ROQUE DIAS | NT
MARGAO: Revival of the khazan lands, which is a Goan identity and an ecological marvel, is possible only with a khazan land policy, feel farmers in Salcete taluka. Nearly 40 per cent of the total 17,500 hectares of khazan lands in Goa is reportedly barren due to various reasons.
The department of agriculture has made attempts to revive these lands by announcing Rs 60 per square metre as a one-time grant to the farmers. Though the scheme has been welcomed by many farmers, they, however, are of the opinion that a khazan land policy or a khazan land board is necessary for planned progress of such lands and to overcome the difficulties faced by the farmers.
Several khazan land farmers associated with 18 different associations across the taluka, felt that the government needs to pay more attention to the construction of bunds that breach often causing damages to them. They also highlighted the issue of mangroves coming in the way of paddy cultivation and favoured mechanization to overcome the crisis of farm labour. According to sources, the state has around 426 kilometres of notified bunds.
“The government should have data of these khazan lands. There has to be a khazan land policy. Nearly 175 farmers associated with my association are cultivating such land. Few of them also undertake pisciculture. We require a good khazan land policy, a policy that is prepared after taking the khazan land farmers’ associations into confidence,” said president of the Vorle Vordh Tenants Association, Ilha De Rachol, Joseph Vaz.
Sources in the Salcete mamlatdar office said that they do not have the details of the 18 associations of khazan land farmers including the total area and the number of farmers having holdings despite the fact that the lands are being monitored by the office of the mamlatdar.
“The departments of agriculture, fisheries and water resources could work in tandem and devise an integrated plan to practise paddy cultivation and aquaculture. This has to be there in the khazan land policy. What we normally see in the agriculture department is that a big gap exists between the announcement of a scheme and its implementation,” said a farmer.
It may be noted that draft of the Khazan Land Development Board Act, 2012, was prepared by the water resource department (WRD) in 2012 with an initiative of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. It was, however, opposed by the then opposition legislator and present Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai, who had pointed out that it had a provision to acquire the farmers’ lands. Hence, the said draft was kept in abeyance.
However, when chief engineer of WRD Sandeep Nadkarni was contacted, he said that the khazan land development board was given wide powers, which could have largely benefitted the farmers if it was implemented in the right earnest.