Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has defended the Goa Restriction on Transfer of Agricultural Land Bill, claiming it will save the coastal State's paddy fields from being taken over by buyers for non-agriculture purposes.
The legislation seeks to impose restrictions on the transfer of agricultural land to preserve and protect paddy cultivation. The Bill was passed in the Goa Assembly on March 31, the last day of the recently concluded session, even as the Opposition parties had raised an objection to it.
Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai and other legislators had claimed that the government wanted to encourage farmhouse culture in the State through the Bill.
Talking to PTI on Tuesday, CM Sawant said though the Opposition parties may not have shown trust, Goans have faith in the government.
“We have drafted the Bill keeping the interest of Goans at heart. That is why after the Goa Agriculture Tenancy Act, this is the second such Bill in the last 60 years enacted by the State to safeguard the paddy fields,” Mr. Sawant said.
The Chief Minister said this will restrict people from places such as Delhi and other States (non-Goans) from purchasing the paddy fields in Goa and "converting" them (for real estate purpose).
“The Bill clearly restricts the sale of paddy fields for non-agriculture purposes,” he said adding that non-agriculturists can purchase the land for agriculture purposes, but they will have to utilise it within three years or else it would be taken over by the government.
Mr. Sawant praised Congress MLA Carlos Ferreira for suggesting a change in the Bill, but criticised other legislators for opposing the Bill. "Some people (Opposition MLAs) are feeling bad because they are afraid the credit for this Bill will go to the Bharatiya Janata Party or Dr. Pramod Sawant,” he said.
Mr. Sawant said some people who are opposing the Bill want to sell agricultural land. “I don't know who is backing them...the way they are attacking the government on the Agriculture Bill. We are trying to save our nature,” he said.