Assembly adopts Land Reforms Amendment Bill
Amid concern by some members that the spirit of land reforms may be diluted, the Legislative Assembly on Friday adopted the Karnataka Land Reforms and Certain Other Law (Amendment) Bill 2014, which simplifies the norms for changing land-use pattern of agricultural land for industrial and other non-agricultural purposes.
At present, those who get permission from the government to buy agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes to set up industries, educational institutes, hospitals, among others, under Section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act-1961, are required to again apply for conversion of land-use pattern, making it a tedious process.
However, piloting the Bill, Revenue Minister V. Srinivas Prasad said the proposed legislation would grant deemed conversion of the land-use pattern as soon as the farm land is purchased for industrial and non-agricultural purposes, under Section 109.
This, he said, would go a long way in encouraging industrial development. The demand for bringing in such amendments had been pending for a long time. The issue had come up even during the two Global Investors’ Meets (GIM) held by the previous government, when prospective investors had sought it.
The present law provides for the government to withdraw the land, bought under Section 109, if the purchaser fails to set up the industry within two years. However, the above Bill seeks to extend this deadline to seven years. In addition to this, provision has also been made for the buyers of such agricultural lands to approach a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to seek extension of the deadline if they cannot complete it within the stipulated time.
Congress member K.R. Ramesh Kumar and Bharatiya Janata Party member Basavaraj Bommai expressed concern that such a Bill may dilute the spirit of land reforms, the main intention of which is to ensure that agricultural land is not taken away from farmers.
Mr. Bommai wanted the government to fix a revenue division-wise ceiling on the total quantum of land that could be given for industrialists under Section 109 in a bid to prevent purchasers from misusing the provisions of the proposed legislation and take away all agricultural land. He taunted the Congress, which once introduced land reforms, of diluting it now.
Another BJP member Jagadish Kumar expressed concern that there is no land-auditing mechanism to assess the actual requirement of land by different industries. Misusing the lack of land-auditing process, industrialists are inflating their land requirements and buying excess land so that the additional land could be used for real-estate purposes, he alleged.
Mr. Prasad assured the members of examining their suggestions so that it could be incorporated at the time of framing the rules for the proposed legislation.