Calcutta, Jan. 13: With an eye on the coming panchayat elections, the government today decided to waive cess arrears for over 14 years (between 1978 and 92) on agricultural land belonging to farmers across the state.
Out of 73 lakh land holders, nearly 69 lakh farmers will be benefited. Observers view the move as a calculated attempt to rope in a large chunk of the rural vote bank.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting this afternoon at Writers’ Buildings. It was attended by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, finance minister Asim Dasgupta, agriculture minister Kamal Guha and land reforms minister Abdul Rezzak Mollah.
Bhattacharjee reportedly convened the meeting following Guha’s persistent demand for a temporary waiver.
“We have virtually accepted Guha’s demand by waiving cess arrears of poor farmers,” Mollah said.
The land reforms minister said a farmer with four acres of irrigated land and six acres of non-irrigated will have to pay 41 paise annually as cess per acre, while those with plots above six acres will have to give 86 paise.
However, the levy will remain Rs 20 per year, he added.