Shimla: Unions of three farmers organizations have announced to hold a protest demonstration on November 16 at Shimla over the state government failing to issue directives to regularize encroachments of up to 10 bigha (2 acres) of public lands, something that the was committed at a consultation meeting with chief minister Virbhadra Singh on August 27.
Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, President of Himachal Pradesh Kissan Sabha, Rakesh Singha, President of Himachal Pradesh Seb Utpadak Sangh and Sunder Nanta, President of Pujarli Kissan Bagwan Union at a conference call here today put the authorities on notice about the protest call.
On August 27, we had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister as well as Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal at the state assembly asking for the houses intervention to stop the eviction drive being done at the behest of the state high court, said Tanwar.
The chief minister has assured us about bring out a policy to regularize the encroachment, increasing the limit from 5 to 10 bighas, he said. Three months have lapsed but the government has not moved, he added.
Farmers are feeling cheated as the government is attempting to defer the issue because of the forthcoming Panchayati Raj elections, say the leaders.
Holding out that both BJP led NDA and Congress headed UPA were pursuing anti farmer policies, Tanwar said that the government had failed to bring respite to the farmers from wild animals responsible for destroying crops and livelihoods in the state.
Neither government has been able to take out effective steps to contain the menace of monkeys and other wild animals destroy precious crops, he said.
He said that there were about 37,000 stray animals in the state, which cannot be managed by the state entirely.
Farmers have been left to bear the consequences of stray and wild animals and there was no institution in the state, which includes universities, that could devise a solution to the problem, said the farm leader.
Singha said the November 16 farmers protest was intended to galvanize support from the community across the state.
He said that the state after have committed to give respite to farmers had so far not even proposed a policy or submitted an affidavit to effect before the court in support of marginal farmers.
He claimed that women and dalit’s were being picked as soft targets over eviction from encroached lands by the state.
Eviction drive against small encroachers was still going on and apple tress of a number of households in Kullu had only recently been pruned, claimed Singha.
Mrs Vidya Devi of Lathi Village in Kumarsain has been a victim of this pick and choose policy. Her three story house has been demolished and over 120 apple trees have been cut by the administration, said Singha.
He said that 41 families in Arki Tehsil were faced disconnection of water and electric connections, without even being issued any notices and a number of cases still pending before the courts.
Singha charged the state for cheating famers in 2002 by first offering to regularize encroachments over public lands by bringing a suitable legislation and later booking them under the law by issue eviction notices after the innocent farmers had submitted affidavits to claim regularizations of encroached lands.
There was hardly any family in rural and urban areas who was not allured by the government announcement to regularize lands which they owned up to claim as encroach upon, said Singha.