West UP farmers protest installation of meters on tube wells
Hundreds of farmers from different districts of the region gathered at the headquarters of Paschim Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd (PVVNL) under the aegis of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Monday to oppose the installation of electric meters on tube wells.
Many farmers also brought uprooted electric meters from their tube wells and dumped them on the premises of PVVNL and asked the officials to deposit them in the office.
BKU’s national president Naresh Tikait and national president of youth wing Gaurav Tikait joined the protesting farmers in the afternoon. Naresh Tikait said that the state government had announced free electricity for irrigation but now was installing meters, which was unfair.
Naresh Tikait said that farmers will not allow the installation of meters.
Later, a delegation of farmers led by Naresh Tikait met PVVNL’s managing director Arvind Malappa Bangari and other officials and apprised them of the problems of the farmers.
BKU’s district Hapur president Dinesh Khera said that officials were told about the erratic power supply in the villages and how the installation of meters would mean a manifold increase in electricity bills. Khera said that officials were told that farmers will not allow the installation of the meters on their tube-wells.
He said that officials assured them that the issue would be taken up with the state government, which has the power to amend the order. The officials, however, agreed to hold a meeting with the farmers on the first Monday of every month to resolve their issues pertaining to the electricity department.
Farmer Naresh Raghav of village Ginaura Nangli in Bulandshahr blamed the government for cheating farmers. “They promised free electricity to the farmers in their ‘Sankalp Patra’, and now they are installing meters. We can’t afford a manifold increase in bills of tube-wells,” Raghav said.
Another farmer, Omveer of village Jangethi in Meerut, accused the government of working against the farmers. “We have not received sugarcane payment of the previous year, but they disconnect our electricity in non-payment of the bills. We can’t afford to pay bills through the meter for irrigation,” he said.
Vinay Nehra of Gadana village in Ghaziabad said that we don’t want anything for free, and like Haryana, either the government can charge a minimum amount for irrigation or make it free like in Punjab and Telangana.
Meanwhile, activists of another organisation Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (KMS), led by Thakur Puran Singh had also staged a protest at PVVNL on June 25 over the same issue. They have now announced to convene a panchayat on PVVNL office premises on June 30 if their demand to defer the installation of meters was not fulfilled.
“We have given officials time till June 29 to fulfil the demand. If they fail, a panchayat would be held on June 30 to intensify the protest,” said Thakur Ajab Singh, president of the Saharanpur unit.
KMS’ Meerut president Devraj Singh said that organisations associated with farmers, including BKU and KMS, have a similar objective and are fighting for common issues of the farmers. “Government should not misunderstand that the farmers are divided. They might belong to different organisations but are united on issues that affect the farmers”, said Singh and warned that their stir would be intensified.
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