Tenant farmers ask Telangana govt to revive Licenced Cultivators Act

Tenant cultivators in Telangana have requested the state government to revive and implement the Licensed Cultivators Act, 2011 and provide them access to institutional credit. 

 Passed in  undivided Andhra Pradesh during Congress rule, the law made it easier for farmers to issue identification cards (loan eligibility cards), enabling them  to get loans from banks. The card ensured that card holders could not take ownership of the land, which eased the fears of landowners. However, the issuing of cards was stopped after a few years. Attending a public hearing on Tuesday, they said  they were  forced to take loans from private lenders. “Also, we don’t get financial support from the government through schemes like Rythu Bandhu”. 

  “Thousands of crores  are being handed over to uncultivated land owners through Rythu Bandhu, while the farmers who are actually cultivating are getting nothing,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, convenor of the Sustainable and Integrated Agriculture Association (ASHA).  

 The public debate was organized by  Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), an umbrella organization of farmers, scientists and NGOs, before a public jury consisting of  experts from various fields. 

 The judges included Yogendra Yadav, President of Swaraj India, T Gopal Rao, former revenue minister of Andhra Pradesh; and K Sajaya, a social activist.  “Though the Telangana government calls itself  a friendly government,  farmers who constitute 36 percent of the farmers in the state do not get the benefit of Rythu Bandhu scheme or loan waiver. They  also do not get compensation for accidents,” said the bench. Leaders of various  parties like RS Praveen Kumar (BSP State President),  Narasimha Rao (CPM), Pasya Padma (CPI) and Kodandram (Telangana Janata Samiti) also participated. RSV  asked all  parties to support the demand for the inclusion of  farmers in all  government support schemes and the implementation of the 2011 Act.

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