Haryana mulls waiving farmers’ ₹125 cr pending canal water charges - Hindustan Times
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Haryana mulls waiving farmers’ 125 cr pending canal water charges

By, Chandigarh
Feb 22, 2024 09:54 AM IST

In his budget estimates for the next financial year to be presented in the assembly, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar is likely to formally announce waiving the outstanding pending canal water charges

The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana is likely to waive farmers’ outstanding canal water irrigation charges, called “abiana”, to the tune of 125 crore, it is learnt.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar (HT File)
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar (HT File)

In his budget estimates for the next financial year to be presented on Friday, chief minister (CM) Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, is likely to formally announce waiving the outstanding abiana as well as stopping the practice of levying charges for canal water supplied for irrigation.

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Sources say the finance department has given nod to the proposal mooted by the irrigation and water resources department.

“There is no history of waiving-off the outstanding abiana in Haryana. Despite this, the government has in principle decided to waive the outstanding charges. Hence, this is a significant decision that will benefit lakhs of farmers,” officials of finance and irrigation and water resources department said, refusing to be identified.

The government has calculated 125 crore outstanding abiana from 2012-13 financial year to March 2023. It was due from the cultivators of nearly 4,000 villages.

As per official data, authorities between 2012-13 to 2022-23 assessed around 22-24 lakh hectare area during the Rabi and Kharif season for levying abiana. The outstanding amount rose from 72 crore in 2012-13 to 125 crore in 2022-23.

Between 2018-19 fiscal and 2022-23, the state government recovered around 222 crore abiana from farmers, while another 166 crore was recovered during the six-year period between 2012-13 to 2017-18.

However, every year there has been a shortfall of over 10 crore in the recovery. Officials say there was no provision of surcharge for non-payment of abiana.

Districts that lead with outstanding are Kaithal, Sirsa, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Jhajjar, Hisar and Nuh, with around 2,000 villages being from these districts alone.

Sources in the finance department say almost every year since 2001, the annual audit reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pointed out the shortfall in recovery of water charges and that no action is taken to recover the balance as arrears.

In May 2002, the state government had decided to collect abiana through drawing and disbursing officers (DDOs) of the irrigation department instead of the revenue department. However, officials said the then government reverted to the original prescribed procedure in January 2006 over irrigation department DDOs’ failure to collect the revenue.

The department collected only 24 crore against the due abiana of 193 crore during 2002-06. Thus, revenue of 169 crore remained unrecovered (December 2006), said officials quoting the CAG reports.

For the purpose of revenue administration, the state has been divided into six divisions and 22 districts under the charge of a divisional commissioner and deputy commissioner (DC) or collector respectively.

The DC exercises control through tehsildars, naib tehsildars and other staff in his district. And the recovery of canal irrigation water charges from farmers is made through the village lambardars (headman), who are paid lambardari fee.

Amid chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, resolution passed lauding Ayodhya temple construction

The Haryana assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution applauding the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya and the January 22 pran pratishtha ceremony amid chants of “Jai Shri Ram”.

Chief minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar moved the official resolution to convey gratitude for the consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol, which found support from BJP’s coalition partner Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and especially the principal opposition party, the Congress, with its legislators awaiting turns to speak on the resolution.

While moving the official resolution, Khattar said he conveyed gratitude to those who played a major role through their thoughts, words and actions in the construction of the Ram Temple on behalf of people of Haryana.

The resolution expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took the “courageous step” of establishing the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. “It is our great fortune to witness this… We owe this to the penance and sacrifices of millions of our ancestors. This House pays homage to all our ancestors and expresses profound gratitude towards them,” Khattar said, while touching upon the struggle linked to the construction of the Ram temple and said the spirit of Lord Ram prevails in every corner of the country.

The BJP members also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the successful consecration ceremony at the new Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Home minister Anil Vij, meanwhile, said, “We are fortunate that in our lifetime Lord Ram temple has been constructed. Many agitations were held in the past...and during one such agitation, I was arrested in Lucknow and jailed for 15 days.”

Backing the resolution, former CM and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda said Lord Rama belongs to everyone. He asked the government to not lend a political colour to the resolution.

Congress members Raghuvir Singh Kadian, Neeraj Sharma, BB Batra, Kiran Choudhary and Chiranjeevi Rao also shared their views; their reverence to Shri Ram and supported the resolution.

“We support the resolution. ‘Ram hamare kan kan mein hai, aur woh sari jagah virajmaan hai’,” Congress’ Kiran Choudhary said.

JJP legislator Ram Kumar Guatam asked the Opposition to thank the PM for the temple becoming a reality. “We are devotees of Ram,” he said, adding that there were certain sections who did not want the Supreme Court to even pronounce the judgement on the issue.

People have started accepting PPP scheme: CM during Question Hour

Highlighting the importance of Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP), chief minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar said citizens can update or correct their PPP related details within 30 days. Of the 84 lakh complaints received regarding the PPP data, he said, about 80 lakh have been resolved and the remaining will be resolved soon.

Responding to a query during the assembly session’s Question Hour, the CM said self-declared data was entered by the citizens for PPP, after which changes were made as per requirement.

Khattar said complaints pertained to changes and updates like name, address, date of birth, bank account, occupation, income etc. Khattar said maximum changes have been made in the income category, adding that 48,851 people’s income was recorded lower than their actual pay and the error was rectified.

Khattar said people have now started accepting PPP after initial reservations.

Bhukkal corners minister

Higher education minister Mool Chand Sharma said the government has released a non-recurring 15 crore grant for the State Institute Of Advanced Studies In Teacher Education (SIASTE) in Jhajjar.

Responding to a question of Congress MLA Geeta Bhukkal, Sharma said that every necessary step was being taken to ensure smooth functioning of the institution.

Bhukkal, meanwhile, said the state government was not doing enough as the national-level institution lacked infrastructure and other basic facilities. It was noteworthy that the SIASTE, Jhajjar, is conducting a four-year integrated BA-BEd/BSc-BEd programme. The institute has been granted recognition by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).

As Bhukkal was not satisfied with the minister’s answer, CM Khattar assured her that the state government will ensure the institution functions smoothly. He said earlier there was a demand to shift the institute to Gurugram, but the government has decided against it. He said a separate institute will be established in Gurugram.

Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala assured the House that the government will investigate if there has been any irregularity in the registration of properties or illegal transactions in the state and take action against those found guilty. He said thousands of colonies have been legalised in the state and property IDs have been created for them. Registries are done after getting no dues certificate. The revenue department records are being rectified so that there is no problem in the registration process.

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