Buy agricultural land in Karnataka - through SAKALA
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The intention behind the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 was to safeguard the interests of landless farmers, protect tenancy rights by applying a ceiling to large land holdings, and to unify various land reforms acts from the Princely States of Madras, Bombay, Hyderabad, Coorg and Mysore. This law also provided the power to check grabbing of agricultural land by industries. As per Section 80 of the law, non-agriculturists are barred from acquiring agricultural land, except in the case of a person with non-agricultural income of less than Rs. 2 lakh per annum. By way of the 2015 amendment to the Act, “non-agriculturists”, or people whose families did not own any agricultural land in Karnataka before 1st April 1974, were allowed to acquire agricultural land provided their annual income did not exceed Rs 25 lakh per year. In addition, the power to transfer ownership of agricultural land was provided to the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of the district.
The intent of the law clearly is to protect the right of the farmer to agricultural land and to ensure that they are not dispossessed by industrial and capitalist classes. While this intent is laudatory, there is extensive evidence of diversion of farm land to various commercial farming, and industrial uses, through dubious means. A matter of great despair is for the person genuinely interested in farming to secure agricultural land for farming, especially when they do not have previous history of farming in the family. This is a troubling fact when farming is failing extensively, and the State Government must assist farmers in finding collaborators to save their farms. Or to assist those who are keen on raising and sustaining farms, especially those who do not have a farming history but are keen on giving up their current occupation and to turn farmers for the benefit of present and future generations.
While it is true that those genuinely interested in farming can approach the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Revenue and seek permission to buy agricultural land as per the provisions of Sec. 80 (as amended in 2015), the procedure is extremely difficult, even daunting, and often at the discretion of the Commissioner, who is not required to provide reasons when applications are rejected. The lack of transparency frustrates the cause of several genuine people interested in turning farmers.
A simple remedy is to bring the procedure of reviewing applications under Sec 80 under the Sakala scheme of the Government of Karnataka ( Karnataka SAKALA Services Act of 2011) as this guarantees a time-bound appraisal of applications, and provides a time limit for a decision. Such a transfer of applications under Sec. 80 will ensure there is no intransparency or lack of accountability, and potentially prevents corrupt practices. Besides, the genuine applicant would be able to monitor the applications` process, thus empowering the person in making a choice wisely and without fear, and not having to favour any authority.
Farmers today are strained under the weight of climate change caused chaos on weather and rain patterns. This when they are already battling the harsh impacts of globalisation of trade and an unsupportive economic policy, where the farmer is clearly the victim. This is a time when the State must extend all support to those who are genuinely interested in turning farmers, or are interested in collaborating with farmers to save and protect farmland, and also the rich and diverse agricultural, animal husbandry and pastoral traditions of this country. All this will help increase food and ecological security of the nation, a simple gift that we can give future generations.
Please write an email to sakalainclusion at the rate gmail dot com in support of the demand to include Sec. 80 applications under Sakala Scheme. We welcome your queries, opinions and suggestions.
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