ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Story of a Peasant Struggle in Jiwandesar, Rajasthan

Origin, Evolution and the Current Status

Farmers of Jiwandesar, a village in Rajasthan have waged a struggle for the past two and half decades for getting irrigation water from Gang canal. However, due to the larger political economy of the region where large and influential farmers resist any cutback in their water allowances from the Gang canal and the inert attitude of successive state governments which do not want to antagonise the large farmers’ lobby, the struggle of has not led to a fruition.

This article is based on a field survey conducted in Jiwandesar in the district of Sri Ganganagar for the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) funded study on “Transformations in Agrarian Relations during the Agrarian Crisis in India and Well-being of Small-Marginal Farmers.”

The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the ICSSR. The author is also thankful to the villagers of Jiwandesar who provided a large number of documents related to the history of the movement. The author gratefully acknowledges the feedback provided by the anonymous referee on the article.

 

This article presents a story of an ongoing struggle of farmers of Jiwandesar in Sri Ganganagar district in Rajasthan for getting irrigation water from one of the minor canals of Gang canal system, which passes through the middle of the village lands. Jiwandesar is a medium-sized village located in Padampur tehsil, and at a distance of about 45 kilometres (km) from the district headquarter. The Gang canal feeder has been passing through Jiwandesar since 1927 but village lands are not included in the command area of the canal.1 Not much is known about the struggle of village farmers till the middle years of the 1990s. Villagers, however, have the copy of an official document that tells us that the state government conducted a survey in 1963 to explore the possibility of including village lands in the command area of Gang canal for which the villagers paid Rs 550 as a fee for the survey. The survey report concluded that village lands can be provided irrigation water from the canal. However, no action was taken by the government to comply with the recommendation of the report.

It was in the 1990s that the farmers of Jiwandesar intensified their struggle for getting irrigation water from Gang canal. Farmers of Chak Chitha, an adjacent village, which was also not included in the command area of Gang canal, joined this struggle for demanding water for their fields as well. In June 1996, the then irrigation minister in the state government, Devi Singh Bhati, on the request of struggling farmers constituted a fresh survey committee for exploring the possibility of extending canal water to the barren fields of the two villages. He also assured the farmers that the two villages will be included in the command area of the canal if the survey report recommends it. The second survey report, just like the first one conducted in 1963, recommended that the barren lands of these villages are at a lower level than the canal, and so can be irrigated from the canal. However, Bhati was relieved of his ministerial duties before the report could be submitted to the state government. In January 1997, the deputy irrigation minister in the state government too supported the demands of the struggling farmers, and assured them that the state government will take steps to ensure water allowance from the canal to the two villages. However, no progress was made for reasons unknown to villagers.

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Published On : 12th Jan, 2024

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