Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 6:
After being slammed by one and all over the current spate of farmer suicides in the state, wisdom has finally donned on the Odisha government.
The state government has started the process for identification of sharecroppers. A committee headed by Development Commissioner Upendra Nath Behera at a recently held meeting decided to send a team to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to study how it has formulated a policy for protection and recognition of sharecroppers in its state.
The meeting decided to include a senior official of a State Cooperative Bank, a representative from the Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare department and Nabard officials apart from principal secretary Agriculture Manoj Ahuja in the team that will visit Andhra Pradesh.
The committee will study various aspects of land reforms undertaken by Andhra Pradesh government in respect of tenancy rights, its implication and also credit and other facilities available to the tenant farmers
After the committee completes its study and submits a report to the government, it will take a final call on the issue.
It may be mentioned here that with problems of sharecroppers getting acute in the state, farmer suicides have surged pushing the state into a deep agrarian crisis.
In Odisha in most cases, the land owner doesn’t cultivate the land but it is the sharecropper who cultivates the land and bears the brunt in cases of natural calamities and bad weather conditions while the land owner enjoys loans, benefits, waivers etc. from the government by presenting his land patta (document citing the name of the title holder of the land).
In many cases there is diversion of agricultural loans for other purposes by land owners who avail it on easy terms by presenting their patta.
On the other hand, according to the Odisha Land Reforms Act if any land owner gives his land to a sharecropper for cultivation for a continuous period and the government has evidence of it, the land will go to government records.
Especially, for this particular reason land owners are not acknowledging sharecroppers.