Sunday, December 26, 2010

West Bengal 2006-2010: Touching New Milestones-(1)

An Overview of Achievements
The Seventh Left Front Government assumed office in May 2006. In the span of the last four and half years, the Government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has achieved unprecedented milestones through successful implementation of its alternative policies, which are progressive on one hand and protected the common people's interest on the other. Obstacles en route were many, agents of regression were increasingly plentiful and it was not therefore an easy task to steer the governance - inter alia striking a balance between agricultural growth and industrialization, upgrading the infrastructure for and quality of education, development of physical infrastructure, improving the physical quality of life for backward classes and minorities and ensuring social security for the economically weaker sections, thereby setting exemplary benchmarks in excellence. This is neither an attempt to analyze this success, nor to portray the success stories prior to 2006. It is a rather humble attempt to present a few relevant facts in a nutshell.

New Benchmark in Assignment of Ceiling Surplus Land

· Assignment of Ceiling Surplus land to landless farmers has continued unabated for the last 33 years in West Bengal through Distribution of Patta. This is acclaimed as the best job ever done in the country to protect the interest of the agrarian community.

· More than 1127000 acres of land has already been distributed free of cost among 30 Lakh farmers in West Bengal. About 37% of the benefactors belong to Scheduled Castes, 18% to Scheduled Tribes and another 18% come from Minorities.

· Women from peasant families share ownership of plots in West Bengal. More than 618000 Joint Pattas have so far been handed over. Female Patta Holders alone exceed 161000 in number.

· While only 3% of the total landed area of the country is comprised in West Bengal, as much as 22% of the total land distributed through land-reforms is from this State.

· Small and marginal farmers own 84% of the total cultivable land in our State, courtesy land reforms. The national average is just a shade above 34%.

· The State amended the Land Reforms Act in 1977 to thwart any attempt to evict bargadars. The legal rights of 1513000 registered Bargadars have thus been firmly secured. About 1115000 Acres are recorded as Barga in the State.

· Patta for 16700 acres of land have already been distributed in the tenure of the Seventh Left Front Government- between the years 2006-2010. Another 6000 Acres are expected to be distributed during the remaining period of 2010-11. One wonders whether the volume of this land-distribution, accomplished within just 4 1/2 years of the term of the Seventh Left Front Government can match any similar effort undertaken in 20 years elsewhere in India.

· As a first-ever endeavour in the country, the Seventh Left Front Government has launched a unique 'Project for Bestowal of Agricultural and Homestead Land' in order to consolidate further the benefits of land reforms. Plots of land measuring 5(five) Cottah each, are being offered free of cost under the programme, to Land Labourers, Rural Artisans and Fishermen. The earnestness of the State Government about procuring land for implementation of the project is such that it has been buying plots from willing sellers offering a premium of 25% above the current market-rate. Nearly 2 lakh families are expected to be benefited from this project.

· About 27 thousand tribal families in the State have already received Patta in terms of the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It has been observed that tribals have on the whole, benefited more through land-reforms in relative proportion to the total population of the State.

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