This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by 101reporters. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A 43 Year Long Wait: The Case Of Chhattisgarh’s Rice Farmers

More from 101reporters

By Hemant Gairola & Hitesh Sharma for Youth Ki Awaaz:

If justice delayed is justice denied, does compensation delayed amount to compensation denied? Having waited a good 43 years for compensation for their land, farmers of a village in Chhattisgarh say the amount they finally received, is too little, too late. After all, a paisa today is a rupee tomorrow!

Oh, by the way, on top of that, not everyone who parted with their land has received the compensation, yet.

43 Years Ago

Jivnandan Diliwar-min
Jivnandan Diliwar

In the wake of the severe drought in 1972, the government had decided to build water reservoirs in affected areas. One such reservoir was built in Litia village in Durg district of Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh). Land was identified for the purpose, a reservoir and a canal were built and the farmers were told to wait for the compensation to be paid.

And so they waited.

Over the years, young tillers turned old, old ones became frail and the wait continued. The old got older, the frail ones passed away, and regimes changed at the central and state levels. Chhattisgarh got carved out of MP but the wait continued.

Jivnandan Diliwar, who was still a child when his family’s land was acquired by the government, said at times they would speak with officials in the irrigation department and often submit memorandums to the Collector and the sub-divisional magistrate, seeking their long-overdue compensation. But their pleas drew only empty promises.

Relief, If You Can Call It That

After 40 years of running a fool’s errand and living in a fool’s paradise, a new generation of farmers of Litia got in touch with ‘Chhattisgarh Pragatisheel Kisan Sangathan’ or CPKS (Progressive Farmers’ Organisation) and sought help.

Durg-based social activist Rajkumar Gupta, who’s associated with the farmers group, told Youth Ki Awaaz, that over the past four decades, the farmers tried all they could – be it talking to the local MLA or to the district administration, the various departments concerned or the state government’s public grievance fora – they voiced their plaint at each and every level, but their voice remained unheard.

When his organisation, CPKS, learnt about the plight of the people awaiting compensation in 2013, he drew the Collector’s attention to it. The Collector’s office took note and set about resolving it. The formalities took about two years and at the fag-end of 2015, many landowners received compensation from the government.

“Aaj hoga, kal hoga kar ke. Waise hi aaj tak ghiste-ghiste abhi tak lag gaya hai,” (“It will happen today, it will happen tomorrow. The issue kept dragging on and it took this long for a resolution to come about”) said Diliwar, making his frustration known.

Raw, Unfair, Untimely Deal

But the ending was not to the liking of the farmers. They were not too thrilled at finally getting the cheque that had once seemed near-impossible.

canal and reservoir
The canal (L) and the reservoir (R).

The farmers believe they have been shortchanged and that for all practical purposes, their rightful dues are more than what the government has paid them. All the farmers nodded in approval as Diliwar raised the question of who would make good the loss their families had to suffer for 43 years, during which they could neither make money off their asset nor had they been paid in lieu of it.

I.K. Verma, President of CPKS, said the farmers whose land was acquired for the reservoir have been paid between ₹3 lakh and ₹3.5 lakh per acre. Depending on whether their land gave a single crop or double crop a year, the farmers think they should get between ₹6 lakh to ₹10 lakh per acre.

Gupta too agreed that the farmers have been given a raw deal. He noted it was in 2013 that the paperwork for land acquisition began, including preliminary processes like de-notification. He said the amount the farmers received includes twice the market rate of their land in 2013 and interest on it, starting from 2013 to the time of payment in 2015-end. Considering the more than inordinate delay in paying the settlement, he reasoned, the amount should have been at least four times the market rate.

He added that it took two years for their settlement to materialise after the process was initiated in 2013 owing to the uncertainty over the Land Acquisition Bill, 2015.

The NDA government had proposed a few changes in the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, but the bill was widely criticised as anti-farmer. Among other condemned proposals was the one seeking to remove the clause pertaining to the consent of the land owner. The bill failed to get enough support and was allowed to lapse. Gupta said it worked well for the farmers as their compensation was calculated as per the provisions of the 2013 version of the Act. Here, he says the timing was perfect as had the paperwork for their relief begun even a year earlier, they would have been paid even less under the archaic Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

While a section of the farmers has approached the administration, seeking a revision in the pay-off, some are still waiting for just their cheques to arrive.

Gupta said that those whose land was acquired for the canal are yet to receive compensation as their paperwork is tangled in a cobweb of complications, such as change in plot number and transfer of land ownership. He was expecting these landowners would get paid in a few months.

From Land Owners To Manual Labourers

This generation of villagers grew up in deprivation owing to government apathy. As many farmers had farmland elsewhere in the village, the hasty and unplanned acquisition in 1972 didn’t choke their earnings altogether. However, there were many families whose sole piece of land was gone. They were left high and dry.

One such villager, who was barely two or three years old when his father’s land was gobbled up, rued that his was a poor family to begin with and had just one plot of land. With that also gone, his family of farmers had to become manual labourers. Had they received the settlement in time, they would not have sunk further into poverty, he said. He lamented that with the compensation he’d now get, he couldn’t even consider buying land and undo the damage the government had done to his family, more than four decades ago. He’s among those who are still awaiting payment.

chhattisgarh farmer
Bhikarimal, a former farmer.

Bhikharimal’s story is no different: the only plot gone, with payment yet to be received. The ever-present smile on his wrinkled face belies the disappointment he has lived with for 43 years. He was in his early 20s when his only piece of land was sucked up for the project. With his only source of income snatched from him, there was no option other than manual labour.

“Hamaari zameen naale me nikli hai. Aaj bhi paisa nahi mila. Kai baar aate hain, jaate hain. Aa jayega bolte hain, par aata nahi hai. Kya karna hai soch ke mar gaye hain. Marne waale hain hum! Meri 75 saal umar ho gayi hai. Main kisko bolun ab, bhai?” (“My land was taken for the canal. I haven’t yet received money. I have been through the runaround many times. I’m told I’ll get the money, but it doesn’t happen. The dilemma of what to do now is killing me. I’m almost on my deathbed. I’m 75-years-old. To whom do I plead with at this age?”), the septuagenarian vented out.

And while there are those who stayed put in the village, many who lost their only piece of land to the project migrated to nearby towns and cities in search for work.

For Rice Bowl Farmers, A Begging Bowl Instead:

IK Verma also, claimed Litia’s is not an isolated case. He alleged that the administration’s approach of ‘acquire land, forget landowner’ persists. He said, even today government projects gobble up farmers’ land for projects such as stop-dams, canals and road-widening.

Gupta rattled off a list of villages in Chhattisgarh where people have been affected. He asserted that the Centre’s scheme of laying roads in villages is the biggest culprit, never compensating landowners for tearing through their land. He said these are marginal farmers are poor and unorganised because of which their hardships go unnoticed. He drew a contrast with cash-crop farmers of north India, whose violent agitations, backed by political parties, draw traction in the media.

Underlining that Chhattisgarh is known as the ‘rice bowl of India‘ (‘dhaan ka katora’, as it’s called here), Verma quipped that the administration is handing a begging bowl to the rice cultivators.

Image Courtesy:

Hemant Gairola is a Dehradun-based independent journalist and a senior member of He has worked with national dailies for five years. He quit the newsroom to become a musician. When not making music with his band, he hunts for story ideas. Hitesh Sharma is a Durg-based independent reporter and a member of

You must be to comment.

More from 101reporters

Similar Posts

By Aditya Lakshmi

By Aastha Maggu

By Puja Bhattacharjee

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below