The BJP government in Gujarat is all set to exempt certain trusts running gaushalas or cattle sheds from certain provisions of the agri land ceiling law that restrict them from owning a large quantum of agricultural land. A Bill to amend the existing Agriculture Land Ceiling (ALC) Act in order to bring in the exemptions are set to be tabled in the state Assembly in the upcoming budget session, beginning Monday.
Under the provisions of the ALC Act, a person or organisation cannot own agriculture land more than the limit stipulated by the law.
The limit to own agriculture land under the provisions of ALC Act, however, varies from one district to another in the state, said sources.
Under an amendment to the ALC Act introduced in 1974, the state government had set a time limit that only those public trusts that were registered before 1973 could own more land than prescribed by the ALC Act.
“Through the proposed Bill, the state government wants to exempt public trusts that are running gaushalas and were registered after 1973 from the clause that limits their capacity to own agriculture land… After this Bill gets passed in the Assembly and gets necessary subsequent permissions, registered public trusts running gaushalas will be able to own more agriculture land than prescribed under the land ceiling law,” said the sources in the know-how of the proposed Bill.
According to a senior state government official, there are a number of public trusts working for cow conservation or running gaushalas in the state, especially in Kutch.
“And many of them own agriculture land beyond the limit stipulated by the ALC Act. Those surplus land parcels get vested with the state government under ALC Act provisions. And because of that, many court cases regarding the land parcels are pending in different parts of Gujarat between the trusts and the state government. With this amendment, those cases could be resolved,” the official said.
The rules for granting permission to public trusts registered after 1973 to own more land than stipulated by the ALC Act will be declared after the Bill gets cleared, the official added.
Sources said that a certain section of religious groups is working in the field of “jeevdaya” (compassion towards animals) in Gujarat have been asking the government to exempt certain trusts from owning more agriculture land.
The latest amendment Bill seems to be on the lines of the demand.
It is to be noted that Gujarat is facing acute water shortage this year owing to less rainfall this year. The state government has initiated several relief measures for water scarcity hit regions; one of them is relief for cattle sheds to attend to animals. Kutch is the district worst affected by the water scarcity this year.