State to return farmland acquired for collective initiative in ’50s

The Maharashtra government has decided to return to farmers agriculture land it has been holding for decades.

The large tracts in the fertile and water-rich Western Maharashtra were surrendered by hundreds of sugarcane-growers for a collective farming initiative in the early 1950s. Several thousands of acres in Ahmednagar, Pune, Kolhapur, Satara were acquired for large benefit at the height of the Socialist Movement.

Maharashtra Krishi Samiti was formed to till the land to produce sugarcane to be used in government factories. However, the scheme never took off and the land remained locked with the government.

"We have decided to return the agriculture land to kin of original owners. It can be a source of income for families who could not till their own land," said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Kaushabai Barbade, a farmer at Undirgaon in Ahmednagar district, became the first beneficiary. She was handed over a copy of reversed land records by CM.

The government also returned land to 10 farmers in Ahmednagar and Pune districts on Monday. "There was no problem in titles of these land-holders and therefore, the land was handed over to them as a token measure," said an official.

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