Farmers of Kasarbadi village, located 20 kms from Petlawad teshil in MP’s Jhabua district, are seething with discontent. Despite owning fertile lands, they are unable to produce crops round the year as they have no means of irrigation.
The villagers have been demanding the extension of Mahi river canal by another 2.5 kms to link it with the naturally flowing nullah that passes by their village, but elected representatives have ignored the solution for 15 years.
“We feel like torching cars in which politicians come (to seek votes),” said Shobharam, a farmer who owns seven bighas of land in the village.
Another villager, Prem Singh Dodiyar, said, “Eight to 10 villages will benefit if Mahi canal water comes to nullah. We all will be happy then.”
Farmers here are heavily dependent on monsoon rains for irrigating their crops, as tubewells dry up in summers. So they manage to grow Kharif crops, but irrigation remains a big challenge in other seasons.
When asked whether the villagers had raised the matter before administrative officials and the local MLA, Shobharam said, “All bamboos (politicians and officials) are hollow.”
Dilip Singh, a 20-year old farmer of Kasarbadi, has another demand. He wants government to promote network of small, agriculture-based businesses and industries.
“Tomatoes produced in the region go up to south India. Cotton also goes to far-off places. Flowers and vegetables are produced in good quantity,” he pointed out.
“We need better marketing facility which will save our transportation cost. The region has cheap labour, abundant land, water and electricity but no industries,” said Ajit Singh of Dabari village.
Though chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is promising industrialisation, voters say he is not projecting a clear roadmap on how it can be achieved in a definite time-limit.
“Farmers have spent up to Rs 10,000 on completing paper work to benefit from different welfare schemes. But not even 2% of them got it. What kind of plan is this?” Unnai village farmer Antun Bhabhor said.
“Development will come by promoting trade and industries while providing roads, water supply, healthcare and electricity in villages,” said Chhatkala village deputy sarpanch Sunil Waghela.
With just a couple of days left for the polling for the Ratlam-Jhabua parliamentary by-election, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have intensified their campaigns in the ST-reserved constituency while levelling charges of corruption and inefficiency against each other.
The by-election was necessitated by the death of incumbent BJP MP Dileep Singh Bhuria. While the BJP has fielded his daughter and sitting MLA from Petlawad Nirmala Bhuria, Kantilal Bhuria is the Congress’s nominee from the constituency.