The punjab rural development and panchayat minister Sikander Singh Maluka agreed to lower the auction rates of panchayati agriculture land reserved for the scheduled castes (SC) in Balad Kalan village of the district according to the dalits who met with the minister on Saturday.
According to the members of Zameen Papati Sangrash Samiti (ZPSS), the minister called the meeting after repeated protests by the ZPSS.
ZPSS member Bhupinder Singh Longowal said, "We were called by the minister in Rampura Phul to discuss the issue, and the minister has assured us to reduce the rate of the Panchayati land to `20,000 per acre from last year's `26,400".
He said that the minister also spoke to the Sangrur district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) about the auction slated for Friday. "We will now meet the DDPO on the coming Monday," he added.
However, Sangrur DDPO Manjit Singh said that there was no discussion about the rates for this although he enquired about last year's rates.
"Yes, I got a telephone call from the minister and he asked me to discuss the issue with the dalits. But, he did not talk about the rates for the auction," he said.
Out of total 350 acres of Panchayati land in Balad Kalan village, 117 acres have been reserved for the scheduled castes.
Besides Balad Kalan, the ZPSS was also demanded that the land reserved for the SCs in Matoi, Namool and Baupur villages should also be given to dalit farmers at cheaper rates.