Lokayat visited Chattisgarh: A report

Chattisgarh Trip Report (26-Sept-08 to 29-Sept-08)

Purpose of the visit:

1. To attend a national conference in Raipur celebrating Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, Com Shankar Guha Niyogi’s martyr anniversary and chalk out a plan for future course of action in Chattisgarh.
2. To learn about the struggle in Raipur and surrounding areas in detail.

Highlights of the Trip:

On the first day, we stayed in a basti called Majdoor Nagar in the outskirts of Raipur. A major part of this was established 12 years back. The segment of basti where we stayed was set up 6 months back and did not have electricity connection. The land for this establishment was snatched from Government / some Company. The residents live in remarkable harmony.

The conference (Saturday, 27-Sept-08) was in the heart of Raipur and activist groups / parties from all over India were invited. On Sunday, 28-Sept-08, the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha organized a rally to oppose the fascism being instigated upon people by the State Government to make way for industries. Slogans remembering Bhagat Singh, Com Niyaogi & combating liquor were also raised. The rally witnessed close to 1,500 laborers and farmers.

Before leaving, we stayed in Bhillai on Sunday night, where we had interesting discussions with CMM activists, Ajay T G and Jagmohan Singh.

Some Interesting Facts that we Learned:

* Raipur: 10,000 labor produce business worth Rs. 1 Arab in a single day

* Iron-Ore: Sold at Rs. 10,000 per kg by the mining company to other countries. CG government gets Rs. 17 per kg as royalty

* WTO plans to sell off all the water in the world by 2011

* Stock Market down by 500 points means Rs. 100 Kharab out of India

* Indravati River sold to Essar Steel

* Shivnath River sold to Radius Waters for maintaining a dam made by government. Highlights:
1. 36 km stretch of river on both sides of company campus sold
2. Company gets Rs. 15 lakh from Industrial Development Corporation and 15 lakh from the Rural Development Corporation for maintaining the dam
3. Company can sell the water and if it does not sell an amount fixed in the contract, CG government will compensate for the losses incurred.
4. If the government wishes to cancel this contract, it will have to pay Rs. 400 crore as fine.

* Hierarchy of Contractors (Up to 4 contractors)

Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha Sum Up:

* Strength of around 10,000 workers, most of them in the age group 20-30

* Good strength of whole timers

* Have 4 kinds of Unions, one for each type of Industry:
o Iron-Ore
o Steel
o Cement
o Sleepers for Railway tracks

* Study circles for workers

* Have a small library also

* Has 11 committees dedicated for different kinds of work

* Has a Cultural front, whose major contribution has been of making a 3 hour play on their local hero Veer Narayan Singh, who fought bravely against the British and was slaughtered to death in public

* A very nice environment for kids learn from elders and get inspired

Report by Rushal Thaker

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