It is shocking that 30,000 acres of fertile agricultural land has been put to use for developing Amaravati as capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Obviously, this implies that Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh thinks that developing a city is more important than cultivating rice or pulses. Converting agricultural land for building houses or constructing factories are being repeatedly carried out during the last several years all over the country. Mr. Narendra Modi who launched Amaravati as capital city of Andhra Pradesh appears to have ignored this obnoxious act.
While industrial growth should be complimentary to agricultural growth , there is absolutely no justification to think that the industrial activity or construction of a city should be pursued at the cost of agricultural operations. This is a counter productive approach. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has grievously erred and has done great disservice by using 30,000 acres of agricultural land to build a capital city. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh owes an explanation for this undesirable move.
Average growth of agriculture during the first four years of 12th Five Year Plan is likely to be only around 1.5% against the target of 4%. This inadequate growth is bound to have huge adverse impact on the economy of rural India and in the poverty alleviation programme.
More than 50% of Indian population is employed in the agricultural sector and their economic status is unsatisfactory. The government of India has argued in the recent past that so many people are not really needed to be employed in agricultural operations and considerable segment of the agricultural work force should be drawn to industrial and other activities to improve their social and economic conditions. There may be an element of logic in such view point.
However, the distinction must be made between weaning away agricultural workers to other areas of employment and taking away the agricultural land and putting it into use for non agricultural purposes.
It is high time that the government of India should recognise that the contribution of agricultural sector for India’s growth is as significant as industrial and services sector and perhaps, may be more significant. India has around 160 million hectare of arable land , which is second largest in the world after USA. Gross irrigated area in India is around 83 million hectare, which is the largest in the world. Agriculture operations has contributed around 75 billion US dollar net income to the national exchequer by way of exports in the last five years. India ranks fifth largest exporter of agricultural products after US, Brazil. China and Canada. Further, the import component in agricultural operations is insignificant compared to the Import component in the services and industrial sector.
All said and done , Indian economy is agriculture oriented and it will continue to remain so for all time to come. India should be proud of this ground reality. As a matter of fact, the agricultural sector represents the basic strength of Indian economy and highest importance have to be given for protecting the farming community as well as the agricultural economy at any cost.
The recent proposal of Modi government to introduce land acquisition act justifiably was met with huge opposition in the country and it is good that the Prime Minister has given up this proposal. The land acquisition bill certainly created an impression among the country men that the government would convert agricultural land for industrial use, which probably created a suspicion that Modi government would give more preference to industrial growth than agricultural growth. The spokesmen of Modi government or the ruling party were unable to convince the country men about the purpose of the land acquisition bill, since this bill was against the sentiments of the people.
Agriculture can do as good for India as industries and services sector. Certainly, there is no conflict of interest between agriculture and non agriculture sector. At the same time, taking away fertile agricultural land for constructing city, housing colony or factories is undesirable in principle and as economic growth strategy.
Today, there are thousands of acres of industrial land which are remaining unused. There are more than two million hectares of waste land, marshy and rocky land in the country, which cannot be used for agricultural operations but can certainly be put to use for non agricultural purposes. There is no indication that Modi government examined such possibilities while introducing the land acquisition bill.
Mr. Narendra Modi should listen to the voice of rural India and the saner voice in the country, which is of the firm view that agriculture needs strong government support to improve yield and productivity and there should be no attempt to cut the area of agricultural land in the country. Mr.Modi would do well to announce a policy decision that all agricultural land in India would remain intact and it will be used only for agricultural purposes.
Converting agricultural land to other activities is similar to cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Nandini Voice For The Deprived
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