Bengaluru: Former Karnataka chief minister and Congress’s leader of the opposition, Siddaramaiah on Thursday said that the recently introduced reforms that liberalises farmland ownership by the B.S.Yediyurappa government was ‘bigger than the illegal mining scam’.
He said that the state government had done away with a legislation that was meant to protect poor and small farmers.
"This looks like a scam bigger than the mining scam," Siddaramaiah said, adding that several cases or petitions pending under sections 79 (A), (B) of the land reforms act have been dismissed. “They were related to violation of land use valued at around ₹45,000-50,0000 crore," he said in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Siddaramaiah deliberately referred to the illegal iron-ore mining scam that had tainted the then Yediyurappa government and led to the collapse of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) have cornered the state government over the contentious ordinance that allows non-farmers also to own agricultural land.
The statements come at a time when the Yediyurappa-led government has been accused of trying to profiteer from the rapidly deteriorating covid-19 health crisis in Karnataka. The government has brought in reforms into legislations governing industries and land procurement that, the opposition says, is anti-farmer and benefits corporations.
Siddaramaiah said that the Congress will organise state-wise agitation against the move.
Earlier regulations that prescribe an income limit to purchase farm land as well as sections non-farmers from purchasing agricultural land have been done away with.
The government had reasoned that archaic legislations had led to legal entanglements and were not useful for farmers. There are over 83000 cases related to this and several thousands are still pending, according to R.Ashoka, Karnataka’s revenue minister.
Siddaramaiah said that the government was prioritising land reforms and dilution of labour laws at a time when all its energies should be focused on containing the covid-19 situation.
The state government is trying to usher in land reforms to ease regulations and attract investments by removing hurdles in land procurement for industries that would create jobs, help ease some of the economic distress and acute fund crunch. It has also roped in Boston Consulting Group India Private Limited to bring in investors.
The government had said that it was taking the ordinance route since the assembly was not in session. It had also said that the reforms were required to help the state capitalise on people from the cities wanting to own agricultural land as well as those who want to take up farming in a big way.