Plight of farmers of Gandak Basin, Bihar

By J R Sharan

In the 1940s from Muzaffarpur to Narkatiyaganj 160 kms stretch was developed and along with railway track 10 sugar factories were developed but at present only three mills are in working condition where crushing takes palce for a maximum period of 120 to 150 days.

The peoples Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the self claimed Pradhan Sewak of the nation have no time to look into the issue even as reopening of these mills can certainly uplift the economic status of farmer community in this area.

The only cash crop in this belt has been Sugarcane but neither state government nor the Centre is willing to come to the rescue of these farmers. The economic development of the Gandak River basin has come to halt and farmers are forced to migrate. The plight of farmers in this belt is not different from other parts of the country. They are facing even more worse conditions as there is no other source of earnings.

Interestingly, about 15 years back lots of private companies had shown their interests in reopening sugar mills in the area but they returned empty handed as non chief minister Nitish Kumar led NDA (JDU and BJP) government did not extend any cooperation to them. After waiting for months and years they closed their offices in Bihar and returned to respective states of origin.

The current Union Agriculture minister, Radha Mohan Singh is from this belt, Motihari. Even he has turned a blind eye to this problem. Ironically in his own parliamentary constituency, Motihari, three sugar mills are closed. Though the BJP is in power both in state and the Centre, sugarcane farmers have lost hope. There is no other industry in the entire stretch.

Mahatma Gandhi learnt his initial political lesson in West Champaran which is part of the same belt. Narkatiyaganj comes under West Champaran district. In 1919, West Chamapran was the epicentre of Gandhi’s agitation well known as Champaran Satyagrah. Even after a century, the situation did not change for the farmers and they are desperately looking to some one like Gandhi to stand up for their cause.

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