NEW DELHI: The NITI Aayog is seeking to engage the state governments to dilute the environmental norms so that the farmers do not need to seek clearances before cutting trees on and around agricultural lands.
The move comes on the backdrop of an assessment that the farmers are avoiding planting trees on their lands. The Aayog has called the senior officials of all the state governments to the national capital for a brainstorming session on issues concerning the agriculture sector. “It has been seen that the farmers are avoiding afforestation due to bureaucratic red-tapism on environmental norms.
This is affecting the productivity of farming, besides depriving farmers additional income in the form of selling wood,” said a senior official of the NITI Aayog. The think-tank panel is of the view that the farmers should be encouraged to plant more trees on and around agricultural land, which could become source of assured incomes at a time when there is a growing demand for the timber due to expansion of housing construction activities in the country.
The Aayog has called in the principal secretaries of revenue department, environment and fores, agriculture and rural development for a meeting on Friday, which will also be attended by officials from their counterparts in the Centre. “We hope to find solutions in the meeting, which is intended to help the enhancement of the farmers’ income,” added the official. Incidentally, the NITI Aayog has also noted that though Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have passed amendments to Agricultural Produces Marketing and Cooperative (APMC) Act, they have not yet notified the rules to allow the unveiling of a single farmers’ market at the national level.
“There is an urgenet need to expedite the reforms needed to unveil an integrated single farmers’ market for which the enabling changes in state laws are the pre-requisite,” said the official. The NITI Aayog is also looking at an opportunity to persuade the state governments to adopt the model land leasing law it had brought out earlier.
“The marginal farmers should be able to move out of farming if they find other remunerative employments, which could be possible by allowing leasing of land with the sense of security that the title would be secured. The state governments need to expedite their responses on the leasing of land,” added the official.