In 1990-91, a government committee headed by the renowned agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan had noted that more than half of the peasants have no land, while 54% of farm land is owned by just 3% farmers. He had recommended land distribution to the poor as the answer. But, successive governments have paid no heed to this. Here’s a report.
The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (AIKMS) has criticised the central government for continuing anti-farmer policies despite noting that the agrarian sector is in deep crises. The government’s thrust towards more loans and more funds for irrigation equipment will further endanger the survival of Indian agriculture, enhance the ground water depletion and cater to further sale of MNC products, while impoverishing and indebting the peasantry and mortgaging their land, said a press release of the party.
As per 2011 census 54.9% of farmers are landless. Illegal tax extractions by powerful landlords supported by the state machinery, from the poor peasants, and from welfare schemes, is aggravating displacement of peasants from land. Apart from this, urbanisation and establishing industries on farm land and forced displacement is uprooting farmers.
In 1990-91, a government committee headed by the renowned agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan had noted that more than half of the peasants have no land, while 54% of farm land is owned by just 3% farmers. He had recommended land distribution to the poor as the answer. But, successive governments have paid no heed to this and BJP government too has turned a blind eye to it. Huge tracts of agricultural land, including river bed lands continues to remain under their illegal control and in the name of trusts, temples, orchards and also Bhoodan donations. These can be a source of livelihood to the poor, solve the problem of unemployment and prop up Indian markets by increasing earning of the poor.
The government has also virtually ignored implementation of the 2006 Forest Rights Act and has not distributed forest lands to tribal people, who are forced to migrate to cities and serve as cheap unorganised and domestic labourers. Adivasis are 8% of the population.
To redress the problem of returns to farmers Swaminathan Committee had also recommended that the Minimum Support Price, MSP, of crops should be at least 1.5 times the cost of production including cost of labour. However, instead of implementing this, the BJP government constituted the Shanta Kumar Committtee, which recommended that since benefit of MSP is availed by only 8 % of farmers, the government should discontinue the system of support price. Sale of crops should be left to the private sector and rations in PDS should be replaced by cash transfers.
The third All India Conference of AIKMS being held in Allahabad from April 2 to 4 shall address these problems and demand decrease in input costs, government guarantees of profitable purchase of crops, measures to harvest rain water in deep ponds and canals, make welfare schemes corruption free, grant Rs 500 wage rate in MNREGS, supply of all essential items in ration and Rs 3000 per person pension.
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