Land Reforms: West Bengal marches ahead
Kolkata March 18th –Out of the One crore 35 lakh agricultural land in the state West Bengal more than 84% is in the hands of small and marginal farmers of the state while the all India average lies at a dismal 43%.Out of the extra ceiling land which has been distributed more than 22% of that land has been in West Bengal. More than 55% of the land patta distribution has occurred in West Bengal. In India, a total of 55 lakh 74thousand 2 hundred and six families have received Land Patta out of which 30lakh families are from this state.
The state has also done exemplary work on gender equality. West Bengal has been a pioneer in the case of Joint Patta distribution i.e. Land deed registered both on husband and wife’s name. A total of 6lakh’s 3 thousand 987 families has received joint patta. According to Central government statistics about 53.2 % families in India who have benefitted from the land reforms inn the country hails from West Bengal. West Bengal has also taken exemplary measures when it comes to agricultural loans. In 1975-76 200 crores were distributed as agricultural loans in the state. The same figure runs to about 2969.82 crores in the year 2005-2006. This feat has been accompanied mainly by empowering the various co-operative and rural development banks in the state of West Bengal as the Nationalised banks has played a negative role in giving agricultural loans to the poor people of the state. This effort can be safely said to be in stark contrast to the reality where in the other states of India about one farmer per 30seconds commits suicide.
In the three consecutive years from 2005-2006 to 2008-2009 the total amount of land acquired by the Government 10207 acres while in the same time about 29 thousand 937 acres has been distributed to the landless in the state . In all the ratio of distribution to land acquired for industrialisation purpose to land acquired as been a staggering 262%.In the fiscal year 2007- 2008 ,West Bengal government set a target to vest about 5000 acres of ceiling excess land in the state . That year also, the target has been reached as a total of about 5462 acres of land being vested by the government .However after the opposition Trinamool ruled Zilla Parisahad has managed to form the board at South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore this process has received a serious jolt there. In the year 2005-2006 about 2322 acres of land was acquired while in the next year i.e. 2006-2007 about 4135 acres of land was acquired. In the same period the figure of land distributed in the state runs at 10800 acres and 10953 acres respectively.
The tribals have also been benefitted from the land reforms. While the people from Tribal ethnicity constitutes about 5.5% of West Bengal’s population about 19.3 % of the beneficiaries who received land deed(patta) of the Land reform process are tribals while 11% of the total bargadars (share Croppers) are tribals. Another interesting aspect of the land reform process has been that 25% of the total beneficiaries of the land reform process are from the minorities’ community. The share of land cultivated by the Muslims in West Bengal is 25.6%, which is the second highest in the country (second only to Jammu and Kashmir where the share is 30.3%). About 56% of the beneficiaries of the Land reform process are Dalits and adivasis.
Strengthening the notion that land distribution is a continious process the state even had distributed land Patta of about 469 acres in Bankura in the current fiscal year, to about 3500 families out of which 1062 were from schedule castes, 736 tribals and 178 from the minorities’ community. It should be kept in mind that programme was held braving the onslaughts of the Congress Trinamool and Maoist combine where they threatened to stall that initiative of the state government by creating planned anarchy and disturbance in the state specially in the western parts of the state i.e. in the districts of West Midnapore ,Bankura and Purulia.