Kushilal Mahato, Kusumdih, Jharkhand. “Since this factory has come up our agriculture has always been under loss, we’ve never seen profits. Its been here for over 12 years. Come and have look at my brinjal crop, I don’t get a harvest. The crops get affected by the pollution from the factory. There is a layer of dust that gets accumulated on the leaves and the plants slowly die. Our lives have become miserable, neither jobs at the factory nor any money from farming. Earlier, when the factory started the Kay 2 TMT factory would give notebooks and pencils to the kids and after about 8 months they stopped.” Is there any water in the village? “Our wells have all died and we can’t afford to drill borewells. We can’t match the factory, we villagers have not got any benefit from the factory. The crops get affected by the pollution from the factory. There is a layer of dust that gets accumulated and the plants slowly die. When I speak to the factory folks about it they show a well-manicured farm and tell me ‘See how well our farm is doing’. They use pressure pipes to spray water and wash away the dust and I don’t have the money or the water or the machinery to do that every day. The factory pulls all the water, from the borewells, open wells and even from the canal nearby. They have a lot of money and we can’t compete with them, our crops will die for sure. “I owe Rs 3000 to my kids’ teacher which I’ve not been able to pay for a few months now. I hoped to get a good harvest from brinjal and I could pay the fees but now it seems unlikely that I’ll get anything. So I go to the factory again to ask for a job and they refuse to give a job to the locals and even if they do they make sure the workload is so high that the worker will leave in 3 months. We are highly exploited. If we tell the panchayat, our panchayat head goes and talks to them and everything is forgotten in a month, a decision never is taken.” Kushilal is a sharecropper, does not own the land he works on, he cultivates on another person’s land and shares half of the harvest. All the input cost and the labour is taken care of by Kushilal, if it’s a good crop he has to share half of it and if it’s a loss Kushilal has to bear the entire loss.
Livestock is the Farming Alternative