Seeking ordinance to regularize encroachments made by small and marginal farmers in the hill state CPI (M) threatens to call Dehat Band (Rural blocked) in all parts of Himachal Pradesh on September 2, 2015.
Addressing joint press conference of Himachal Pradesh Kissan Sabha and Seb Utpadak Sangh former state General Secretary of CPI (M) Mr. Rakesh Singha said that 1,67339 farmers, most of them having small land holdings of about three to four bighas are being evicted from their orchards and getting deprived from their age old possessions which have been wrongly converted into the pools of forest land after coming in force of Forest Conservation Act 1986.
Mr. Singha said that party has given a call of Dehat bandh on September 2, 2015 as all small establishments, markets, banks, post offices, transport, supply of fruit, vegetable and milk are to be remained off. The party has demanded an ordinance and joint resolution in the state assembly to stop eviction of farmers as it is creating unrest among the people.
Mr.Singha said that apple is the livelihood of common people in the hill state as more than 5.25 lakh households are directly or indirectly dependent upon the apple economy for their livelihood and however nearly one lakh hectare area is under the apple cultivation. Mr. Singha said that eviction process is being carried out in all the districts and there are about 192 cases of minor encroachments in Lahaul Spiti district where in 104 households water and power connections have already been disconnected.
CPI (M) leader also said that state government is presenting a wrong picture among the masses and action was taken against the small fishes, as 88 percent of the evicted are Dalits or the weaker sections. Along with that he also gave number of examples where action was being taken by administration to evict small farmers”.
Manda Ram in Sandasu village of Shimla district has lost all the apple trees and has been left with 1.25 Bighas of land. Mr.Singha also gave another instance where a farmers, widow, Ms. Gudi Devi of Tikkar was evicted after cutting down eight apple trees and who now left with only 2.10 Bighas of land.
He said that Sharda of Kangshadwai village whose land has been washed down in the flash floods few years back has been facing the eviction move. Mr. Singha said that Narayan Singh and Gayan Singh belongs to Ghund village of Shimla district and have lost 6.50 Bighas land for village road and has been issued seven Bighas land by the Gram Panchayat but in the eviction both had to surrenders the orchards which they have developed with hard toil and shedding sweat.
Bineta Devi who was given notice of nine days to pick up apples from trees however all her trees were chopped down by the forest department and police within four days ahead of earlier notice. Dr. Kuldeep Singh Tanwar president of Himachal Kissan Sabha (HKS) said that there are a total of 9.60 lakh landholdings in the state as 53 percent of farmers have less than six Bighas of land compared to requisite 20 Bighas required for agricultural activities.
The centre government frameed first forest conservation policy in 1988 in which hill states has been targeted to have 67 per cent area under forest however but currently the state has just got 11.74 per cent arable land which is not enough to render livelihood of 44 percent farmers of this hill state. He said that eviction proceeding have been started in 701 Gram panchayats however those having grabbed big estates are still out of this process.
Party said that government should come out with white paper on the issues of encroachments so that action could be taken against who are grabbing major chunk of public premises Party also warned that it would lodge protest of farmers in-front of Vidhan Sabha and a big delegation of farmers would met the members of assembly and the Chief Minister to raise their demands and would file a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme court in interest of the farmers.