New land grant rules draw ire of activists, farmers

New land grant rules draw ire of activists, farmer groups

In Numbers

The controversial Karnataka Land Grant (Amendment) Rules, 2020, has attracted the wrath of activists and farmer groups.

While activists contend that the new amendments only appeal to land mafia and infringe on the responsibilities of some statutory bodies, farmer groups view the amendments to be against their interest.

The Rules, notified last week, allows the government to “dispose of” leased government lands at the prevailing guidance value, and fixed uniform market value while granting or leasing government land.

Lands leased for over 15 years “to societies, charitable or religious institutions, or educational institutions or agriculture or for other purpose prior to the date of commencement of the Karnataka Land Revenue (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, shall be disposed off,” the notification said.

The institutions can buy the land at the prevailing guidance value provided the land is used for the same purpose as it was leased, and at twice the guidance value if the land is for other purpose.

V S Balasubramanian, former additional chief secretary who had chaired a task force for protection of public lands, criticised the new Rules. “The purpose of these amendments is to help the real estate lobby to create land banks,” he
said.

There was no provision in the past to lease land for industry under Land Grant Rules. The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board used to acquire land and lease it to industries, he noted, adding that new Rules would allow companies to buy or lease land directly from distressed landowners.

Commenting on the low price fixed for granting or leasing land, he said that it was clear that the amendments purpose was to grab government land. “Once the land is leased, it never comes back,” Balasubramanian added.

Badagalpura Nagendra, president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha said that it was a ploy by the government to “lure farmers into selling or leasing their lands. They are already rendered helpless by low prices for crops,” he said.

This is a pro-corporate ploy to acquire land, which will have ramifications on food security in the long run, he added.

It can be recalled that the government had floated the move as a revenue generation measure to ease the fiscal constraints caused by Covid-19 lockdown. Initial projections estimated that the measure would generate around Rs 2,250 crore in Bengaluru Urban district
alone.