Today's Paper

Kumaraswamy `threatens' to quit over Bill on land grabbing

H.D. Kumaraswamy  

S. Rajendran

Heated arguments between coalition partners in Cabinet meeting

BANGALORE: The State Cabinet, which met here on Thursday, reportedly witnessed a wordy duel between Ministers from the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party over the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2007.

The Janata Dal (S) has remained steadfast on its stand that the only way to check land grabbing is to introduce a legislation, while the BJP is believed to have raised objections to some of the contents in it.

According to the estimation by the Joint Legislature Committee headed by A.T. Ramaswamy and surveys by the Revenue Department, 18,000 acres of land have been encroached upon in and around Bangalore alone. Sources in the Government told The Hindu that what brought the coalition partners to get back to the discussion table and iron out their differences was the threat to resign held out by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Thereafter, the Principal Secretary to the Government (Revenue) was asked to make a detailed presentation on the advantages of the Bill apart from clarifying on the objections raised by the BJP Ministers.

The Janata Dal (S), for over a year now, has been out to expose all those connected with land encroachment and has been seeking the support of the BJP in this regard.

It was said that the heated arguments centred on the remarks made by some of the senior Ministers.

The Chief Minister is stated to have said that he is firm that the land grabbing abolition Bill should be placed before the legislature for a thorough discussion and passage and that there is no question of holding up the proposed legislation.

The Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2007 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday by Minister for Home and Law and Parliamentary Affairs M.P. Prakash and the Bill is scheduled to come up for consideration on Tuesday.

The budget session of the legislature should have ended on Thursday, but has been extended till April 13.

The Government has sought to bring forth the legislation since "there are organised attempts on the part of certain lawless persons operating individually and in groups to grab either by force or by deceit lands belonging to the Government, local authorities and religious and charitable institutions. Under the legislation, the offenders would have to pay a penalty. For the purpose of providing a speedy inquiry and trial of cases in respect of the ownership of the land concerned, special courts would also be constituted."