission line loses are over 100 MW resulting in loss of about Rs 300 crore per year. He said, there is no need to generate additional power in Koradi and transmitting the same to far off places in Western Maharashtra. About 5 per cent of this power will be unnecessarily lost which amounts to Rs 265 crore per year. A huge investment of Rs 1,000 crore will be required for new transmission lines of 400 kv lines from Nagpur to Mumbai- Pune region about 800 kms away. These lines are to be laid on fields of thousands of poor farmers causing severe environmental damage and destroying fertile land. If this is the situation created by only by just 1980 MW koradi power plant expansion, what will happen if all 49 new coal, based thermal power plants are established in Vidarbha.

The authorities have failed to study the cumulative effect of these power plants to be confined to Vidarbha alone. The day is not very far when Vidarbha’s environmental pollution carrying capacity will be exhausted and no new industries will be permitted in the region, thereby once again depriving Vidarbha of Industrial progress. Recent developments in Chandrapur district where no new industries will be allowed as the pollution levels have increased beyond limits largely because of Coal based plants, are an indicator of fate of whole of Vidarbha and Nagpur in particular.



Vidarbha Environmental Action Group (VEAG) a movement of people of Vidarbha is holding a meeting tomorrow to discuss the environmental issues of proposed 49 new coals fired thermal power plants.

Concerned citizens who include industrialists, doctors, lawyers, traders, farmers etc have come together to form the VEAG.

It is common knowledge that Chandrapur, home of the Chandrapur Thermal Power Plant, is the 4th most polluted city in India. Just last year the people of Nagpur had to suffer because of the failure of the pollution control equipment at the Koradi Thermal Power Plant.

The Government’s intention to permit as many as 49 new coal fired thermal power plants is a matter of great distress considering the quantity of pollution that people of Vidarbha will have to live with. This decision is all the more distressing when we face the threat of Climate Change.

Though these plants will collectively generate 35000 MW of power it will not be used for Vidarbha. This power will be transmitted to Western Maharashtra and other power deficit areas. Vidarbha is already power a surplus area and over 2500 MW of power is currently being transmitted to other parts of Maharashtra. In spite of being power surplus the Vidarbha is facing prolonged power cuts resulting in the economic crises responsible for farmer suicides.

The new plants will rely on imported coal or poor quality coal to be transported from Orissa as there is no sufficient coal in Vidarbha.

The new thermal power plants will require 16000 lakhs tons of raw water per day and burn over 7,25,000 Tons per day of Coal and generate over 2,90,000 Tons per day of Ash. Also 35000 Acres of fertile land will be required only for Ash disposal. The transmission line corridor will require additional 70,000 acres of lands. As there is no demand in Vidarbha huge transmission loses will take place resulting in increasing cost of power to consumer.

Therefore this decision begs the question “why set up coal based thermal power plants when the region is already power surplus and far away from coal mines and consumer?”

In fact there are multiple reasons for this decision

1. The farmers of Vidarbha are already in an economical crisis thus they could be induced to sell their land at throw away prices.

2. There is a general conception that the people of Vidarbha do not protest any injustices done to them so such polluting industries can easily come up.

3. The people of Vidarbha are unaware of hazardous nature of fly ash and gases which will be generated by these power plants.

4. Water from major rivers like Vainganga, Kanhan, Wardha, Pench, Painganga that is used for agriculture and for drinking in urban areas can be easily diverted to these coal fired thermal power plants.

5. Vidarbha being centrally located power can be transmitted to any part of the country by very high voltage transmission lines.

In order to save the environment of Vidarbha it is necessary to educate general public from the ill effects of mega power projects being set up in Vidarbha. Shri R. B. Goenka, Convenor , Vidarbha Environmental Action Group (VEAG) has arranged meeting for all those who are concerned about future of Vidarbha. Experts in the field of energy and environment will give presentation and discuss the issue in detail.

All are invited to attend. Interested person who would like to express their views can mail their request letter to Or call 09422114979 / 9765494321.

The meeting will be held at 4:30 PM at 1 st floor, VIA Hall, Udyog Bhavan, Civil Lines, Nagpur , on Sunday 21st feb. 2010.

For Vidarbha Environmental Action Group (VEAG)

R. B. Goenka,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Five Vidarbha farmers suicides in last 48 hours : Maharashtra Govt. made mockery of Prime Minister Relief Package

Five Vidarbha farmers suicides in last 48 hours :

Maharashtra Govt. made mockery of Prime Minister Relief Package as Rs.3000 crore spent on irrigation but failed increase single acre under irrigation.

Nagpur-19th feb.2010

The news of 16 vidarbha farmers suicides in last week is till being reported in Indian and abroad ,five more farmers have killed themselves in last two days as per reports reaching in Nagpur ,the recernt victims of on going vidarbha agrarian crisis are

1.Dhanuji Sapkal of Dhamangoan(Band) in Buldhana.

2.Pramod Ghagi of Pawanain in Chandrapur

3.Jayantrao Phate of Sawalpur in Amravati

4.Mohan Chavan of Dehni in Yavatmal

5.Gajanan Kopulwar of Mandavi in Yavatmal

Earlier last week in 8 days 16 farmers committed suicides due to crop failure as more than 14000 villages have officially declared drought hit by Maharashtra Govt. but no relief aid has been till decleared,

It was expected that administration will take stock of situation and attend crisis to provide urgent relief but nothing has happened resulting the restart of farm suicide spiral that reflects on going administration apathy to the national agrarian crisis serious inssue,informed Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti in press note

The innocent victims of vidarbha agrarian crisis who committed suicide from 8th feb., to 15th feb. are

1.SunilDeshmukh in Ner –Yavatmal

2.Sachin Lokhande in Kelwat –Amaravati

3.Balkrishana Wakhode in Danapir-Akola

4.Mankarabai Dutonde in Antari –Akola

5-Gulabrao Thorat in kelwat –Buldhana

6.Ekanath Ladke of Panoli in Chandrapur

7.Sudharkar Sabale of Ashgoan in Amaravati

8.Tukaram Bawane of Mansawali in Distt-Amaravati

9.Bhanudas Kangane of Palaskhed in Buldhana

10.Ravi Lengure of Sonbardi in Yavtamal

11.Chandu rathode of mohdari in Yavatmal

12.Gajanan manchelwar of pandharkawada in Yavatmal

13.Gajanan wankhede of Asara in Yavatmal

14.Vinod kale from Nindipeth in Akola

15. Manoj more of unkhed in Akola

16.Raju bobde of sawli wagh in Wardha

Maharashtra Govt. made mockery of Prime Minister Relief Package as Rs.3000 crore spent on irrigation but failed increase single acre under irrigation

After visit of Indian prime minister Dr.manmohan singh to vidarbha on 1st july 2006 and decleared speacil relief package of Rs.3750 crore and more than Rs.3000 crore being claimed to have spent in various irrigation schemes and projects in last four years but net result of crating the irrigation facilities in this west vidarbha is almost zero as urea under irrigation has not increased by single acre where rubi crop cultivation area has been drop down by more than 50% in comparison to year 2006 that from 1.8.lacs hector to 72 thousands hector which lowest in this decade more over as per administration reports these villages has facing the problem of water ,fodder ,food and employment but till date any single district administration has not started any relief work resulting migration of thousands farmers for the want of work .ground condition is worst than June-2006 and now it’s time for Indian intervention to solve vidarbha agrarian crisis as all relief package failed to give any result ,Tiwari urged.

VJAS urged Indian Prime Minister intervention in vidarbha agrarian crisis to address the Dying Farmers to attend issues of Free Health Care, Food Security, Rural Employment , Fodder To Save Dying Cattle ,Drinking Water to Rural Masses and Cattle on priority basis so that prevailing acute distress can be minimize and farmers suicides can be controlled ,Tiwari said.


Please arrange to publish this press note

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,