Peasants, rights activists protest against water shortage

UMERKOT, July 25: The Green Rural Development Organisation and Hari Mazdoor Tanzeem took out a procession on motorcycles on Monday against shortage of irrigation and drinking water at tails, non-settlement of accounts of peasants, meagre daily wages workers and non-availability of residential plots for them.

It was taken out from Jhuddo in district Mirpurkhas to the Nabisar road of district Umerkot via town Naukot.
Carrying banners and raising slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters also marched in streets.

Speaking on the occasion, organiser of the protest and director of the Green Rural Development Organization Dr Ghulam Hyder said that shortage of irrigation water at tails of Mithrao and Jamrao canals feeding taluka Kunri, Digri and tehsil Diplo had left a huge population without drinking water. People are forced to consume stagnant water which is causing water borne diseases, accumulating huge financial burden on the already indebted peasants.

He said shortage of irrigation water left over 58 per cent of agriculture land barren and rotation water supply usually damaged crops. Thus, farmers stood indebted.

He said non-settlement of accounts of peasants was a major complaint because land owners did not settle their accounts regularly and they failed to pay them their proper share and compelled them to work like servants and not share holders.

Often peasants are kept enslaved just because they owe money to land lords who do not want to pay it.

He said that mostly workers were paid meagre daily wages as in Umerkot, Kunri, Digri, Khipro, Tando Bago and Diplo sub districts, chilli and cotton pickers did not receive more than Rs100 per maund after hard work from dawn to dusk. Picking chillies sprayed with pesticide is harmful for their health and the meagre payment forced them to take loans from employers and when they fail to repay the money, employers used them as bonded labour.President of the Hari Mazdoor Tanzeem Ms
Shahida Khaskheli said that women among bonded labourers were the worst sufferers and they should be paid special attention. She said labourers working in brick kilns were also victim to low wages. Wages for laying 1,000 bricks are Rs300 whereas baked 1,000 bricks are being sold at a rate of Rs4,000 to Rs5,000.

Brick kiln 33 per cent of the earned money for backing, shifting and other miscellaneous process and owners receive 33 per cent share.

She said this meagre amount of payment left workers at the mercy of owners who later held them as bonded labours.

Talking about non-formal sector including construction workers, workers on tea stalls, drivers, loaders etc, she said they were also being paid not more than Rs200 a day, which left them depended on loans.

She said that more than 70 per cent of rural population was working in the agriculture sector and they did not have their own land to construct a house for permanent living. Often they keep migrating, resultantly education and health of their children is adversely affected. Therefore, they surrender before any person who owns land and become peasants or share holders with him to earn livelihood for their families and bore all atrocities done by the land owner.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Amb Bheel, advocate Bhuro Mal Bheel, Dileep Kumar Kalani, Manzoor Bhatti, and Dev Dutt.
http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/26/peasants-rights-activists-protest-against-water-shortage.html

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