| Jan Sangarsh Morcha Press Release
|| 20 November 2002
Grand Welcome for Bijli Bachao- Azadi Bachao Yatra in Kasrawad Over 5000 Farmers-Labourers Protest Against Proposed Tariff Hike in Electricity
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
SHRAMIK ADIVASI SANGATHAN
Near Bohra Masjid, Betul, MP
The Bijli Bachao Azadi Bachao Yatra organised by Nimad Malwa Kisan Majdoor Sangathan and Jan Sangharsh Morcha to protest against the proposed electricity tariff hikes in Madhya Pradesh received a grand welcome here today in the town of Kasrawad (Dist. Khargone). The yatra went around various parts of the town in a huge rally which was then converted into a public meeting. Over 5000 farmers, labourers, tribals and others participated in this meeting, unanimously protesting against the proposed electricity tariff hike. The meeting called for a intense struggle to liberate the farmers-labourers from the clutches of slavery of foreign powers.
It may be recollected that the MP State Electricity Board (MPSEB) has recently filed a proposal with the MP Electricity Regulatory Commission proposing (MPERC) a 1.5 to 6 times hike in the power tariffs. If this proposal is accepted it is certain that the farmers and the commerce of the state will come to a grinding halt and the people will be reduced to destitution.
Nimad Malwa Kisan Majdoor Sangathan and Jan Sangharsh Morcha have launched the Bijli Bachao Azadi Bachao yatra from 15 Nov. 2002 to protest against this price hike. The yatra which started from Indore, reached Kasrawad today via Dewas, Ujjain, Nagda, Ratlam, Dhar, Manawar, Badwani and Anjad.
About 5000 people gathered in Kasrawad today to welcome the yatra and join it in the protest. Addressing the public meeting, Shri Ramesh Chandra Dongre said that if this tariff hike is accepted, the farmers and labourers would be rendered destitute. Former MLA Shri Gajanan Patidar said that the farmers are not able to bear the burden of even the existing tariffs; if the tariffs are hikes then farming itself will perish.
Shri Jagdishbhai, of village Karondia, who is travelling with the yatra, said that not only farmers, but small businesses, small and medium industries and domestic consumers all will be badly affected. Shri Dayaram Patidar called on the people to be ready to take to the streets.
Shri Ambaram Mukati, member of the Advisory Committee of the MPERC, said that the ever rising prices of electricity have broken the backs of the farmers. Shri Sunilbhai, senior activist fo the Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, warned the farmers to be aware of the conspiracy to destroy our country at the behest of agencies like the WTO, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and multinational corporations. The costs of all the inputs into farming are going up while the prices of the agriculture produce are falling due to open imports. This has started the destruction of the farmers. Farmers are committing suicides in states like A.P., Karnataka and Punjab. Unfortunately, the state and the central governments both are cooperating in this international conspiracy, he added. Hence, it is necessary that the farmers and labourers come together and fight this.
Shri Alok Agrawaal, convenor of the Nimad Malwa Kisan Majdoor Sangathan and Jan Sangharsh Morcha explained how the current proposals for tariff hike are against the basic interests of the common people and farmers, and showed how these proposals had been initiated under direction from Asian Development Bank. He said that is the MPSEB had followed the orders of the MPERC issued last year, it would have garnered sufficient revenue and there would have been no need for this fresh petition for tariff hike. This petition of MPSEB is not even legally tenable, he added. He called on the people to be ready to take to the streets to fight for their rights and to free the country from the designs of foreign powers, and appealed to all to come to Bhopal in huge numbers on 30 Nov. 2002, where a massive demonstration is to be organised as a culmination of the yatra.
The meeting unanimously called for the rejection of the current petition filed by MPSEB, and said that even the tariff hike of last year was unbearable and that too should be rolled back. The meeting was compered by Shri Prahlad Singh.
The yatra now moves on to the districts of Badwah, Sanawad, Khargone, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Harda, Betul, Hoshangad and then to Bhopal. Another yatra which is going on through the districts of Katni, Shadol, Dindori, Mandla, Balaghat, Seoni, Chindwada and Jabalpur will meet this yatra in Bhopal on 30th Nov. 2002, when a massive demonstration will be staged in culmination of both yatras.Alok Agrawaal