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Farmers approach HC over ‘ban’ on paddy cultivation; Should farmers have the freedom to plant crops on their own?

Face social boycott, Rs 51,000 fine

Hisar :
Four farmers have approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for cultivation of paddy in their fields in Paintawas Kalan village of Charkhi Dadri district against a ban by a social panchayat in the village.

Deepak Sangwan, a resident of Paintawas, had filed a petition in the High Court on July 9, stating that they (farmers) should be given freedom to plant any crop in their fields. He said a khap panchayat had issued a diktat, banning paddy plantation in the village.

The High Court had, on July 11, issued a notice to the Haryana Government, asking the state counsel to submit a status report and obtain instructions as to why the petitioners should not be given the freedom to sow paddy. The court fixed the next hearing on July 19.

Sangwan said he owned 14 acres adjoining a canal in the village, but the khap panchayat had banned sowing of paddy, arguing that it led to waterlogging in the fields and residential areas.

He told The Tribune on Friday that he stopped sowing paddy for the past two years, but planted the crop this year. “Irked over the paddy plantation, the panchayat imposed a fine of Rs 51,000 and announced social boycott of my family,” he said, adding the land was fit for no other crop except for paddy and he had little choice.

However, another section of villagers, who opposed the paddy plantation, said that due to low-lying area, paddy plantation caused waterlogging in the village. “When it rains, water floods the residential areas as the fields, which are already inundated due to paddy plantation, could not hold rainwater,” another villager said.
Gulzari Lal, the sarpanch of adjoining Charkhi village, said waterlogging was a serious problem in the village. “We are facing water problem, but the low-laying area draws rainwater from far-off places. Moreover, the Indira canal and its subsidiary minors flowing through these villages have caused waterlogging,” he said. Lal said no farmer of his village had sown paddy for many years and it was a consensual decision.

Paintawas sarpanch Dhirpal said there was no ban in the village.
Similarly, Sombir Sangwan, president of Sangwan khap, too, denied having issued any diktat on behalf of the panchayat. He said it was a collective decision of the villagers to save their residential areas from flooding due to waterlogging caused due to excessive water in the paddy fields. He also denied imposing fine or socially boycotting any family.

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