Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to direct the state government to withhold the Land Reforms (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. The ordinance, which received Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s nod, came into effect on August 19.
“The decision taken by the government is unilateral, without taking the farming community into confidence. The amendment, which can have a very high impact, needs to be debated in the Assembly, before being implemented. I strongly urge you, in the interest of millions of farmers, to direct the Chief Minister of Karnataka to withhold the ordinance,” Siddaramaiah’s letter states.
The amendment has diluted several sections of the Land Reforms Act and now allows non-agriculturalists to own agricultural land. Some of the crucial sections of the Land Reforms Act, which were meant to check the land mafia from taking over agricultural properties were also repealed by the BS Yediyirappa-led BJP government in the state.
The former Chief Minister states that implementation of the new ordinance will bring back the Zamindari system, which was the primary reason for backwardness in rural areas. He also states that the new reforms will help Bengaluru land mafia to procure more land and make huge profits.
“KIABD (Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board) already has 36,000 acres of undeveloped land, which can be utilised for industrial development and is instead eyeing the productive lands of farmers. Farmers and their families will be adversely affected and many will be forced to become labourers in the lands of industrialists or big farmers,” Siddaramaiah’s letter states.
In his letter to PM Modi, Siddaramaiah states that if the new ordinance is not put on hold, the historical legislation, which paved the way for the tiller to be the land owner, will come undone and lead to an era of the rich owning all the land.
“The land reforms of 1961 and 1974 enabled marginalised sections, Dalits and other backward classes to be the owner of the land. It broke the shackles of poverty and bonded labour… Land gave social status to the marginalised and the confidence to fight against socio-economic and political injustices.However, with the amendment, farmers are again vulnerable at the hands of the wealthy and powerful,” Siddaramaiah’s letter states.
The state government had said that the amendments were brought in as a way to check the bureaucratic corruption. Siddaramaiah, in his letter, accuses the government of being incapable of dealing with corruption.
Karnataka Govt under @BSYBJP-avaru is pandering to land sharks and real estate mafia with this ordinance. It will undo decades of land reforms in Karnataka, directly impacting farmers from marginalised communities. It must be revoked immediately as demanded by @siddaramaiah-avaru https://t.co/4FhdGbnrC6— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 27, 2020
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh tweeted in support of Siddaramaiah’s demand and accused Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa of pandering to the demands of the land mafia. “BS Yediyurappa is pandering to land sharks and real estate mafia with this ordinance. It will undo decades of land reforms in Karnataka, directly impacting farmers from marginalised communities. It must be revoked immediately,” he tweeted.