The Punjab government has moved a proposal to take over the Kalkat Bhawan – building of Kisan Vikas Chamber – located on posh Airport Road in Mohali from Kisan Vikas Chamber Society.
The move come less than three years after the state government dedicated the building to the farmers and less than two years after the death of Dr GS Kalkat, an eminent agriculture expert who was instrumental in getting a the chamber for farmers.
The proposal to take over the building, on two acres of prime land, from the farmers and utilise it as a government office has been mooted by Financial Commissioner (Development).
The proposal was to be taken up in Monday’s Cabinet meeting but the Chief Minister’s Office has returned it to the FCD citing that it should be sent to the Finance Department and its financial status should be evaluated.
The government had dedicated the building, constructed in 2016, to farmers. The state had provided two acres of land and Punjab Mandi Board had spent Rs 30 crore on constructing the building. Dr Kalkat was instrumental in getting the building for the farmers chamber. The building was away from Punjab’s seat of power in Chandigarh, but with the coming up of an international airport near the location, the land prices in the area have spiralled.
The purpose of providing the Kisan Chamber a building was to bridge the gap between the policy makers and farmers. Dr Kalkat was the patron of the Kisan Vikas Chamber Society, which looks after the building. At that time, it was stated that while industry bodies have offices in Chandigarh, farmers did not have any place to sit and hold debates.
The Kisan Chamber has been taking up farmers’ issues with the Centre. President of Kisan Chamber, Kulwant Singh said they have taken up at least 50 farmers’ issues with the Centre and have got positive response in many of them.
A member of the society, on condition of anonymity said, “It is shocking that they want to take away the Kisan Vikas Chamber building. The bureaucracy can’t tolerate farmers sitting in a proper building and brainstorming. They want the farmers to toil in the open, covered in soil. Since Dr Kalkat is no more, they are going ahead with the proposal. If it is not coming up in Monday’s Cabinet meeting, it would come up again later. Someone has to stop it. We will take up the issue with the CM.”
A government functionary, said that the proposal was mooted so that the government gets land rights in its name to protect it from land sharks. “The farmers will be allowed to organise seminars and meetings in the office,” the functionary said.
The building was named Kalkat Bhawan after society brought in a resolution to dedicate it to Dr Kalkat following his death. The society pays for water, electricity and maintenance of the building.