The Karnataka government has proposed significant amendments to the state Land Reforms Act, 1961, to allow non-agriculturists to acquire farmland, while also modifying a section of the law which imposes ceilings on land holdings.
The B S Yediyurappa government has decided to amend the Act to repeal Sections 63-A, 79-A, B and C, which imposed ceilings on land ownership while restricting purchase of agricultural land on the basis of income and vocation by non-agriculturists.
Following the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Revenue Minister R Ashok and Law Minister J C Madhuswamy—who earlier this year piloted a Bill to amend the Land Reforms Act to allow industries to sell agricultural land allotted to them—said that an amendment to allow non-agriculturists to own farmland would be introduced in the next session of the Assembly.
“These restrictions have been used to harass farmers and landowners. The state has not been able to recover any land in contentious matters,” Ashok said, indicating that these restrictions do apply in states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Among the sections set to be repealed, Section 63-A imposes a ceiling on ownership of 10 units of land for a five-member family. The current ceiling on land-holding will be modified to allow larger holdings, the ministers said.
Section 79 A, B and C restrict farmland ownership to agriculturists, to those earning below Rs 2 lakh per annum, and prescribes penalties for violations of the law.
In March, the state government passed an amendment to Section 109 of the 1961 Act to allow industries to sell agricultural land converted for industrial purposes amid a walkout by Congress, which accused the government of bringing the amendment for the realty business.
The amendment was a promise Yediyurappa had made to investors following his visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum.
Section 109 prevented industries from selling agricultural land that had been bought for industrial purposes. It required the land to be returned to the government at no cost in the event of failure of an enterprise or inability of an investor to carry on a business.
Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2020, allows industries to sell agricultural land that was converted for industrial use by the government after a period of seven years of running a unit for the purpose of continuation of the same industry.