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22 Apr 1990

The Report traces the complex and unjust geo-political and social practices leading to an agrarian crisis in Palamu. Palamu is part of South Bihar Plateau and has the lowest population density in Bihar of 1989. There is abject shortage of water as natural water sources don’t benefit the area much and rainfall has declined over the years due to deforestation. Only one river Koel flowing from the south benefit the area but the river and its tributaries too dry up in summer. The hilly and forested terrain along with water insufficiency makes agriculture difficult and palamu was also a chronic drought prone area. But still agriculture is the main source of employment for more than 85% of the working population.

Oppressive tenurial arrangements that got strengthened during British rule led to indebtedness amongst peasants as a result of which they lost their lands to zamindars. This process resulted in people becoming laborers in their own lands. Over the years, this exploitative system made Palamu to have highest land concentration in the state.  Eventually, in the late 1980’s the skewd land distribution and exploitation by estate owners over lower wages, control of Gair Mazurua land (common land) and mahua flowers led to a violent conflict in the region with landowners floating their own private armies like, Krishak Sevak Samaj and Sunlight Sena. 

The Report Koel ke Kinare brings out the reign of terror that these senas had in the region and how the administration and the police acted in support of the private armies than the poor villagers and peasant activists who were often the targets of the attacks and raids of these senas. The report questions the partisan role of the state in settling the social conflict over common land by treating land owners and peasants equally.

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