Farmers suffer as AoL event takes off

INDIA-ENVIRONMENT/ People sit on the steps of a stage at the venue of World Culture Festival on the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi | Reuters

The organisers of the sprawling World Culture Festival on the ecologically fragile Yamuna floodplain may boast a stage almost 100 feet tall and covering seven acres, but it does not please Mangal Chaudhury who lost vegetables worth Rs.50,000 because of the event.

Mangal, who lives in a hutment (jhuggis) on the Yamuna Khadar (river's flood plain) near Mayur Vihar, lost his entire vegetable crop following bulldozing by the administration to level the flood plain to carve out a road for the event.

"It was time to harvest the vegetables, but the vegetables have been damaged. We had grown vegetables on five-bigha land ... now not even half bigha of land is left. They have used it for making roads," said Mangal.

Four bighas equal one acre of land.

Mangal grew tomato, peas, gourd, bitter gourd, spinach, mustard and ridge gourd on his 5-bigha land.

"We spent more than Rs.20,000 for growing the vegetables. Now, we are left with nothing," Mangal said.

Mangal is originally from Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh and had shifted to Delhi in 1994.

There are about 3,000-4,000 jhuggis in the Yamuna Khadar area.

One of his sisters, Rekha, who is a class 12 student at a corporation school in Mayur Vihar, said: "With this crop, we could have survived for the next six months. But now we have nothing. The next farming season will begin only in August."

"The Delhi Development Authority officials also threatened that they might even demolish our jhuggis for the construction of roads for the event. We don't know what will happen to us," lamented Rekha.

Another family which lives in the same locality was apprehensive about their jhuggi being demolished by the administration.

"A few people had come to tell us that our jhuggi will be demolished for construction of road for the event. Where will we go, if they demolish our house," wondered Phule Devi, who was busy preparing small fish for dinner.

The Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is organising the World Cultural Festival from March 11 to 13 on the right bank of river Yamuna in Delhi.

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Topics : #Art of Living

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