On Republic Day, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel waives irrigation tax
The move to waive off irrigation tax is expected to benefit around 15 lakh farmers in Chhattisgarh.
Having deposed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in Chhattisgarh after a long run of 15 years in the assembly elections held in November 2018, the Congress government has decided to waive off irrigation tax amounting to Rs 207 crore. The announcement that would benefit around 15 lakh farmers was made by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel during his Republic Day speech in Raipur on Saturday.
Baghel said the waiver would be applicable on irrigation tax imposed till October 2018. “I announce that ‘Sinchai Kar’ (irrigation tax) amounting to Rs 207 crore till October 2018 will be waived off. Around 15 lakh farmers will benefit from this,” Baghel was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Farm distress was among the top poll planks during election campaign in Chhattisgarh. The Congress had promised in all three Hindi heartland states which went to the polls – Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan having been other two – that if voted power it would waive off farm loans and take steps to help farmers and improve overall agricultural situation.
Earlier, the Baghel government had announced two major steps aimed at reducing distress in agriculture. First came the loan waiver. Soon after formation of the government, Baghel announced a loan waiver scheme worth Rs 140 billion.
The next big ticket decision came as a surprise when the Baghel government in December last year announced that it would return the “unused” land to the farmers. About 2,000 hectare of the land in question had been acquired by the BJP government in 2005 for a Tata Steel factory in Bastar district of the state.
Some of the farmers had then protested acquisition. Tata group pulled out of the project in 2016. The land was lying unused and the Baghel government, in a rare move, ordered the officials to return the land to the owner farmers.