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Legalise agri land leasing, reforms panel tells Karnataka govt

This is among the many recommendations made by KARC-2 whose outgoing chairperson TM Vijay Bhaskar submitted his seventh report to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 16:30 IST

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Administrative Reforms Commission-2 (KARC-2) has asked the government to legalise leasing of agricultural plots, a move whose impact can be far-reaching by unlocking the potential of huge tracts of land that are not being put to use.

This is among the many recommendations made by KARC-2 whose outgoing chairperson TM Vijay Bhaskar submitted his seventh report to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday.

The KARC-2 has drafted the Karnataka Crop Production and Land Rejuvenation Bill, which it said the government must consider.

At present, the law restricts tenancy in agriculture (except if the landowner is a defence staff, seaman or if the land is located in Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada).

"Restrictive land leasing laws have led to informal and concealed tenancies without security of tenure. This has ultimately resulted in impeding investments in the agriculture sector and, thus, adversely impacted agricultural productivity," the KARC-2 stated.

Leasing restrictions have also contributed to the major problem of unused or fallow lands. Karnataka has 21 lakh hectares of fallow land - about 16% of the total tillable land. The total crop loss due to such fallow lands may be Rs 8,000 crore a year, the KARC-2 said.

"The fear of agricultural lands falling into the hands of the sharecroppers or tenant farmers after a specific period (due to restrictive clauses) has also led to landowners keeping large chunks of

lands fallow rather than leasing them to willing lessees in Karnataka. With an enabling

framework, legalising land leasing could correct such anomalies," the report said.

Under informal leasing arrangements, most tenants are small and marginal farmers belonging to SC/ST and OBCs. "Lands are mostly leased out by migrant land owners, landowning urbanites and big land owners," it said.

The report said informal tenancy leads to inaccessibility of institutional crop loans, input subsidies and benefits under various schemes. "Such benefits are often appropriated by landowners."

The KARC-2's seventh report has 527 recommendations pertaining to nine departments.

It has asked the government to introduce a Tatkal system for service delivery in a day or two. "It's a known fact that when a citizen needs a service urgently, she can pay a higher amount informally and get it. There is a need to formalise and institutionalise this system," the report said, adding that half of the fee can go to staff delivering the service.

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(Published 02 March 2024, 16:30 IST)

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