Change in land laws: Largest release of farmland from revenue cases in Bengaluru


The State Government has moved swiftly to get all revenue cases pending under the repealed sections of the Land Reforms Act, 1961, dropped forthwith paving the way for release of thousands of acres of land into open market.

Bengaluru urban and rural districts will see about 40,000 acres of land released to their owners, the largest in the state. About 1.73 lakh acres of farmland are locked up in revenue cases state-wide, and their owners will soon walk away with ownership titles.

The government acted fast as most farmers have been unable to get competitive prices for their plots due to a string of restrictions the earlier law imposed. The covid-19 pandemic has left farming class in distress, and sections of them have been helpless despite owning agriculture plots.

“All these cases are null and void in law with immediate effect,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka told ET, adding that the government has given a go by to a 46-year old law that left thousands of families in deep distress.

“We have locked the (computer) system to prevent misuse by any official by way of record entries with retrospective effect. We have made out online systems tamper-proof,” the minister said.

The government, through an Ordinance on July 13, repealed the two sections rendering all cases taken up under the twin sections infructuous. The ordinance has made other changes as well.

The revenue officials took up cases after completion of sale transactions of agriculture plots in thousands of cases on suspicions that they have flouted Sections 79 A &B of the land reforms law. The government has now asked deputy commissioners to ensure ownership of plots is transferred to buyers name with necessary changes in the record of tenancy and rights (RTC) records.

The moment authorities take up cases under sections 79A&B, they suspend the issue of khathas to buyers. The government has now directed deputy commissioners to take steps to issue khatas in their names, said N Manjunatha Prasad, principal secretary, revenue department, told ET.

The changes in the law will free up thousands of acres of farmland from revenue cases, and go a long way in unlocking their true market potential. Farmers can now freely buy and sell lands without the fear of getting into issues with revenue officials, he added.

The twin repealed sections required agriculturists to sell their farmland only to other agriculturists. A person with annual incomes of above Rs 25 lakh from non-agriculture sources would lose his/her tag as “farmer” regardless of the family background, it said.

Now any Indian, or a trust, society, company or an educational institution can buy non-irrigated farmland in Karnataka regardless of the buyer’s annual income from non-agricultural sources.

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had faced queries over Karnataka’s complex land regulations from investor community during his Davos visit in January.

No other state in India has this kind of a law. “A number of software engineers coming from agriculture families have not been able to buy agricultural land, and take up farming alongside,” the revenue minister had told ET recently.

Many high-net-worth individuals have bought farmland in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh because of the restriction in Karnataka. A number of Bengalureans own agricultural plots just across Anekal as Tamil Nadu encourages investments in farming activities, and it’s just about an hour’s drive from the city.

Karnataka has 98.95 lakh hectares of cultivable land out of which 22 lakh hectares are not under cultivation as most of these are owned by families who have moved away from agriculture.

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