By: ML Verma
Kullu: A day-long state level convention was organized by Himachal Kisan Sabha (HKS) at Kullu on Thursday in which hundreds of farmers raised their voice against the alleged anti-people, anti-farmer timber distribution policy notified recently by Himachal Pradesh forest department.
The convention was addressed by Dr Kuldip Singh Tanwar, state president of Himachal Kisan Sabha. After intervention of Himachal Pradesh High Court, the state government had framed a new policy on distribution of timber rights known as ‘TD’ policy. Placing a report prepared by HKS in its inauguration address, Dr Prakash explained how timber distribution rights came into existence.
Tanwar said that the basic flaw with the new TD policy is that the premise on which this has been drafted i.e., to check misuse of timber, would in fact be the biggest casualty as the mafia and the rich would gain the maximum from this policy. He said that timber would be provided at 30 percent of the actual cost. The actual cost has risen to almost 10,000 to 12,000 times. “A cubic meter of timber of cedrus deodara costs around Rs 60,000. Which means that 3 cubic meter would be for Rs 1,80,000. Now 30 percent of this amounts to Rs 54,000. Such a huge amount for a poor household is impossible. It needs to be reiterated that more than 80 percent of the total land holding in the state is either poor peasant of marginal farmer. And interestingly. 80 percent of this population is Dalit. Hence to expect such a section to avail this facility would be like building castles in air,” he reasoned.
He further said that the TD rates should be reduced to meet the demand of the common man. “Similarly, the quantity and period of TD distribution has to be amended so that it can meet the demands of construction and repair. Apart from the TD, the rights associated like the right to extract forest produce, bamboo for making baskets, agricultural implements, fodder and fuel wood also needs to be guaranteed,” Tanwar said.
He said that Himachal Kisan Sabha would raise this issue through demonstrations and rallies in front of the offices of conservator of forests and DFOs and submit memorandums to the government through them.