Rural consumption
According to the market research agency IMRB, the rate of overall household FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) consumption growth in rural India was more than twice as much as in urban areas during the period, January to June, 2015. The IMRB tracks household consumption across 79,400 homes in both urban and rural areas. The rural consumption growth is also significant when compared with a year ago figures. In fact, the rate of growth in rural household consumption had declined 4.2 percent in January-June, 2014.

The Survey says that inflationary and deflationary trends do influence the level of consumption. The sharp rural recovery this year is also due to low base of last year.

One expert has stated, "Rural consumption has not declined, it is urban consumption that has been affected. If there is any slowdown rural areas have felt, it is in discretionary categories like automobile and durables, and not items of daily consumption". The food and beverages category saw volume growth of 5.8 percent in rural areas versus 2.7 percent in urban areas.

However, one thing deserves attention is whether the rise in consumption of necessities is a temporary phenomenon.

There may be rise in consumption when there is a price fall, or when there is a sharp rise in wage rates. Labourers benefit on a lasting basis only when there is a marked improvement in infrastructure, and productive employment.
I Satya Sundaram, Hyderabad

Adani Pench Power Project
Secretary of Kisan Sangharsh Samity (KSS) Sajje Chandravanshi and four others were brutally attacked in village Chaunsara of district Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh on 14 November 2015. Villagers of the area have been resisting the construction of Adani Pench Power Project for past many years due to forcible land acquisition, water diversion from Pench and environmental illegalities that the project proponents have deployed to construct the environmentally damaging 1,320 megawatt (2 x 665 MW) coal-fired power station. It is important to note that this is not the first time that KSS activists were attacked and a similar attack took place on 22 May 2010 where Adv Aradhana Bhargav and Dr Sunilam faced assault from company goons. Instead of bringing perpetrators to trial, police had harassed the villagers even a few months ago when the village meeting held in Sajje Ji's house was forcibly stopped and the 'pandal' was dismantled. Police also picked up the innocent indigenous tent maker to further dampen the spirit of the people who are bravely fighting against the monstrous multi-national both in Supreme Court and in their villages.

Back in 2012, Medha Patkar and 21 KSS activists were arrested in a November night by police in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh as part of a police clampdown on protests against the water diversion project of Pench Power Plant in the district.

The power station received environmental clearance in 2012, which was legally challenged in 2013 by villagers. Proceedings before the National Green Tribunal were stayed by the Supreme Court on 6 January 2014. In April 2014 it was reported that a barricade had been built on a public road between the residents of five villages including Dhanora and Chaunsara, and the Adani Pench Power Ltd (APPL).

Another threat that looms is of displacement. The proposed dam on Pench river will affect about 31 villages and fully submerge about 6 villages (land to come under submergence—over 5,607 hectares). The dam will also provide uninterrupted water to the plant at the cost of irrigation and drinking water for local population.
The petitioners including Medha Patkar, Aradhana Bhargav and Sajje Ji have stated that the Environmental Clearance was obtained by Adani Pench Power Ltd in October, 2012, through falsification, concealment and misrepresentation of facts and information. Further, the Ministry has overlooked the blatant violations of the EIA Notification, 2006 at nearly every stage of the Environmental Clearance process by the various respondents. Land for a thermal power plant was acquired almost 25 years ago by the then Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB), which was later illegally transferred to Adani Power Limited, however the project was not started and the physical possession remained with the farmers, who had been tilling the same till the time they were forcefully displaced by this company, claiming that there is no issue of rehabilitation involved. Construction activity of the project commenced as early as in March, 2010, prior to grant of environmental clearance and although the commencement of the construction was brought to the notice of the state and Central authorities, no action was taken against them.

If the Madhya Pradesh government cannot protect its honest citizens who are fighting against evils like sand mining, and environmental degradation then it will become clear that jungle-raj is prevailing in the state while it is trying to woo foreign investors.

Medha Patkar, Dr Sunilam, Aradhana Bhargav, Mahendra Yadav, Kailash Mina, Madhuresh, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Rishit, Shabnam, Prafulla Samantara, Meera, Bilal

Vol. 48, No. 26, Jan 3 - 9, 2016