Economy
Large-scale diversion of agricultural land is the biggest threat to food security

It is ironic that the government has enacted an ordinance for food security and at the same time it is ignoring large scale diversification of agricultural land says the former secretary, EAS Sarma

EAS Sarma, former Secretary of the Government of India has raised his voice against large-scale diversion of agricultural land in different parts of the country. He suggested that necessary steps be taken on this serious issue without any delay as it can adversely affect food security.

 

Mr Sarma, in his letter to secretary of the ministry of agriculture suggested that, “The Planning Commission should have necessary vision to anticipate this worsening situation and under the business rules, the ministry of agriculture should take up this matter concerning land-use changes, evolve a national land-use policy and get it approved at the highest level. Every day’s delay will weaken India's agrarian economy that much.”
 

The Bill aims to provide subsidized rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67% of the population. However, the consumption pattern across the country is different. In fact, some states like Rajasthan do not sell wheat in its PDS shops. In Jharkhand, the quantity of rice consumed by a rural BPL household is 3.6 times its consumption of wheat. By contrast, in Rajasthan foodgrain consumption under PDS almost entirely comprises of rice. (Read Food Security Bill: Who will plug the loopholes in PDS?)

 

However, according to Mr Sarma, “The food security of the country will be threatened as it adversely affects environment. It will also create food inflation, expensive food imports, turning small farmers into workers and urbanization of farmers for their livelihood, which can increase poverty, while many cultivators are forced to give up farming either due to uncertainties in water availability, increasing cost of inputs, or acquisition of lands for industry, including thermal power projects,” the former secretary said.

 

EAS Sarma emphasized the need of the ministry of agriculture to put in place a land-use policy to conserve agricultural land and factor the same into the ministry of environment and forest’s (MOEF) Environment Appraisal process for clearing projects. “A taluk-wise minimum threshold for agricultural land needs to be worked out,” he said.

Mr Sharma explained, “The ministry of agriculture should take note of this disturbing trend and go to the rescue of the dwindling agricultural lands in the country, Diversion of agricultural land will have the following adverse implication:

  1.  The food security of the country will be threatened, pushing India into expensive food imports. It will have national security implications. In fact, if the above trend continues, the cost of Public Distribution System (PDS) will progressively increase and finally weaken the food security supply chain.
  2. In the long-run, this will push up the price of food items, creating an enormous scope for inflationary pressures to build up.
  3. It will adversely affect the nutrition levels for the poor who are already undernourished, affect their productivity and income levels, worsening the poverty situation in the country.
  4. As the Tamil Nadu report has shown, the benefits of increased food prices will be cornered by absentee landlords at the expense of the tillers of the soil.
  5. The latest land acquisition law is aimed at transferring agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes. It is therefore regressive and counter productive, devoid of any foresight.”

Mr Sharma, in his letter to the secretary of the ministry of agriculture shared the report on Tamil Nadu which explained how large scale agricultural land diversion adversely affected people of Tamil Nadu region the facts and figures shows…

 

Tamil Nadu

 

The average size of landholdings in Tamil Nadu declined from 0.83 hectares in 2005-06 to 0.80 hectares in 2010-11. The number of cultivators declined by 8.7 lakh while the number of farm workers increased by 9.7 lakh between years of 2001and 2011.

 

“What happened largely in the Tamil Nadu’s fertile region Cauvery delta is a threat to food security of the region. It is unfortunate that due to unprofitable farming many cultivators are forced to give up farming and consequently sell their lands as an effect they are migrate to urban areas to become daily wage labors slum dwellers and some small farmers are selling their piece of land and becomes agricultural workers,” added by Mr Sarma.

 

Andhra Pradesh

 

He also enclosed another disturbing report on diversion of agricultural land around Hyderabad and the manner in which the prices of vegetables have doubled. The report gives facts to explain the reasons.

 

The report shows it happened due to many factors including change in crops as farmers are taking to cotton farming, but one of the main reason is less agricultural production due to diversion of agricultural land, the fast developing IT sector creates real estate boom in recent years around Hyderabad region as an effect, it leads to large scale diversion of agricultural land.

 

In the name of development lands were given to Special Economic Zones (SEZ). Cities also widened their boundaries many folds as many new residential and industrial developments took place in fertile agricultural land A total of 20lakh acres of agricultural land was lost due to diversion in past 10 years as Andhra Pradesh does not have a law in place against the sale of agricultural lands while, states such as UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat have.

 

“These reports relevant to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh must be valid for several other states. What these two reports describe represents only the tip of the iceberg of an agrarian economy that is facing a serious threat” said EAS Sarma.

 

While ignoring large-scale diversion of agricultural land and falling agricultural production, on the other hand president Pranab Mukherjee signed the ordinance on Friday on Food Security to give the nation’s two-third population the right to get 5 kg of food grain every month at highly subsidised rates of Re1-Rs3 per kg. The Food Security programme will be the biggest in the world with the government spending an estimated Rs125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67% of the population. (Read President signs food security ordinance)

 

“What happened in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is representative of the larger picture of displacement of agricultural communities all over the country. If the government fails to contain this trend by regulating undesirable changes in the pattern of land-use at the regional and sub-regional levels, we will soon confront a situation of moving away from self-sufficiency in agriculture towards dependence on food imports,” added by the former secretary.

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COMMENTS

ashwin bahl

3 years ago

The almighty rulers will never admit that this is REAL problem right now bcos profit and loot is the only mantra right now !

nagesh kini

3 years ago

Our GOI Minister for Agriculture is turning precious food growing land for sugar cane for liquor and ethanol and grapes for . his former Min. for Civil Aviation wanted to serve wine on domestic flights a la Marie Anntionette said if there is no bread eat cake!

nagesh kini

3 years ago

Our GOI Minister for Agriculture is turning precious food growing land for sugar cane for liquor and ethanol and grapes for . his former Min. for Civil Aviation wanted to serve wine on domestic flights a la Marie Anntionette said if there is no bread eat cake!

Rajamanickkam

3 years ago

The Government must allow the agriculturists to sell their products wherever they like. The Essential commodities like rice etc cannot be sold outside the state. The sugarcane has to be sold only to mill selected by the Govt. When you sell a scooter or car any where in India, or export it, the ryots are not given the renumerative price. Now they at least selling their capital investment ie land. If the State Government bring law to dis allow that the only course open to them to commit sucide. Let the God save them from the politicians and Burecurats of India.

Sensex, Nifty move higher on low volumes: Thursday Closing Report

The Nifty has to sustain itself above 5,900 for the upward momentum to continue
 

Assurances from the US Fed that it will continue with its stimulus programme boosted markets across the globe, with India also joining the rally. The Nifty has to sustain itself above 5,900 for the upward momentum to continue. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) reported a lower volume of 48.25 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 864:487.

 

The market witnessed  a gap up opening on comments from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that monetary policy would remain accommodative for the foreseeable future, even if the US unemployment rate hits the Fed's target of 6.5%. The comments also saw the Asian pack in the positive in morning trade today.

 

The Nifty opened 78 point higher at 5,895 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,468, a jump of 174 points over its previous close. While the opening figure of the Sensex was also its intraday low, the Nifty’s low was at 5,888.

 

The optimism from the US saw all sectoral indices higher in morning trade led by banking, realty, metal, PSU and oil & gas. The gains helped the benchmarks hit their highs in noon trade. The Nifty rose to 5,949 and the Sensex surged to 19,724 at their respective highs.

 

The market continued remain firm in the second half of the trading session on support from the European markets which opened higher on assurance from the Fed. The benchmarks were range-bound in the positive till the end of the session.

 

The Nifty closed with a gain of 118 points (2.04%) to 5.935 and the Sensex ended the session at 19,677, a jump of 382 points (1.98%).

 

Although the broader indices also settled in the green, they lagged the Sensex today. The BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.675 and the BSE Small-cap index advanced 0.66%.

 

With the exception of BSE Consumer Durables (down 0.64%), all other sectoral indices settled in the green. The top gainers were BSE Metal (up 3%); BSE Bankex (up 2.48%); BSE Realty (up 2.44%); BSE Capital Goods (up 1.84%); BSE Oil & Gas (up 1.80%) and BSE PSU (up 1.77%).

 

Out of the 30 stocks on the Sensex, 27 stocks settled higher. The main gainers were Sterlite Industries (up 4.78%); Hindalco Industries (up 4.74%); HDFC Bank (up 3.32%); Bharti Airtel (up 3.31%) and TCS (up 3.10%). The losers were Maruti Suzuki (down 2.43%); Wipro (down 0.45%) and Cipla (down 0.11%).

 

The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Indiabulls Real Estate (up 12.17%) and Sesa Goa (up 5.89%).

The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Gitanjali Gems (down 5%) and MMTC (down 4.97%).

 

The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Minaxi Textiles (up 19.74%) and Gennex Laboratories (up 19.74%).

The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Microsec Financial Services (down 17.24%); and Riga Sugar Company (down 16.92%).

 

Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 46 ended in the in the green. The major gainers were Sesa Goa (up 6.25%); Hindalco Ind (up 4.43%); Bharti Airtel (up 3.43%); Kotak Mahindra Bank (up 3.26%) and IndusInd Bank (up 3.24%). The losers were Larsen & Toubro (down 31.73%); Maruti Suzuki (down 2.84); Ranbaxy (down 1.10%) and Tata Motors (down 0.30%).

 

Markets in Asia closed in the positive following assurances from US Fed chief Ben Bernanke that the central bank will continue with its stimulus programme  and indications that Chinese policymakers will adopt an accommodative monetary policy to spur growth. The Japanese market underperformed the Asian pack as analysts believed that the Bank of Japan may hold additional steps on signs of positive growth.

 

The Shanghai Composite jumped 3.23%; the Hang Seng surged 2.5%; the Jakarta Composite climbed 2.80%; the KLSE Composite advanced 0.70%; the Nikkei 225 gained 0.39%; the Straits Times surged 1.91%; the Seoul Composite climbed 2.93% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 2.10% higher.

 

At the time of writing, the key European indices were trading higher and the US stock futures were trading with good gains.

 

Back home, institutional investors—foreign as well as domestic—were net buyers in the equities segment on Wednesday. While FIIs bought shares totalling Rs75.46 crore, DIIs invested Rs28.77 crore.

 

Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications (RCom) today said it has completed securitisation of proceeds from its Rs1,200 crore ($200 million) deal with Reliance Jio. The amount from securitisation has been utilised to repay rupee debt, saving significant interest costs for the company. RCom gained 1.07% to close at Rs141.80 on the NSE.

 

GVK Power has asked the government to consider its request for tapering linkages to meet the coal requirement of its 540 MW thermal power plant in Punjab, saying that if allocation is done the company will then be in a position to begin electricity generation from next month. The stock fell 0.68% to close at Rs7.25 on the NSE.

 

BGR Energy Systems has bagged the balance of plant (BoP) contract valued at Rs1,573 crore from Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) for its expansion project wherein the state owned generator would add two 660 Mw units to its existing power station. The stock gained 3.95% to Rs125.10 on the NSE.

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Cabinet clears proposal to replace DGCA with Civil Aviation Authority

The CAA would replace the DGCA and administer and regulate civil aviation safety, manage safety oversight over air transport operators, air service navigation operators and operators of other civil aviation facilities

A bill to replace the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) by a new aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with full operational and financial autonomy is likely to be tabled in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.

 

The Union Cabinet, at its meeting today, accorded in-principle approval to the proposal of the Civil Aviation Ministry, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said after the meeting.

 

The bill to establish the CAA is likely to be brought in the Monsoon Session, he said.

 

The CAA would replace the DGCA and administer and regulate civil aviation safety, manage safety oversight over air transport operators, air service navigation operators and operators of other civil aviation facilities.

 

Interestingly, the proposed CAA, like the DGCA, would also deal with matters relating to financial stress on safety of air operations, as witnessed in connection with the closure of the bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines last year.

 

Issues relating to consumer protection and environment regulations in civil aviation sector would also be addressed by the CAA, according to the draft legislation.

 

The proposed authority would have a chairperson, a director General and seven to nine members, including five whole-time members. All of them would be appointed by the Centre on the recommendation of a selection committee headed by the Cabinet secretary.

 

The CAA is being established by the government to meet the standards set by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and in line with aviation regulators in other countries like the US Federal Aviation Administration and UK’s CAA, official sources had said earlier.

 

The estimated cost of establishing the new Authority would be over Rs110 crore, they said.

 

Noting that DGCA has limited delegation of financial powers and hence was “incapable of making adequate structural changes” to meet the demands of a dynamic civil aviation sector, the sources said this had necessitated its replacement with CAA.

 

The CAA would have more administrative and financial powers to deal with the fast-changing aviation scenario.

 

While passenger and freight traffic as also aircraft movement has grown manifold in the past six years, the sources said the strength of DGCA, which regulates all these activities, has gone up only in “a miniscule manner” primarily due to the cumbersome recruitment process under the UPSC.

 

With full functional and financial autonomy, the proposed CAA would be able to recruit its own staff, decide on their pay structure and the powers to fix and collect fees for rendering services like safety oversight and surveillance of air navigation services, they said.

 

As it would be self-financing, the CAA would establish a separate fund, called the Civil Aviation Authority of India Fund, which would be used for all expenses of the authority.

In addition, this fund would also get budgetary support, the sources said.

 

Keywords: Civil Aviation Authority, aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, DGCA, Civil Aviation Ministry, Manish Tewari, aviation sector, Kingfisher Airlines

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