Bengaluru, Jul 16: Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa led state government’s move to amend the Karnataka Land Reforms Act was “a scam bigger than illegal mining” as farm lands worth Rs 50,000 crore will be lost, according to Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah.
The government on July 13 promulgated an ordinance to amend the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, allowing non-agriculturists to buy agricultural lands while also increasing the cap on the extent of such land a person or a family can hold.
Plus, the amendment will have retrospective effect, meaning over 13,000 cases registered over the years for alleged violations in acquiring farm lands will be vacated or dismissed.
“There are 13,814 cases across all 30 districts. Let’s assume that each case involves four acres of land. That’s 52,000 acres. These are lands worth Rs 45,000-50,000 crore,” Siddaramaiah told a news conference. “This is a scam bigger than illegal mining. While the mining scam had specific players, here the entire government has fallen for the corporate bodies and real estate lobby.”
The illegal mining scam unearthed when the BJP was in power was pegged at Rs 35,000 crore, which became a poll plank for the Congress to come to power in 2013.
Calling it a “black” legislation, Siddaramaiah said the amendments to the land reforms law will result in large portions of farm lands becoming real estate. “This will destroy the farming community. They’ll now have to stand at the doors of corporate bodies. Farmers will sell their land and real estate will come. What’ll happen to food production?” he said.
The ordinance amends Section 63 and 80 of the Act, while omitting Sections 79A, B and C. “These sections were inserted in 1974 under the D Devaraj Urs government. It was a revolutionary, progressive step to protect farmers and ensure social justice,” Siddaramaiah said.
The Congress leader claimed that there was a “biggest conspiracy” behind this. “All this is being driven by the Modi government. They want to privatize more and more so that reservations will go. They want to bring back the zamindari system,” he said, citing the examples of some other recent amendments to other laws.
The timing of the ordinance is suspect, he said. “If the Yediyurappa government really wanted to help farmers and had good intentions, they could’ve brought this before the Assembly or placed it for public discussion. Instead, they’ve made use of the lockdown period to promulgate the ordinance,” he said.
The Congress will fight the ordinance till it gets withdrawn, Siddaramaiah said. “We will talk to other parties, farmers organisations and Dalit groups to plan protests against the BJP’s hidden agenda and anti-farmer policies,” he added.