Assembly debates encroached lands by coffee growers
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Assembly debates encroached lands by coffee growers

February 23, 2024

MLAs want encroached lands to be leased to large holders and sanction land to small holders

Bengaluru: Encroachment of Government land by small coffee growers in the coffee-growing regions of Kodagu was discussed in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, where Virajpet MLA A.S. Ponnanna appealed to the Government to permanently sanction the lands to their names as they are actively cultivating crops on those lands.

Participating in a discussion on the subject, Ponnanna said that small growers in Kodagu who are cultivating coffee and other crops in two to three acres of land are facing numerous problems.

“In certain areas, small coffee growers find themselves surrounded by large private plantations, with Government land in between that has been encroached upon. According to the law, land can be leased out for up to 25 acres. Large Government lands encroached upon by major growers should be leased out by the Government,” he said.

“However, small-scale growers, who only have two to three acres of land and have encroached upon small portions of Government land, require a permanent solution. The Government should sanction the encroached land in their names to provide them with a permanent relief about their holdings,”   Ponnanna explained.

Earlier, Sakleshpur MLA ‘Cement’ Manju mentioned that during the tenure when R. Ashoka served as the Revenue Minister in the previous BJP Government, a decision was made to lease the encroached Government land to coffee growers for a duration of 30 years. Unfortunately, due to a change in Government, this decision was not put into action. Therefore, he urged the Government to resume the process of leasing the land for a period of 30 years.

Later, Madikeri MLA Dr. Mantar Gowda raised questions regarding why the BJP Government did not implement the leasing of land to coffee growers for 30 years. He emphasised the importance of discussing pending applications, particularly the 53rd and 57th applications, which have been awaiting decisions for 20-25 years.

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He expressed satisfaction with leasing the land to Race Courses and Clubs for 30 years and wanted similar leasing to coffee growers to get permanent ownership by approving the 53rd and 57th applications. He cautioned that leasing land for 30 years could lead to future problems for the growers and suggested considering leasing the land for 99 years instead.

Intervening in the discussion, Speaker U.T. Khader said approval of land up to 3 acres for the poor could offer a permanent solution to the issue at hand.

At this point, Dr. Mantar Gowda’s father, A. Manju, who is also the JD(S) MLA from Arkalgud, intervened, questioning why the Government was hesitating to lease land to farmers while providing it for Race Courses, Resorts and Clubs.

“Why there is a delay in approving the land lease when it comes to farmers? The law prohibits leasing out land for more than 30 years. Can you take back encroached land from cultivators? It is not possible. I suggest leasing out the land to encroachers. This way, the Government would earn revenue and the lessees would benefit as well. They would also help conserve forests and contribute to the environment, he added.

Later, MLA A.S. Ponnanna spoke, urging to sanction the encroached land for small-scale coffee growers as well as to provide land for lease to large coffee growers.

What are 50th, 53rd and 57th applications?

The Bagar Hukum system, established by the State Revenue Department, requires applicants to submit Form 57 for the legalisation of agricultural land.

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The Bagar Hukum scheme traces its origins back to 1980 when the Government allocated two acres of land to landless farmers for agricultural activities. However, the beneficiaries of this scheme did not receive the title deed for the land they cultivated.

Subsequently, applications were invited in the forms of Form 50 (1991), Form 53 (1999) and Form 57 (2018) under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. The application window extended until April 2023, exclusively for those who have been engaged in cultivation for the past 15 years.

According to Madikeri MLA Dr. Mantar Gowda, who raised the issue in the Assembly, all the applications received in Form 50, Form 53 and Form 57 are pending since the last 25 years. If these applications are approved, growers can gain permanent ownership over the land.

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