Thursday, 6 July 2017

Borewell Stories - Kumarappa

Aparna Krishnan
(The sorry story of my village. It was that clearly expected and predicted. We walked into it knowingly. Exported away all the water, from 50 feet to 1000 feet,to the sugar and mango eaters in cities. Now we sit a look at the cloudless skies.)
 A Peep Behind The Iron Curtain – J c Kumarappa
Erection of a dam means millions of acres will be brought under cultivation and crores of rupees will be spent and as a result thereof electricity will be generated. What is the main purpose? The purpose is to sell electricity. Industrialists are interested only in building up the dam. The electricity talk is the salesman's talk and the irrigation of millions of acres is also a salesman's talk. If it is wanted is to irrigate large areas, what is required is to spend small amounts say Rs. 500/- at each place where erosion is going on or wells are wanted. The villagers will take care of the rest. The expenses will not be-so great then. The Government can give the villagers materials. This will be a very good method of tackling the problem with the co-operation of the people. It will develop people into looking after the Governmental functions also. There is danger in all such projects. Electricity is not an unqualified blessing.

In South Arcot district electricity generated from the Mettur project was made available. They wanted electric pumps to be used for pumping out water from wells and tanks. The place was getting absolutely barren. The villagers were cutting down cashew nut trees. They were quite good trees and not diseased ones. On enquiry the people said that they had nothing to eat and they were cutting the trees and making them into charcoal and selling them and getting a livelihood that way. They said that since the giant electric poles had come they could not cultivate their lands. They said electricity was used for pumping out water. "They sold electric pumps and all those who had money bought them. 

We have no money to buy them. The people who are already rich purchased them. They pump the water out; the result is that all the wells that are 30 feet or so deep become dry and the poor people are without water. We used to take out water with the use of bullocks. Even our tanks have gone dry." The plots which looked like land were originally tanks. Formerly when there was no electric pump, the rich were also cultivating Towar etc. Now they have converted the land into garden crops. They are growing all kinds of fruits.What happens to these fruits? They go to Bombay, Bangalore, Madras and Calcutta. So the water is being transferred to Bombay, Bangalore, Madras and Calcutta because of the electric pump and the poor people's food has been cut out. To save themselves from starving they are cutting own trees and making charcoal and trying to keep body and soul together for a while. Now we see where the Mithaiwala economics leads us to! People were cheated and it has resulted ultimately in ruining the poor people. We see how this seemingly good scheme ruins the people. Therefore, such scheme must be passed by the local people and they must understand and analyse the consequences of these things and find out where they will lead them to and take care that they do not harm them in any way. We must not be carried away by saying that in America they are doing this and that, in New Zealand they are doing that, etc., Our methods have to be fitted to the conditions prevailing in our own land.

Gandhian Economic Thought – J.C.Kumarappa

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