The Himachal Pradesh CPM has opposed the cutting of apple trees and given a call of ‘Chipko’ movement to protect plants from the nefarious government of the state.
CPM leaders Tikender Singh Panwar, Rajender Chauhan and Sanjay Chauhan, in their joint statement, accused the state government for taking the HP High Court order as a pretext to willfully evict the apple growers out of the land where they have been harvesting for years together. Without going into the merits of the case at the moment the CPM wish to bring the historical background of the evolution and development of land relations in the state and not just ridicule the present day order on the prima facie evidence been generated by the government and its various para statal organizations.
The state with its major land reforms under a) HP Nautor Land Rules 1968 b) HP Ceiling on land holdings Act, 1971 c) HP Tenancy and land reforms Act, 1972, and d) HP village Common Lands vesting and Utilization Act, 1974 could lay the foundation of the development of peasant agriculture and horticulture in the state. The then Dr. Y.S Parmar government even gave the slogan of ‘Grow More’ where the farmers were asked to mitigate their misery of poverty and hunger by enhancing their agricultural and horticultural production.
However after the nationalization of the forests in 80s, the forest instead of being the state subject fell in the concurrent list. The state government lost its right to use such land which it could in the interest of its people. Presently there is more than 66 percent of forest. The total land with the people that is being used for agriculture is just 10 percent which means that actually nearly 90 percent land is minus agriculture or with the government. How do the people survive in such an environment? That too in a post neo liberal regime where the state which was one of the largest sources of employment generation and had developed the social infrastructure is now pulling behind. All the hulla ballo about encroachments depict that only 0.4 percent of the land happens to be under it. Whereas more than 12 percent of the land is protected for animals in the state.
The party stated, it is not justifiable that the anti eviction drive should chop down the hard grown trees of the farmers which they grow and nourish like their children. Even if it is believed that the government is very serious of getting rid of the encroachments then there are various other alternatives that can be exercised. Fencing the area can be one of them. The government can lease out the land to the farmers on the same analogy as they have done for other corporate and business entrepreneurs. The same government was benevolent enough to change the land use and lease out DPF to JP cements and hydro power in the state. In the name of eco-tourism the government has leased out more than hundreds of hectares of land to private people.
The CPM finds the various campaigns of the government as utterly hypocratic where they ask the people plant fruit bearing trees in the forests. Apparently they forget that apple trees too bear fruits and not something else. Cutting of these trees is not just illogical but also against the environment and hence needs to be protected immediately.