Sri Vajubhai Rudabhai Valaji
Government of Karnataka
Subject: Requesting not to pass land reforms bill through “Ordinance” for the state of Karnataka
The Government of Karnataka is ready to pass many bills such as APMC bill, Electricity bill, Essential Commodity bill and the Land Reforms Bill. These bills are highly objected to by Farmers organization, Social thinkers, specialists’ people and common persons across the state of Karnataka.
The Legislative Assembly plans to pass the Land reforms bill through an Ordinance. This move is highly condemned by all farmers’ organizations, individual peasants and women farmers, land-less labourers and others. Today the farming community consists of almost 70% of the total population of which 51% are direct farmers. Land reforms is a sensitive issue. It is an issue that concerns the lives of farmers and that of farming systems, culture, tradition, bio-diversity, water and forest lands, and the lives of millions of other persons such as artisans, pot makers, weavers, handicrafts and the rural economy as a whole.
We urge you to take note of the following issues:
1. The Government of Karnataka is trying to bring amendments to the following Sections:
Sec 79(a): Non-Agriculture income should not exceed 25 lakhs to buy an agriculture land
Sec 79(b): Only practicing farmers who own Pahani from their ancestors can buy agriculture lands
Sec 79(c): If found guilty in buying agriculture land they will be prosecuted by the act of law
Sec 63: A family of 5 and below can buy agriculture land upto 54 acres and family above 5 members can buy upto 108 acres. 108 acres is the maximum ceiling limit.
Sec 80: Agriculture land cannot be used for non-agriculture purposes
The Government of Karnataka is going to bring amendments to all the above quoted sections. If Sec 79(a) and 79 (b) gets waved, then anyone can buy agriculture lands with whatever his/her income levels and whoever he/she is concerned. Then automatically 79(c) will lose its functionality and existence. The Government is also trying to dilute the strength of Land ceiling limits of Sec 63. It now proposes that a family of 5 or less than that can own 108 acres and family of more than 5 members can own upto 216 acres. This dilution of Sec 63 will give scope for huge land banks and aggregators. It is said that Sec 80 will also be diluted, a person if he/she wish to convert that land for non-agricultural purposes, he/she can appeal to that District Commissioner and if that DC does not give permission within 30 days, it will be deemed that land will be converted.
2. Corona group of virus have become pandemic across the globe. State of Karnataka has already crossed 10000 plus cases and it is increasing everyday by the hundreds. As per the estimates by medical technical team, it is said that Covid infection will reach its peak in Aug-Oct. The Government of Karnataka cannot use this time to pass any bills where public discussions and consultancy cannot be held. This Covid virus is virulent for the people who are aged 65 and above, but unfortunately all farmer leaders are 60 plus in age, and cannot come outside their homes to protest against this. The fact that the Government is now ready to pass Ordinance in this stage indicates a violation of the basic norms of democracy.
3. There are already 83,000 plus cases relating to land access and rights pending in the court of law, and all these are violative of the rules of 79 (a) & (b). Now, the government is ready to dismiss all the cases pending in the court as per the statement of ministers. This leads to the loss of fundamental rights of justice and social equity.
4. Due to Covid pandemic, thousands of people have returned to their native villages, and it is now the due duty of the government to think and rework on programs such as MGNREGA and other rural development schemes to make ensure their livelihood security. Instead, by proposing these draconian new laws via ordinances the government is pushing rural people into drudgery.
5. Nearly 80% of farmers in Karnataka are small and medium farmers. These are the farmers who bring food security to the state. These farmers today suffer from climate change, uncertain rainfall, pest and disease, low soil carbon, insecure market, high production costs and so on. Under such conditions the government should not further pauperise rural people by enforcing them to sell their land and become labourers on their own fields. The Government needs to address these issues to make their lives and lands viable and sustainable.
6. The Agriculture minister has said that agriculture graduates are not in a position to do scientific advanced agriculture since they don’t own agriculture lands. We raise questions about this statement. How many agriculture graduates and masters practice agriculture today? In reality many are working in multinational seeds, fertilizers, and pesticide companies. They are in great demands in banks. Many of them are in civil services etc. Hardly 1% of them go into agriculture or return to their villages. “Scientific agriculture” has become a great failure today. 0ur farmers who have mastered farming from hundreds of years are in great distress due to the vicious cycle of debts, and therefore parents do not want their son or a daughter to do agriculture in their respective villages. This is the fact and bitter ground truth. Another question is how many applications or letters have come from agriculture graduates to the minister requesting land for agriculture? Does the government have details of this?
7. Land degradation and desertification are the major concerns in Karnataka. As per the Desertification Atlas by ISRO it is said 36.24% of land have already been degraded due to over exploitation of agriculture lands, soil and water. If the proposed amendments via the ordinances are made, then the competitive exploitation of ground resources will increase. As of now, most of the villages have gone more than 800 feet for underground water. The suggested reforms and amendments will render land to see become only investment commodities and thereby subject to exploitation by advanced chemicals, mono-cropping, heavy water use, and hybridization etc. This will further have a cascading effect on land degradation and underground water in coming years.
8. Forest lands, as per the Forest survey of India is only 18.5% – 19% (out of minimal 33% to balance ecology). Usually villages and human civilization will be on the downstream of forest and mountain lands. If the village lands start exploiting underground water in the name of scientific agriculture due to competition, all these forest lands will be deprived of underground water and start converting into thorny shrub forests and later may ruin themselves. There will be a greater loss of Bio-diversity. This is worst sign causing irreversible damage to ecology and environment. Agriculture needs to be seen as a part of environment. If we degrade the environment, we will end up in great crisis.
9. Food security of the state and the nation will be assured by farmers, who work with the knowledge that they have learnt from their ancestors over hundreds and thousands of years and this great wisdom will be severely threatened. Agriculture is a greater science with nature starting from predicting rainfall, ploughing lands, sowing seeds, harrowing, weeding, crop care, harvesting and packing, post-harvest measures, storage of seeds etc. Farmers do all these operations with great love, and they have compassion for soil, plants and trees. For farmers their fields are their universe. If land is rendered into only a business opportunity, then they will not be able to assure the state or nation of any productivity. Food and nutritional security can be assured only by farmers. So, it is a question of both farmers’ and the larger public’s food security. The proposed land reform is a serious threat to farmer’s sovereignty.
We hereby request our honorable Governor, government of Karnataka, not to pass the Ordinance to the Land reform bill since it is the question of every farmer’s life, farming system and of our bio diversity, forest and pasture lands, ponds, streams, rivers and other water bodies, culture and tradition, life and humanity as a whole.
We urge you to uphold the norms and processes of democracy and not sign this Bill and the Ordinances.
Farmers Organizations who are concerned against Land Reforms in the State of Karnataka:
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha hagu Hasiru Sene: Badagalapura Nagendra: 9449264917
Amrita Bhoomi: Chukki Nanjundaswami: 9482164376
Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha: G C Byyareddy: 9448230121
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Virodhi Kayade Horata Samithi: Kurubur Shanthakumar: 9448060640
Gram Seva Sangh: Rangakarmi Prasanna: 9008484880
J H Patel foundation: Mahima Patel: 7899458609
The School of Natural Farming: Manjunath H: 9632226229
Tumkur Science Centre: Yathiraju C: 9481677607
Punarchith: Dr. A R Vasavi: 9448360215
Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan: Madavan C P: 7899939414
Rashtriya kisan mahasangh: Suresh patil: 9845253134
Swadeshi andolan: K V Biju (All India Org Secretary): 9871368252
Karnataka Rashtra Samithi Party: Mallikarjun: 9880665397
WordPress: Narasimha Reddy Donthi: 0091-40-24077804
Rashtriya Kisan Sangh: Konche Shivarudrappa: 9448705384
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha: K T Gangadhar (Rajya varistaru): 9448524928