BENGALURU: Soon, non-agriculturists whose annual income is not more than `25 lakh will be able to buy farmland in Karnataka provided they get prior permission from the deputy commissioner and use the land for agriculture only.
The Assembly on Friday passed Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill in this regard.
The annual income ceiling for people belonging to agricultural families has also been increased to `25 lakh. At present, the income ceiling from non-agriculture sources for these families is `2 lakh per annum.
After tabling the Bill, Revenue Minister V Srinivas Prasad said the amendment was being brought considering the manifold increase in land prices and the increase in income levels of agricultural families. Another reason, he said, was to stop misuse of the existing Act.
“Though there is an income ceiling, farmlands are being purchased by non-agriculturists with higher incomes through corrupt ways and means. The Bill will avoid this,” he added.
He said due care has been taken to avoid misuse of the new law by empowering deputy commissioners to give permission to non-agriculturists. At present, this power is vested with the assistant commissioners.
A few members, including ruling party members, objected to the Bill stating that it would affect agriculture activities, besides promoting real estate. They also demanded that the state government limit the increase in ceiling of income only to agricultural families.
Congress MLA Rameshkumar said the amendment would pave way for easy access to farmlands for people who have ill-gotten money. The government should tread carefully and should not pass it in a hurry without removing the ambiguities and loopholes in it, he said.
“Devraj Urs brought this Act with great difficulty and with a concern for farmers and the poor. Let us not dilute it. The government should think thousands of times before amending the Act,” Kumar said, adding that the government had some other motive behind the Bill.
Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa agreed and said the government must ensure that the intention behind the existing Act is not affected.
BJP member S R Vishwanath, however, defended the amendment and even demanded the removal of the income ceiling. “As long as there is income limit, corruption is bound to be there. No other state in the country has this kind of law,” he said.