Pay fine, get land converted for quarrying minor minerals

Pay fine, get land converted for quarrying minor minerals

The Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed an amendment bill which will pave the way for increase in the number of quarry and stone crushing units in the State.

Revenue Minister V Srinivas Prasad piloted the Karnataka Land Reforms and Certain other Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the House passed it even as the BJP members expressed many apprehensions over the provisions.

The bill stipulates that those intending to change land use from agriculture purpose to non-agriculture purpose, for setting up a stone crushing unit or for quarrying minor minerals, can get deemed conversion after paying a fine and an application to the deputy commissioner for the same purpose.

The House witnessed a heated debate with the opposition BJP MLAs, Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa and the Congress MLAs seeking clarifications on why the government was asking people to pay “fine” when it was legally allowing them to conduct quarrying. The MLAs also questioned the possible misuse of this amendment.

The Speaker said that crushing units should be allowed only in those areas which have been earmarked as buffer zones or safer zones.

Leader of Opposition Jagadish Shettar and Congress MLA from Srinivaspur K R Ramesh Kumar attacked the Law minister and the government for including the word fine, instead of using some other word like tax or fee.

“An honest man who intends to quarry, based on your own laws, will be made guilty by paying a fine. It is not a right word to use,” said Ramesh Kumar.

Shettar alleged that the government, by using the word fine, was trying to regularise illegal stone crushing units.

Law Minister T B Jayachandra said that the prime reason for allowing deemed conversion was to increase the availability of sand for infrastructure projects. He said that all those who will be allowed the deemed conversion of land will have to obtain licence and permission under the Karnataka Regulation of Stone Crushers Act, 2011.

“As for the use of the word fine, we had to use it as the Karnataka Land Reforms Act considers the land conversion as a diversion of revenue from the said land as a loss. Accordingly, for that purpose we use the word fine,” justified Jayachandra.

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