Tez Singh, 67, is of Ardaspur village, district Aligarh, on the Aligarh-Mathura highway. "Eleven years ago, I gave 10 bighas of land, at Rs 15,000 per bigha, for three years to Laxmi Brick Industry.' He points towards the opposite side of the road. "Soil was to be dug up to four feet. This land, on which I am sitting; it was given back around eight years ago.' Today, the rate here is Rs 25,000 per bigha. "Now my younger brother has leased five bigha s of his land to the same brick kiln.'
What is the condition of his land? "The first year, we just filled up the field with water. From the second year onwards, we started putting fertilisers and water alternatively. This continued for two years. In the fourth year we grew barsim (cattle feed) and put it back into the field, to improve fertility. This continued for two more years. Barsim apart, we kept on putting quintals of fertilisers.' The result? "Still the yield is not more than half of what it used to be 12 years ago,' says Tez.
Then why did he give his land? "Out of need. I put a bore-well in my fields, for which I had taken a bank loan. Also, the marriage of my granddaughter was approaching. I was not able to pay the loan instalments, leave alone marriage arrangements. So I myself went to the kiln-owner. He happily took my land on rent; it was right in front of his kiln.' Apart from the loss due to non-production, Tez has spent nearly half the amount he had got from the kiln-owner on regeneration. But he has no regrets. "I am happy because I could get my granddaughter properly married off, and am thankful to the Laxmi bhatta ; it helped me in need.'
Tez is not the only farmer to be "happy'. Two years ago, Ram Swaroop gave eight bighas to a brick kiln on the outskirts of Bulandshahar at Rs 27,000 per bigha for three years. All he wanted was a pakka house. "I have nearly 40 bighas of land. Even then, I was not able to build a pakka house for the last ten years. Had I not given the land on rent, I am sure I would still not be able do the same in the next ten years.' Ram Swaroop used to make about Rs 3,500 per bigha; he would have made about Rs 10,500 on that bigha in three years. "Which is nothing compared to Rs 27,000. On top of that, I didn't have to do anything for this money,' he says enthusiastically.
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