Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi assured weavers in Telangana that the Congress will abolish GST on handlooms and also assured the tribal farmers that the party will ensure land rights when it comes to power in the state.
The assurance was given after an interaction he had with weavers and tribal farmers at Goplapurkalan in Devarkadra, Mahabubnagar district, where the Bharat Jodo Yatra is presently passing through. During a one-hour-long interaction, he said, ‘You do not have to wait for too long. We will come to power soon and solve these problems.’
A weaver, Bhavna Rishi spoke about the support extended to handlooms during the Congress period and recalled how the yarn subsidy used to reach the weaver. “That system does not exist anymore. The APCO (Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Organisation) used to buy directly from weavers. That, too, does not happen anymore.” While acknowledging the distress of weavers, he said it was reprehensible that the BJP government had imposed GST on handlooms rather than providing support to the industry on which millions were living. ‘We will ensure GST is removed on handlooms as soon as we come back to power,’ he assured.
At their interaction, the tribal farmers spoke about the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, of 2006. They also informed him about the status of assigned land and the problems of the tribal farmers being restricted from their lands. Mr. Gandhi said that the Congress had provided rights to the tribals over forest lands and once the party comes to power in Telangana pattas would be provided.
Mr Sunil Kumar of NALSAR University of Law summed up the problem of FRA implementation. He informed Mr. Gandhi that three major issues afflict the tribal farmers of Telangana. One was over 3 lakh applications were pending for recognition of forest land and the second was the tussle between government departments, mainly forest and revenue departments, due to which one lakh tribal farmers were suffering. Lastly, the forest department was delaying the recognition of forest land which is affecting lakhs of farmers in the state.