Khair growing farmers exploited by Forest Deptt-Industrialists nexus: Harsh

Harsh Dev Singh, JKNPP chairman along with other party leaders addressing a press conference.
Harsh Dev Singh, JKNPP chairman along with other party leaders addressing a press conference.

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Jan 17: Alleging exploitation of Khair growing farmers by the forest mafia operative in the State, Harsh Dev Singh, JKNPP chairman and former Minister today appealed the Governor to come to their rescue so as to save them from starvation and misery.
“With the poor farmers being divested of their marginal produce of Khair by powerful industrial houses in league with corrupt officers of the Forest Department at throwaway prices, the very subsistence and livelihood of these farmers had been threatened,” Harsh Dev said while addressing a press conference here today along with Yash Paul Kundal, State president, Young Panthers. Click here to watch video
He said that around 35000 farmers of Jammu region were dependent upon Khair farming for their survival in view of nature of their lands which were not suitable for any other crop. Growing only in Kandi areas of Jammu region, the Khair-tree technically known as ‘Acacia catechu’ was the only source of subsistence for the farmers of the sub tropical belt of Jammu region, divulged Singh.
Harsh Dev Singh said that the State Government had granted permission to certain selected industrialists mostly outsiders only to operate ‘katha’ factories in the State who had monopolized the purchases of Khair-wood and were exploiting the poor farmers. Not only were the farmers underpaid but their payments were withheld for months and years by these powerful industrial houses leading to untold miseries for the poor cultivators, he said.
He said that 35000 farmers along with their families would be forced to come on the roads if the unholy Forest Department – Industrialist nexus responsible for their exploitation and impoverishment was not busted and farmers allowed getting remunerative pricing for their produce.
Yash Paul Kundal said that the Khair growing farmers were being exploited and ignored only because they all belonged to Jammu region as the production of Khair was restricted to the Kandi belt of Dogra land due to its peculiar land characteristics and weather conditions.