Dalit labourers, freed from bonded labour
They were rehabilitated from bonded labour
Recalling his miserable life, that he had lived three decades ago, Chitram Bikshapati said,”We were serving the land lords as slaves and our wives used to work for long hoursin their houses, under inhuman conditions. For generations we were treated like dogs.”
This was the wretched past of those dalits labourers. Their livelihood was to work in the fields. In 1986, Government allotted them 96 acres of land, located 7 kms away from their village, situated amidst hills. But, they never ventured to cultivate the land, as it was a rocky terrain. Also, they could not afford for levelling the land.
Meanwhile, the ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (MGNREGA) created a new hope and confidence in them. Under the Employment Guarantee works they all could complete the levelling works in their fields. Government deputed geologists to test the soil, and based on their findings five bores were sunk under the ‘Indira Jala Prabha’ scheme. With this, their barren land got an irrigation facility. With the help derived from different government departments, three transformers and four more bores were installed.
In their vicinity, a teak nursery was started at Ramdass Palli. For its maintenance thirty people got employment. A water storage tank was constructed on the top an adjacent hill to supply water to the nursery by gravity. The nursery supplies 70 teak plants per week to the ‘Harita Haaram’ project.
For a better future, the poor farmers of Cheruguda village(Rangareddy district, Telangana), besides the Employment Guarantee schemes, have utilised some of the welfare schemes of government. As their lands were on the name of Governor, they could not get loan from any bank. Then, they all joined together and collectively formed ‘Peddamma Talli Farmers Society’. As they formed into small groups, each consisting off five members, banks agreed to sanction loans.
These ate the results:
- Once they were all bonded labourers. They all were rehabilitated and now happily living as farmers.
- Recognising their hard work, banks have sanctioned Rs.1 lakh to each group. With that money they planted guava and mango and purchased manures. They are also growing gongura (sorrel leaves) and tomato as inter crops. Growing two crops on bore irrigation is their another achievement.
- Twenty five farmers, who are dalits, are now growing paddy and vegetables in those fields, and are earning a monthly income of Rs.8000/-. Impressed with their sincere efforts in turning a barren land into a fertile farm, the SC Corporation came forward to give them loans. Government too promised to allot them double bed room houses.