(7th April 2013)
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE RAILWAY MINISTER:
I am writing to you this letter with the simple solution to benefit the nation in totality towards green abundance. The solution will benefit the Indian Railways, majority of the landless farmers of our nation and the citizen with fresh healthy greens (saag) throughout the nation and the nation’s economy.
To understand the simple solution, first I wish to write about a farmer from Uttar Pradesh, who provided me the insight to suggest such a reality that is simple, effective and possible to make India proud.
THE CASE STUDY:
Farmer: Ravindra Kumar Kewat
Village: Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh
Farming: On a patch of acres adjacent to Guru Teg Bahadur Station in Mumbai
Family Consists of:
Father: Working in BMC, Mumbai
Mother: Housewife / Farm Labourer
Brother: Working in Merchant Navy
Self: Full time farming, growing greens / vegetables since the last 13 years in Mumbai.
Wife: Housewife / Farm Labourer.
Daughter: 2 years young
Farm Labourers: Four
Monthly Salary of each Labourer: Rs. 3 to 4,000 /- Monthly + Meals two times daily.
Annual Rental of the patch of land (1 acre): Rs. 9,000 /- (is given to the Railway Employee, who has leased the land, as Railways don’t give the land to farmers directly – the rental for Railway Employees is very-very less as compared to what the farmers pay the employee who leases the land.)
Farming is done 12 Months of the Year.
Mode of Irrigation: Drainage along the Railway tracks.
Urea & Fertilizer are used.
During Summer & Winter: GREENS: Palak, Pui Saag, Hara aur Lal Maat, Chauli, Raddish
During Monsoon: Bhindi, Chauli
Yearly income (after all expenses are taken care of) Rs. 1,00,000 /-
SIMPLE & EFFECTIVE:
When I was living in Mumbai, I was always fascinated to see farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar farming in hot sun and monsoon all along the railway tracks, keeping the area green and clean from local residents along the tracks, who defecate early morning by farming on these tracks of land all along the railway lines. These farmers do wonders, to supply the daily greens at cheaper rate for the citizen to benefit all along the local markets and local railways stations.
Because of these farmers, the foul stench of early morning defecation, in many stations along the Western, Central and Harbour Lines have seen a drastic change since the last couple of years, all thanks to the dedicated lot of farmers from UP and Bihar.
I interviewed farmer Ravindra Kumar Kewat on 15th March 2013 and the startling revelation made me to write this open letter to you. Ravindra revealed that near about 90 per cent of the farmers, who grow vegetables are from UP and Bihar. Majority of them (near about 85 to 90 per cent) do farming for 8 months and return to village during Mumbai monsoon season. However, 10 to 15 per cent cultivate greens and vegetables throughout the year.
When I told him I will be writing about him and his hard work in my blog, Ravindra was very happy and insisted that I should write for the whole nation to benefit from such an endeavour. I assured him that was my sole aim in interviewing him. He was candid and didn’t hesitate to narrate the dangers and problems faced by farmers like him. He said, “We don’t get any security from the Railways. If Railways provide us security, we can be more effective and can grow more and more vegetables. Sometimes local goons from the nearby shanties and drunkards create problems for us. Sometimes, the locals steal greens and on purpose defecate in fields to create unwanted problems. We have to keep high level of patience to see all these things happening on and off.”
Farmer Ravindra Kumar Kewat
When I asked how Railways can help these farmers, he said, “There is no electricity supply for us and there is no drinking water available. We have to fetch water from far away. If electricity supply is provided, we can use it to run our pumps to irrigate the vegetables and our investment will come down. Sometimes some railways’ employees throw dirty oil in the drains, which makes us to fetch water from far away to irrigate our land. If these problems are looked upon by railways, we can grow more greens per acre.”
ONE OF THE LARGEST NETWORKS IN THE WORLD:
As per Wikipedia: It is one of the world's largest railway networks comprising 1,15,000 km (71,000 miles) of track over a route of 65,000 km (40,000 miles) and 7,500 stations and as per TOI report: India comes fifth with 62,658 km of railroad after Canada and China.
Now imagine the scale and magnitude at which, we, as the nation, with the help of all the landless farmers can do, if all along the tracks greens and vegetables are cultivated with the help of Indian Railways.
Indian Railways will earn huge yearly revenues in billions by leasing the unutilised track of lands to landless farmers directly (not through their employees).
The landless farmers of the nation will get to earn their own by working on this patch of lands, which in turn, will contribute in billions towards nation’s earnings to simultaneously eradicate unemployment of landless farmers.
The green abundance will make India as the nation to export greens and vegetables to various countries to earn foreign exchange for the nation in billions.
The green abundance will feed the nation’s billion plus population and there will be no shortage of vegetables anywhere in India.
All along the tracks, because of green fields, beautification of the whole area will be an added feature of Indian Railways for the passengers to enjoy.
These farmers will also save Indian Railways’ lands that are mostly grabbed by local goons and politicians for vote banks.
The nation will be an example for the whole world to replicate the model in their respective countries to benefit their citizen and nation.
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