Saying a Firm 'No' To Displacement: Mahava Bharala Struggle in Rajasthan

At a time when there is growing social and legal agreement that farmers’ lands should not be acquired where the entire community is firmly opposed to it and when there are other options available to the government, it is inexplicable why the government has been so insistent about acquiring land in Mahava and Bharala villages (Neem Ka Thana Block of Sikar district). For the last four years, the overwhelming majority of the people of these villages have united to resist the notices served to them regarding takeover of their lands so that an industrial corporation can allot it to various industries.

As villagers explained during a recent visit to these villages, this has always been regarded as a two-crop area and has good prospects for agriculture and animal husbandry. Even what is described as wasteland in official records is actually very useful for supporting animal husbandry and related livelihoods, people say. Bhagvati Devi, who has been in the forefront of the anti-displacement struggle, says, “This land has provided for seven generations of villagers and we are determined that our future generations also continue to get this support.”

Villagers here fear that as a large number of stone crushers exist in nearby areas, so their lands when acquired may also be used for this purpose, making it impossible to live here because of the health destroying pollution caused by stone crushers.

Already indiscriminate mining has started in this area. In Mahava village this has begun just near a water body, which should never be done. This water body is being destroyed by this mining. Agriculture, animal husbandry and other sources of livelihoods are also being adversely affected and houses are being damaged. When people protested against this indiscriminate mining, they were lathi charged. One woman suffered a hand fracture but still was jailed along with another woman for some days.

People are afraid of the mining and crusher mafia which is all powerful in this belt of about 150 villages in Sikar, Jaipur and Jhunjhunu districts. Yet they are determined to carry forward their struggle to protect their lands and village. Their struggle should get wide support.