Karnataka to let non farmers buy farmland to boost corporate farming

The decision is being seen as the latest reform pushed by the Karnataka government with an aim to attract investments.

The Karnataka government has decided to remove restrictions governing the purchase of farmland in the state through amendments to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act (KLRA) 1961 and section 109. The government has said that it would cement this far-reaching policy decision by soon bringing a legislation before the assembly.

Briefing the media after the cabinet meeting, minister of law, parliamentary affairs and legislation J C Madhuswamy said the proposed amendments to sections 5, 63, 79A, 79B and 80 of KLRA would enable anybody to directly purchase farmland in the state.

Till now, only farmers were allowed to directly purchase farmland. Even industry had to go through agencies like the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) to acquire land. It was not possible for private businesses to acquire land even for corporate farming.

The state government expects the amendments will bring in a reform giving industries easier access to farmland and better price discovery opportunities to farmers looking to sell their land without middlemen.

Explaining the rationale for the amendments, Madhuswamy said, “Ever since the law was enforced in 1974 about 83171 cases have been registered with regard to farmland sale and acquisition disputes. The law has been used to just harass both sellers and buyers.”

He claimed that the neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, TN, Kerala, Maharashtra and several other states across India didn’t restrict the sale of farmland.

“This law was only being misused, so, to prevent that, we have brought in these amendments,” Madhuswami said.

The minister also claimed that several citizens in the urban areas wanted to invest and take up farming. “Why should we prevent them? Our people are going and buying land in neighbouring states, why can’t they invest in their own state which will help both farm landowners who want to sell and the government hopefully will get some revenue,” he reasoned.

He claimed that Karnataka had 98.95 lakh hectares of agricultural land including 22 lakh hectares that were not being used for farming. He said the amendments will help unlock farm land for better utilization. As per the proposed amendment, if the district deputy commissioner doesn’t give permission within a month of an application being submitted, it will be deemed to have been granted automatically.

With these amendments, earlier barriers like ceiling on income, the quantum of landholding and non-leasing of agricultural land will be removed.

These measures are being seen as chief minister Yediyurappa’s continued push to attract investments to the state. A special task force to lure companies wanting to exit China and invest in the state is being headed by the Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/karnataka-to-let-non-farmers-buy-farmland-to-boost-corporate-farming/story-9OblOZA1j5hTpstKDqf32L.html

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