The Centre has posed some questions over the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015, that proposes to change the preamble of the original legislation and make surplus agriculture land — meant for landless farmers — also available to industry.
In its reply, according to a senior official of the Revenue Department, the Gujarat government assured the Centre that there was “enough agriculture land” available in the state and that the proposed amendments would not affect farm production. The Bill was passed by the Assembly in August last year.
Sources said the Union Home Ministry, the nodal agency of the Centre on state legislations that require President’s assent, has mainly asked two questions — one, if the proposed amendments are defeating the core principle of the original statute; and two, if the amendments are against agrarian reforms.
The Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act was meant to bring equality by giving surplus land to the landless poor. However, one of the amendments to the Act proposes to amend its preamble. “…in the preamble, after the words ‘for ensuring the full and efficient use thereof’, the words ‘or for the allotment for industrial purpose or for the development thereof or for any public purpose’ shall be inserted,” it stated.
The amendments propose that now, surplus land of the government under the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act could be allotted to an Urban Local Body (ULB) and the ULB, in turn, could allot the land to anybody for any “public purpose”. The term “public purpose” has not been defined.
It also provides that before a person or group is allotted land within a ULB, that person has to make available equivalent quantum of agricultural land in the vicinity of the ULB.
A senior Revenue Department officer said, “They (Centre) have sought to know if the proposed amendments will affect agricultural production. We replied around a week ago that there is enough agricultural land available in Gujarat and the amendments will not affect agricultural production. We believe that the Bill will soon get approval from the Centre.”