“I don’t know what the government wants. But by cheating me, by acquiring my land, the government has ruined my life.”
These are words of Deepak Vaidya, a resident of Tamesarnagar village, Balarampur District, Chhattisgarh. He used to own a small piece of land on which he would grow maize. He was a sustenance farmer. At the end of a harvest, he would have just about enough crop to put food on the table for his family. Then in 2007, the government cheated him off his land.
Deepak has an eye condition. He is slowly losing his vision. His wife and him have been rolling beedis (leaf cigarettes) for their income all his life. Deepak is well practiced so continues to roll them despite his weakening eyes. They are paid Rs. 40/- (approx. 0.70 $) for every 1000 beedis rolled. His wife also brings in some money by washing utensils in the houses of the richer folk in the village. Deepak and his wife work to support two small children and Deepak’s aged parents who all live under the same small roof. .
Deepak’s land was acquired by the government to construct a playground. He was not given compensation. Instead he received a piece of land on a hilly region close to the mines. The land is uneven and sinks as much as it rises. It will cost him lakhs of rupees only to level the land before he has any plans of farming on it. Since 2007, the family has been gradually sinking into poverty and depression.
Deepak is only one of the victims in the region swindled by the government for the playground. “I wanted him to be the voice and face of the people and the issue because of all the people, Deepak has been the most profoundly affected,” says Community Correspondent Ashit Ray. “He was most marginalized and the most voiceless person affected by the issue. But when he narrated his story for the camera, it became the most powerful.”
Ashit stays in the neighborhood. Deepak is a long time friend. When Ashit trained with Video Volunteers as a Community Correspondent, he decided that Deepak’s story was the first he would produce.
Says Ashit, “I told him – once your story is made, I will stand behind your cause, a 100%. Until you see this through, I will stand behind you. The hundreds who see this video will come over stand behind us.”
“We will not be alone.”
Call to Action: You can support Ashit, Deepak and his family in their struggle by calling the District Collector of Balrampur on +919425254002 and call his attention to the land issue in Tamesarnagar village in his district and demand that Deepak Vaidya receive fair compensation for his acquired land.