Changes to Karnataka Land Reforms Act to allow non-agriculturists to buy farmland

Decision also taken to remove ceiling on income from non-agricultural sources

Updated - June 12, 2020 12:15 pm IST

Published - June 11, 2020 11:41 pm IST - Bengaluru

In a significant change to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, the State Cabinet on Thursday decided to allow non-agriculturists to purchase agricultural land and to remove the ceiling on income from non-agricultural sources to do so. It has also decided to increase the number of units of land a person can hold.

The government has decided to repeal Sections 63 (a), 79 (a), (b) and (c) in the existing legislation to enable these changes.

The Congress government, led by Siddaramaiah, had amended the Act in 2015 and increased the income limit from non-agricultural sources to purchase farm land from ₹2 lakh to ₹25 lakh. The income limit was fixed to prevent the misuse of farmland.

Interestingly, the BJP, then in the Opposition, had opposed the Bill saying it would defeat the very purpose of the Land Reforms Act.

Briefing the Cabinet decisions, Revenue Minister R. Ahsok and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy said that amendments to the existing Act will be made during the next session of the State Legislature and it would enable any person to purchase farm land to start farming activities.

Currently, Section 63 (a) of the Act imposes a ceiling of 10 units for a five-member family. This ceiling will be removed to enable a family to possess 20 units for a five- member family. The ceiling will be increased from 20 units to 40 units for a family having more than five members, the Ministers said.

A few months ago, to give a pro-industry push, the B.S. Yediyurappa-led government had amended the Act allowing acquisition and conversion of agricultural land for industrial purposes within a 30-day time frame and the Opposition Congress had strongly opposed it.

More recently, the government also allowed the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, which also saw opposition.

The Ministers defended the move sayin that Land Reforms Acts have been amended in other States and non-agriculturists have been buying lands.

High-salaried IT/BT professionals of Bengaluru and other cities have been buying land in neighbouring States owing to flexible laws there. The proposed changes in the Act will enable them to invest in agricultural land in Karnataka too, they said.

The proposed changes will help farmers get good price for their land. Also, keeping in mind the land dispute cases in courts, it was decided to bring in changes in the Act, Mr. Ashok added.

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