Badal wants states to allow Punjabi farmers to buy land (Punjab Newsletter)

By Jaideep Sarin, Chandigarh, Aug 29 : Punjabi farmers may be successfully doing agriculture in faraway South and North America and Africa but they seem to be unwelcome in some states within the country.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal now wants the central government to intervene and let Punjabi farmers buy land in other states.

Farmers from the state have been, in the last over a decade, buying land in other states for pursuing agriculture. Many Punjabi farmers have established themselves in states like Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

With states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir banning property transactions by outsiders, Punjabi farmers have been affected.

Badal has assured Punjabi farmers that he would take up the matter with the centre for allowing them to buy agricultural land in other states. He has asked Punjab's Financial Commissioner-Development (FCD) to prepare a detailed proposal on this to be sent to the Inter-State Council for an early resolution.

"The main reason for some farmers from Punjab moving to other states is the limited agricultural land available. The high cost of land in the state due to rapid urbanisation also became an attractive proposition for many farmers to sell their agricultural land here and buy it at much cheaper rates in other states," horticulturist Bhagwant Singh told IANS.

Punjab, the state that spearheaded India's Green Revolution in the 1960s to make the country self-sufficient in foodgrain, has only 1.54 percent of the country's geographical area. The state's size shrunk considerably after large parts went to Pakistan after the country's partition in August 1947 and later two states - Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh, were carved out of it.

The landholdings of most farmers in Punjab is very small - anything from 0.5 to three acres. Thousands of farmers in the state are reeling under huge debts - and the total is estimated at a staggering Rs.40,000 crore.

To save the farmers and farm labourers from the undue exploitation at the hands of money lenders, Badal has directed that the Punjab Indebtedness Act soon be enacted as sought by the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU).

Some farmers from Punjab have gone and established themselves in agricultural and related activities in Canada, the US, Argentina, Brazil and Australia, as also in Central Asian and European countries.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 29-08-2013)

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