Saturday 17 November 2018

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Sorrowing Lies My Land

 

The Land Revenue Code of Goa, Daman and Diu is an exception. This has resulted in non-agriculturists as well as non-Goans buying large tracts of fertile agricultural land in Goa. A cursory look at the records of the Sub Registrars at Taluka headquarters is sufficient to gauge the extent of sale of agricultural properties to non Goans since liberation of Goa.


“Sorrowing Lies My Land”- Wrote Lambert Mascarenhas a few decades ago. Our land continues to lie sorrowing because there is no one around to save it from the clutches of the land sharks, real estate agents and the swelling tribe of politicians and bureaucrats hungry for fast bucks. Large Sections of Goans fought against merger of Goa with Maharashtra and succeeded. Their battle cry was “Amchem Goem Amka Zai” (We want Goa for Goans). Statehood was the culmination of their demand for separate existence within the frame work of Constitution of India. However the battle cry of “Goa for Goans” still reverberates. Goans now want special status for State of Goa. They want amendments to the Constitution of India to ensure that Goan land remains the property of Goans. They   want institutional curbs on outsiders (bhaile) buying land in Goa. However, Special Status for Goa is not an easily achievable dream in the context of the political, regional and ethnic complexities of the Country. While everyone cries hoarse over large scale immigration and acquisition of large tracts of Goan real Estate by non- Goans  including foreigners, no thought whatsoever is being given to what our Legislature can do to save at least agricultural land from  acquisition by non- agriculturists and non- Goans.

The Legislative Assembly of Goa, Daman and Diu enacted the Land Revenue Code in 1968. It is a verbatim copy of Revenue Codes of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat etc but with a major variation as regards to sale, purchase and holding of agricultural land. Readers may recollect that the veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan, a confirmed non agriculturist, was hauled up for acquiring agriculture properties somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. The media feasted on this “scam” and ultimately brought Amitabh Bachchan to his knees. Amitabh had to relinquish his rights in the land purchased by him. All this happened because Land Revenue Code of Uttar Pradesh stipulates that no agricultural land can be sold to or purchased or held by a non- agriculturist. There are penal provisions against transgressions of the statutory embargo on sale to and purchase and holding of agricultural land by non- agriculturists.  Similar provisions exist in the Land Revenue Codes of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and perhaps every other State in the Country.

The Land Revenue Code of Goa, Daman and Diu is an exception. This has resulted in non-agriculturists as well as non-Goans buying large tracts of fertile agricultural land in Goa. A cursory look at the records of the Sub Registrars at Taluka headquarters is sufficient to gauge the extent of sale of agricultural properties to non Goans since liberation of Goa. I know of a Sale Deed registered at Pedne under which one half of the entire village of Hassapur has been purchased by a party from Tamil Nadu. Those who raise the battle cry of “Goa for Goans” may therefore collect the data from the offices of sub- registrars and then decide whether any Goan Land is at all left for them to cry and fight for.

State government however has been continuously making huge budgetary provisions for providing irrigation facilities. Major, Minor and tiny irrigation schemes have been constructed creating an irrigation potential for more than 30000 Ha. Subsidies for farm machinery and implements, seeds and fertilizers as well as support price for all and every agricultural product is given year after year. The Minister for Agriculture religiously makes tall announcements of huge budgetary allocations and paints rosy pictures of Agricultural growth. On the other hand we continue to import farm products including milk, poultry, meat, fruits, vegetables, rice and grains from rest of the Country. This year the Chief Minister has made one more announcement. He will request the second Law Commission to draft a law on contract farming.

Goa is a glorious tourist destination. It has also become a great destination for leisure, pleasure, and of course drugs and casinos. Non- Goans and Non- Indians as well aspire as a matter of status, to own a second home in Goa. Absence of statutory provisions on sale, purchase and holding of agricultural land affords a golden opportunity to speculative investors to lap up low priced agricultural land and wait for favorable climes to convert such lands into prime non- agricultural lands for housing and commercial purposes. The regional plan of 2011, which was later scrapped, is a classic document which proves the extent of the manipulative prowess of the triumvirate of land dealers, bureaucrats and politicians.  

All is not, though, lost as yet. It is still possible to take immediate steps to prevent further sale, purchase and holding of agricultural land by non agriculturists. The Legislative Assembly may do this through an amendment of the Land Revenue Code of 1968. Provisions on the lines of the neighboring States of Maharashtra or Karnataka can be introduced. The second Law Commission’s Report No. 18 titled.  “Conservation and Management of Agricultural Land and Water Bodies, Saving Goan Agricultural Land for Goans, Contract Farming, Co-operative farms, Farming Estates, Prevention of fragmentation, discharge of joint responsibilities of land holders, standards of cultivation, etc.” may be consulted by the Government for this purpose. It has a special chapter on Contract Farming as well. (Full text of the report is available on www.goalawcommission.gov.in).  




Neither Mr. Khalap nor his former Party MGP can claim any credit or discredit for the “Land to the Tiller” concept. India adopted it during the struggle for independence and implemented it before and after Independence. World adopted it much earlier. Marx and Engels conceptualized it. Lenin through his Bolshevic Revolution translated it into practice. Mao-tse-dong perfected it. Marxism, Communism, Socialism, and the philosophies believed the concept of “Land to the Tiller”. In simpler words, “Land to the Tiller” means abolition of “absentee landlordism”. In short, no person or organization, church, mosque, temple, or Communidade have a right to live off the labour of a Tiller. It is inhuman and immoral. Concept has therefore been endorsed by United Nations and by almost every democratic Country including UK and US. Whenever it succeeded, agriculture flourished. Faulty implementation brought tears and conflict. Naxalbari Movement arose due to failure of implementation of Land to the Tiller Laws. MGP carried forward what other Indian States and many Countries in the world had already done.

Had Congress, United Goans or today’s BJP come to power after Liberation of Goa, they too would have enacted and implemented similar laws. That was the pressure of the times.

Mr. Pinto and his fellow travellers should not think themselves as a class apart from the rest of the world.

By the way does Mr. A. Pinto think that the proposal of enacting a law banning sale of agricultural lands to non agriculturist is not in interest of Goans? C’mon Mr. A. Pinto.

 
sumi gaunkar |

Mr. Ramakant Khalap & his former MG Party are responsible for the destruction of agriculture in Goa. They brought in the "Land to the Tiller Act" from neigbouring Maharashtra State without realizing the size of Goa , thereby destroying the age old institutions of Communidades which were basically Agricultural institutions, which used to look after the productivity of the fields. If they were left barren then they used to auction it for the next bidder who was ready to cultivate it. And are Tillers doing agriculture in Goa ?

 
A. Pinto |

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Ramakant Khalap

Adv Ramakant Khalap is former Chairman of the Goa State Law Commission. Being a veteran politician of Goa, he has served the political arena as the union law minister as well as Goa’s deputy chief minister and the opposition leader in the past. He also takes keen interest in literature and cultural activities while heading several institutions, especially in the field of Marathi literature.

 

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