Karnataka

‘Amendments will accelerate conversion of farmland’

Farmers under the aegis of KRRS burning a draft of the proposed amendments, in Mysuru on Saturday.

Farmers under the aegis of KRRS burning a draft of the proposed amendments, in Mysuru on Saturday.  

Stakeholders, including farmers and environmentalists, have strongly opposed the changes to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, which paves way for purchase of farmland by non-agriculturists.

They have also raised concerns on its socio-economic impact in rural areas besides its effect on food security and environment. The proposed move has already stoked agitation in parts of the State and farmers burnt a copy of the draft in Mysuru on Saturday.

T.N. Prakash Kammardi, former chairperson, Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission, said easing of land purchase and removal of ceiling on income from non-agricultural sources will have serious implications on food security and sovereignty of the country. “Nearly 50 lakh acre of farmland has gone out of food production in the State in the last 10 years because of various factors, including distress sale by farmers. This was despite all the restrictions in place imposed by the Act. Now that the government has decided to repeal certain sections in the legislation, the pace of transfer will accelerate and push farmers to the brink and render them landless and unemployed,” he said.

Agriculture land going out of farming is a serious issue and it will have severe consequences in the rural areas and trigger migration to cities which cannot provide jobs or absorb so many people and the resultant social implications is much more than what one can imagine, said Mr.Kammaradi.

Badagalpura Nagendra, president, KRRS, said farmers did not acquire land as a free gift but got ownership after a prolonged struggle which led to the 1961 legislation to protect their interests and make tillers the owners of the land. The ceiling on landholdings was introduced to bridge the gulf between small and large landholders and give ownership to landless agricultural workers. The government has now overturned the very purpose for which the original law was enacted, he said.

Mr. Nagendra said more than 90% of agriculturists in the State are small landholders owning 1 to 2 acres of land and they would be lured to sell their land. “We are already witnessing the problem of migrant workers and this will aggravate the issue,” he added. KRRS has planned a mass movement against it and it will unfold in a stage-wise manner, he added.

Agitation planned

Kurubur Shanthakumar, president, Karnataka State Sugarcane Cultivators’ Association, also threatened a State-wide agitation, apart from laying siege to the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.

‘Real estate sharks are in possession of lakhs of hectares of agricultural land and awaiting its conversion for residential and industrial plots across the State and this move will benefit them but not the farmers’’, he added.

Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha State president Maruti Manpade has opposed the State government’s decision to bring in an amendment to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961, which allows non-agriculturists to purchase agricultural land and remove the cause on the ceiling on income from non-agriculture sources.Mr. Manpade speaking to The Hindu on Saturday said with the amendment, the idea of “land of the tillers” will remain a slogan and will The government’s decision to repeal Sections 79(A) and (B) of Karnataka land Reforms Act, 1961, encourage corporates to buy land at cheaper prices and get into contract farming, forcing farmers to become landless labourers.

Mr. Manpade said such a move during the pandemic was done with a belief that people will not hit the streets to agitate. Agriculture is the greatest source of employment in rural areas had made significant contributions to fight against poverty. He said that the food security of any nation depends on the natural productivity of the land and its people, and the industrialization of agriculture would degrade both, he added.

He said KPRS and other pro-farmers’ organisations opposed the amendments and warned of a State-wide protest.

(With inputs from Praveen Para in Kalaburagi)

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 12:19:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/amendments-will-accelerate-conversion-of-farmland/article31822669.ece

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