HYDERABAD: Activist Medha Patkar has said that high-level corruption in the use of natural resources needs immediate attention. In Hyderabad as part of her three-day visit to the state, Patkar on Monday said that establishing and empowering gram sabhas is crucial to the decentralization of power in the country. That would enable people to have control over development activities and natural resources in their areas, she averred.
Speaking at a conference organised by the National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM), Patkar, one of the founders of the group, said that the organisation would take up mass movements to pressurise the government into forming gram sabhas. During her visit, Patkar will interact with farmers on this and related issues.
Referring to the Polavaram project, she said, “People of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been cheated by the government”.
“The project got commissioned by politicians who are hand in glove with industrialists. Farmers have nothing in it for them and the project should be shelved. The government has already spent close to Rs 4,000 crore on five lift irrigation projects in the state and that, if utilised efficiently, should serve the purpose,” she said.
She also demanded that more pro-farmer policies be introduced in the next budget. “The agriculture ministry only takes the suggestions of commercial and corporate bodies but does not pay any heed to the common farmer’s interests while preparing the budget. We want separate funds allocated for programmes like organic farming and water harvesting.”
Stressing on the need to curtail corruption, she said that Lokayuktas will be of substantial help in the endeavour but did concede that most politicians were against this office.Uma Shankari, convenor, AP Chapter, NAPM criticized the government for not coming to the rescue of farmers and also failing to provide them timely compensation.