October 20th 2010: KVK Margao assures Kisan Swaraj Yatra “No more GM trials”

After two exhausting days due to the bus fiasco, the tired but determined Yatris bounced back with the same energy and eagerness that they have had over the past 20 days as the second day in Goa began.

The day began with a protest against Bt Brinjal and such GM seeds.

On the 20th October, the yatris were joined by activists of Goenchea Xetkaramcho Ekvott as well as members of the Organic Farming Association of India [OFAI]. They all gathered outside the Krishi Vigyan Kendra [KVK], an ICAR-funded extension office managed by the Goa Directorate of Agriculture at Margao Farm next to Rajendra Prasad stadium and the track of the “Sky-Train”.

With angry shouts of slogans against BT Brinjal and other GM manipulations by the corporates with the KVKs, the yatris asked for the KVK authorities to show up so as to explain their concerns.

When the in-charge Shri Babal S. Prabhu Malkarnekar and Shri Pandit did come out they had to listen to the protest, slogans and also the serious concerns of yatris. Without mincing any words they were told about the trespass of KVK and the mindless over-stepping of its mandate by carrying out research trials. They were informed about the lack of biosafety of Bt Brinjal and how environmental and health hazards are inherent in the technology.

They also protested against the connivance in the “stealing” of a local Goan variety of Brinjal “Agasaim” to create the “Event” [technical jargon for Genetically Modified version of a known cultivated crop “variety” or “cultivar”] GO-112.

Dr Prabhu Malkarnekar assured the Yatris and Goans assembled there that there have been no more transgenic trials and that they will not take up any more.

This officer did agree to convey the message to the head of the KVK when he resumes duty.

The Yatra then moved on to Collamba village, affected by mining all around its pristine surrounds. We walked through the green fields to look at how mining around the village is affecting the land, fields, water etc. Visually, it really felt like the “rape of the land” when we looked around. It was shocking to hear how the villagers were being troubled by the police. The intelligence guys turned up first thing in the morning to find out what was happening during the day when the Kisan Swaraj Yatra comes into the village, we were told.

All of us felt moved by the struggle being put up by the local people for saving their resources and their way of life, and felt very indignant about the role of the State in this whole affair. After extending our solidarity to their cause, we moved on.

This time, it was two public transport buses that ferried all of us into Dharwad, as the Yatra entered Karnataka.

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