Telangana Govt to face challenges in the implementation of Rythu Bharosa for tenant farmers 

Challenges came up as previous BRS Govt did not recognise tenant farmers as cultivators

Published - December 29, 2023 02:26 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The Congress Government in Telangana which has promised to give recognition to tenant farmers under Rythu Bharosa, one of the six guarantees of the party, is now faced with challenges in the implementation of the promise as it has to take up the identification of tenant farmers of lands.

The Government, according to experts in land laws, has three options before it – implementation of the Andhra Pradesh Land Licensed Cultivators Act enacted by the then Congress Government in 2012, enact a new law giving rights to tenants or explore new options for providing the assured support to tenants.

The development assumes significance as the previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) Government headed by former Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao refused to recognise tenants as cultivators and extended the benefits of Rythu Bandhu and other schemes to land owners. According to Nalsar University professor and land laws expert M. Sunil Kumar, 14 per cent of the land, around 25 lakh acres, in the State is in the hands of tenants.

Officials figures released over a decade ago indicate that there are around eight lakh tenant farmers in Telangana. But, Mr. Sunil Kumar says the number could be over 10 lakh. These include farmers who own some extent of land and take some more lands on tenancy and those without land solely depending on tenancy.

The Congress Government in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh designated tenant farmers as licensed cultivators and enacted the Act to provide loans and other benefits to them by issuing a loan eligibility card. Cards were issued to farmers who raise crops with implied permission of the owner or pattadar of the land but have no record of such enjoyment without affecting the rights of owners. These cards enabled them to access credit from financial institutions and to claim benefits like input subsidy, crop insurance, compensation for damages suffered by crops and others.

The Act mandated that the tenant and owner sign an agreement on the extent of land given to tenants in a prescribed format and approval of this form by the respective gram sabha would enable tenant farmers to get Loan Eligibility Card (LEC).

The neighbouring Andhra Pradesh Government continued implementation of the Act till 2019. The Government headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who took over the reins in 2019 enacted a new law Crop Cultivation Act based on the suggestions of the NITI Aayog giving tenants their due. In Telangana, however, tenant farmers could not secure any benefits as the Government refused to recognise them as cultivators.

Recognising tenant farmers would not impose additional financial burden on farmers as the extent of land for investment support under schemes like Rythu Bandhu (Rythu Bharosa in the new regime) remains the same. “But the main challenge on what basis the tenant farmers will be identified remains a challenge,” says Mr. Sunil Kumar.

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