Even as a high-level ministerial committee is working on formulation of a land leasing Act to benefit sharecroppers, over 20 farmer organisations on Monday demanded that the State government incorporate views of general public by holding ‘palli sabhas’.
Farmer organisations, which joined hands to put pressure on the government for a robust law that would treat sharecropper no less than a farmer, were of the view that “the all-important law which would affect lakhs of sharecroppers cannot be framed by talking to 50 representatives drawn from 30 per cent of all tehsils. Bureaucrats and rich class are trying to create the law in haste.”
“We have strongly demanded that the government postpone the last date for soliciting suggestions and include all sections of society, especially farmers community,” Suresh Panigrahi, CPI(M) leader, said addressing a convention on rights of sharecroppers here on Monday.
Mr. Panigrahi said: “The government should carry out a comprehensive survey identifying different sharecroppers existing in the State. They should be duly registered and provided with identity card.”
‘Create farmer welfare fund’
Under the banner of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), Odihsa, these organisations emphasised on creating a ‘Farmer Welfare Fund’ for farmers and sharecroppers and making provisions for pension and other welfare schemes for them. All organisations resolved to mobilise people’s support for a strong land leasing act throughout the month of June.
“The land owners should be assured of ownership rights in the event of leasing out to sharecropper. The lease period between land owner and sharecroppers should be minimum 5 years. The maximum period of the lease should be determined mutually between both land owner and sharecropper,” said Narendra Mohanty of BAA.
The BAA convention demanded that both land owner and sharecropper be left to decide on amount of investment to be made for farming and sharing of the produce. It added that sharecropper should get the first right of purchasing the land in the event of land owner selling it.
Sharecroppers must be eligible for availing all government welfare schemes including bank loans, crop insurance, right to sell crop at mandis and purchase of pesticide and fertilisers at subsidised rate, the convention emphasised.
Speaking on the occasion, Lok Shakti Abhijan president Prafulla Samantra said the government must make stringent law for preventing agricultural land from being diverted for non-agricultural purposes as it would jeopardise food security of the society. Organisations such as Odisha Krushak Sabha, Akhil Bharat Krushak Sabha, Akhil Bharat Krushak Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Akhil Bharat Krushak Mahasabha, Akhil Bharat Krushak Krantikari Sabha, Chasi Mulia Sangha, Rushikulya Ryot Mahasabha, Lok Shakti Abhijan and Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti participated in the convention.