The Bold Voice of J&K

SECOND THOUGHT REQUIRED

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Where on one hand, the Government has initiated a number of significant welfare schemes and projects, aimed for enhancing the socio-economic status of people, especially women, farmers, unemployed and downtrodden, besides ensuring provision of all basic amenities of life at their doorsteps, on the other hand, a recent decision of the union territory administration has sent a wave of shock and resentment among farming fraternity. As per reports, J&K Finance Department has asked the Irrigation and Flood Control (I & FC) Department to collect ‘Abiyana’- an irrigation tax from farmers across J&K, pending from the last more than 7 years. It is worth mentioning here that this so-called irrigation tax was abolished by the PDP-BJP Government, led by Late Mohammed Mufti Sayeed in 2015, when while present the budget of the erstwhile state of J&K, the then Minister for Finance Haseeb A Drabu, made announcement regarding the same in Assembly. At that time, this decision was welcomed and appreciated by people, especially farmers as it was going to provide them a major relief. Accordingly, the I&FC Department stopped collection of the same and it became a thing of history. But during a recent meeting of the Finance Department, the I&FC Department was issued directions to start the collection process of ‘Abiyana’, including pending arrears, as it has not been collected for the last seven years. Clarifying its statement, the department said that although the then Finance Minister made a statement regarding abolition of collecting ‘Abiyana’ in Assembly, but no formal order was passed by the then Government in this regard, due to which it still exists and should be collected from the farmers. This decision definitely needs a rethinking as it would be quite hard for the farmers to pay the pending amount of ‘Abiyana’ due from 7 years in one go, as there are several peasants who are not well-off and living from hand to mouth. Moreover, if the then Government, even after the formal announcement of the then Finance Minister regarding abolition of this practice, failed to issue a formal order, then it is the fault of concerned officials of that time and poor farmers should not be made to suffer, without any fault of them. Still, if the Government wants to restart the practice, then some relaxations must be provided to farmers, as it would be hard for them to pay ‘Abiyana’ of the last 7 years together.

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