LAHORE  – Farm bodies, while opposing proposal to increase Abiyana cess, demanded for the facility of its payment through banks, saying it would boost revenue recovery and facilitate farmers.

Chairman Agriforum Pakistan Ibrahim Mughal, President Muthida Kissan Mahaz Ayub Mayo, representatives of kissan Board Pakistan and other organizations of farmers while talking to APP here Wednesday said the proposal of planning commission to increase Abiyana for rationalizing purpose would not bring the desired results.

They maintained that corrupt patwaris and other collectors would pitch in to exploit farmers as well as the government. They expressed their apprehensions that higher Abiyana rate would result in more malpractice and corruption which would in turn hit hard pressed farmers striving to make both ends meet.

They said that collection of Abiyana through Numberdars and Patwaris was started by British rulers as they were no banks near villages at that time but continuing it in the 21st century in the era of Internet and phone banking system is not a wise step. Ibrahim Mughal regretted that farmers have to pay “300 percent more” than the actual dues of Abiyana cess—largley due to tactics used by patwaris. “They (patwaris) deposit only about 30% of the actual abiyana. Blame goes to the farmers while patwaris and their masters in bureaucracy enjoy the situation,” he alleged.

Agri Forum Chairman said cost of recovery of Abiyana is higher than its total recovery in Punjab and other provinces.  He quoted example of Indian Punjab and said the Indian government has removed the Abiyana collection for the basic reason that it had to pay more as ‘collection charges’ against the money it got.

Farmers in the country, especially in Punjab, are facing hard situation, he said adding, “They have to pay Rs 135 per acre per year for two crops season but the water they are getting is 40% less against their due share—because of the scarcity”.

He suggested that if the government wants to break the net of corrupt mafia it should allow farmers to deposit abiyana dues in nearest branches of Bank of Punjab, National Bank and

Zari Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL). This would result in win win situation

for the farmers and the government both, he said.

Mutahidda Kissan Mahaz president said a simple,

transparent, short and most modern method should be adopted to

recover the Abiyana and any undue burden on the farmers should be avoided.

He said the Planning Commission of Pakistan should revisit the proposal to increase Abiyana rates for recovering operational and maintenance (O&M). “Rather than this it should prepare proposals to increase water avaiability for the farmers”.

He said Punjab Irrigation and Development Authrotiy (PIDA) was formed by Punjab government but it could not achieve its objective of facilitating the farmers.  Representatives of kissan board Pakistan and other farmers organizations also opposed the proposal to increase Abiyana and said “leakages” in its recovery should be plugged to boost revenue and weed out corruption.