Gujarat Governor O P Kohli has forwarded the controversial Gujarat Agriculture Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to the Centre even as he cleared eight other bills passed during the monsoon session of the Assembly in August. While this Bill was passed in the Assembly by the majority vote, amid the absence of Congress MLAs who were suspended, the Congress had recently met Kohli and requested not to clear the Bill.
According to the Congress, while the old law was intended to take the surplus land from big landlords and allot it to cattle breeder, landless persons, farm labourers and farmers, with small land holdings, the amended law intended to transfer the land to the urban bodies first and then sell it out to industrialists and builders. Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, 1960, restricts a person from owning agricultural land beyond a certain limit and it further empowers government to acquire surplus land from such owners.
The Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill proposes to enable the government to provide its surplus agricultural land for industrial purpose to industrial houses and for public use related to urbanisation to urban local bodies. Currently, the government could allot the surplus farm land only for agricultural use.