Kumki land: Committee plans agitation against SC order

Kumki land: Committee plans agitation against SC order

The Kumki Horata Samithi has envisaged a plan to agitate against the recent order of the Supreme Court upholding the High Court order giving full authority to the deputy commissioner over Kumki land.

Speaking at a workshop organised to interact with the farmers to create awareness over Kumki land, the Kumki Horata Samithi, Dakshina Kannada, President Ramachandra Nekkela said the Samithi has three options to carry out the struggle.The first option is to make an appeal to a higher authority, the second is to file a fresh petition in the High Court for the rights and the third option is to exert pressure on the government to issue a gazette notification in this regard, he added.

He said the problem of Kumki rights is found especially in Malnad and coastal region. Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi districts are affected with a large number of farmers with Kumki land, he added.

He said nearly six lakh farmers are struggling for their rights from the past 150 years. According to the statistics from government, 1,97,401 farmers  in Udupi district and  2,13,304 farmers in Dakshina Kannada districts have Kumki land.

The previous government had considered a request and had taken action to ensure that farmers retain their rights over Kumki land. A notification was also made. But the new government has not taken any steps to implement the provisions in the notification, he criticised.

Nekkela said that the High Court order says that the deputy commissioner will have a say in utilising the Kumki land for public set-ups. The verdict was delivered following a case filed by Shyam Bhat and others against the government. However, the verdict is not focusing on the rights of the farmers on Kumki land. The farmers own the rights for Kumki land and the provision was guaranteed by the then Madras government in 1868, he said.

He added that this is not the encroachment of land. It is a special provision made available through a law. Till 1971, the farmers were given ownership. However, they were deprived of right to property later. The Supreme Court in the Chandrasekhar Adiga Vs Government of Karnataka case (1976) has clearly mentioned that Kumki rights are the property rights within the contemplation of Article 19 and 31 of the Constitution. Therefore, these rights could be curtailed, abridged or taken away only by law and not by an executive fiat, he explained.

 If the government entrusts the rights of Kumki land to the farmers, it would help collect nearly Rs 1,500 crore tax annually, he said.

Nekkela lamented that ministers are also ignorant over the problem as this problem exists exclusively in Malnad and coastal regions. The government tries to legalise the encroached land through Akrama-Sakrama, but it behaves merciless against farmers. The rate fixed for the land as per the Land Reforms Act is 500 times the tax rate for the first five acres of land and market value for the next five acres of land, he added.

He also said many farmers have converted the Kumki land into agriculture land. This is the question of survival of the farmers, he added.

Udupi District Bharatiya Kissan Sangha President B V Poojary said a serious struggle would be carried out against the government demanding the Kumki rights. He alleged that the government is into acquisition of land for industries and it is detrimental to the environment.

Venkatraya Shenoy from Siddapura, who owns about 15 acres of land, said he is upset over the court order as he has nearly 8-10  acres of Kumki land. Bhujanga Shetty from Kavadi said Kumki land is the farmers’ right and the farmers would fight for their rights.