For the first time in Punjab, the annual auction of panchayat land meant for Dalits was held on the premises of Dalit families. On Thursday, the auction took place in three Sangrur villages in the presence of members of the Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee (ZPSC), which has been at the forefront of the fight for rights of Dalits on panchayat land. Earlier, such auctions were organised at the panchayat office or village society’s office.
ZPSC has been fighting this year to get land prices reduced. So far, land has been allotted to Dalit families in about 15 villages, while the auction was postponed twice in five villages. Thurday’s auction took place in Batriana, Akbarpur and Narike villages.
“Today, Dalit families got their share of land in Batriana village at Rs 27,500 per acre, while in Narike village, land prices last year were Rs 30,000 per acre and as no bidder came forward, the bid finally closed at Rs 26,500 per acre,” said ZPSC president Mukesh Malaud.
Punjab has 1.45 lakh acre panchayat land meant for agriculture, out of which one-third is reserved for Dalits as per the norms. In Sangrur alone, over 700 acre of panchayat land is reserved for Dalits in over 80 villages. The office of the District Development Panchayat Officer (DDPO) revealed that this year the auction was being done at last year’s price for Dalits.