Retention policy for illegal buildings in towns, Legislative laws for black money holders, but no mercy on poor farmers
Himachal Pradesh Government’s eviction drive to remove people from encroached forest land is turning out to be an inhuman decision forced on poor farmers with a couple of Bigha and few Biswas in many cases. The government has introduced retention policy to regularize illegal construction in urban regions, but is showing no mercy on marginal farmers or small-scale apple growers who had dared to encroach a couple of bighas decades ago.
The violators and encroachers in towns are given chance to defend, and even legalize their illegally built structures by paying a nominal fee. However, the farmers are not given even a chance to defend themselves.
As per sources, two third of Himachal’s geographical area is under Forest Department and over 68.3 per cent of the farmers have less than a hectare of land. Private land for large-scale farming is scarce, which suggests that it is natural that the horticultural operations would spill over the forest land. Moreover, the government including forest revenue and forest department knew it very well that farming was being carried out on forest. Now, the government declared war on people whom they first encouraged to farm on forest land.
The attitude of government and the way it is conducting eviction is highly suggestible that the commercial buildings built illegally in towns are OK, but apple trees grown on forest land by villagers as their livelihood are not.
Senior leader of CPI(M) Rakesh Singh wrote to the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Devvrat, requesting intervention to prevent demolition of homes of poor, small-scale farmers by the Forest Department under the garb of High Court orders. Himachal Watcher found it worth publishing with little editing as the there are lot of legal and logical arguments in it.
Mr. Rakesh Singh Pleaded that:
Himachal’s Small Farmers Living in Panic of Loosing Shelter
Reports are pouring from different parts of the state i.e. Banjaar, Prini, Naggar, Jagatsukh, Manali, Ani, Nitthar Arsu, Nirmand, Nankhari, Kotkhai, Rohru, Chirgaon, Jubbal, Nerwa, Deha, Chaupal, Theog, Dhar Kandharu, Sharmala etc. where notices have been served on the farmers to vacate their residential houses in which they and their families have been residing since generation.
These notices are being served upon them under the provision of the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises Act 1971. Ninety percent of these farmers belong to poor families owning less than three Bhighas of land in some cases only a few Biswas. They have been terrified because prior to these orders their apple trees were cut without giving them sufficient opportunity to defend themselves. Now, now orders have been made to vacate their homes. They have been ordered to carry out the dismantling of their homes themselves under verbal threats. They are warned that in case they did follow the orders heavy rent penalties along with imprisonment would be imposed on them for continuing to occupy their homes.
Highly Insensitive, Inhuman Step by Forest Deptt.
This step of the Forest Department is not only barbaric, inhuman but an action which amounts to declaring war on the poor. It is nothing but victimizing the Dalits, Widows, Handicapped and other distressed people of the society for no fault of theirs. There are also reports where widow of Army Martyrs are not being spared.
Did their husband lay down their lives in defence of the nation to one day witness the demolition of their homes which even the enemies do not dare to do so?
The government is very busy but, it is a request that Govt. must find time to address the problems of this category of the farmers. They are very much the citizens of this country. People are well aware the government has permitted the non-citizens to reside and carry-out their livelihood then why are the farmers being pushed to a situation where they will be forced to commit suicide?
Even Black Money Holders Being Provided Relief by legislating laws, then why not farmers?
All this is being done under the garb of court orders which are being twisted and being interpreted against the interest of the farmers with the intention to evict the poor and finish the livelihood of his family. The government does not realize that law cannot be interpreted and enforced mechanically. Government is not enforcing law but breaking the backbone of the farmers. Remember when backbone of farmers is broken it will not only lead to a serious Agrarian Crisis but with the loss of his livelihood fields will be prepared to sow the seeds of insurgency. The Government knows very well that even those with black money in this country are being provided relief by legislating laws but the poor farmers who produce food for the country are being treated like enemies. The political bosses will only be doing disservice to the state if such barbaric actions are not stopped forthwith.
Chief Minister should convene a special meeting of the cabinet to address the issues of eviction of the farmers.
Till a special meeting of the cabinet is convened the demolition of the residences of the farmers must be stopped and directions of the Himachal High Court be sought on the implications of the interim orders passed by the court from time to time as quoted above.
Photo: Representational Purpose Only