In this episode of Active Bengaluru, city based researcher Bhargavi S. Rao who works at the intersections of community action with law, policy, planning and governance speaks to RJ Vijaya on the proposed changes to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act.
What is the Karntaka Land Reforms Act 1961?
The Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 was passed with an objective to consolidate laws relating to purchase and holding of agricultural land. This included ceiling on land holdings of agricultural land in the State, granting occupany rights, prohibition of the holding of agricultural lands by some persons, and conferment of ownership on tenants.
During the Budget session in March 2020, the government amended Scc 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act of 1961 to facilitate land for investors and industrial development. The change came into force, through an ordinance issued by the state government after receiving assent from the governor.
Read more: KARNATAKA ACT NO. 09 OF 2020 THE KARNATAKA LAND REFORMS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020
In addition, it was also proposed to modify the following sections: Sec 63a, ( which earlier restricted land ceiling to anon family member) 79a, 79b, 79c ( which restricted non agriculturists from acquiring agricultural land in the State) and 80 ( bar on sale of agricultural land to nonagriculturalists)
Read the complete ordinance here: https://www.eqmagpro.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/KLRAmendmentOrdinance-2020_compressed.pdf
What does it mean for farmers?
“The change will benefit large farmers but if we look at the small and medium farmers this act does nothing for them” says Bhargavi Rao, an independent researcher and consultant in the field of community action with law and public policy.
The government ordinance, on the act, removes limitations on who can own agricultural land. Due to these sections, only those who cultivated land personally could hold agricultural land. No person or family with an assured annual income above 25 lakhs sourced from non-agricultural land could hold agricultural land.
According to Rao, the change in the act is being made to help industrialists acquire more land. “They assure the government saying that the farmers will be provided with more opportunities but there is no guarantee that all these farmers will be provided with employment opportunities” she adds.
She backed her argument through the example of Pavagada where farmers have leased their lands for a solar park. At Pavagada, farmers had leased their land for the purpose of the solar park. The land fetches them about a lakh every year but this is barely enough to make ends meet. Maintenance of the solar park, its cleaning processes have also largely been mechanised thus requiring a smaller workforce. So, though the park has brought in new opportunities, the opportunities are only for a few.
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Transcribed by Divina Ann Philipose