The Karnataka government said on Saturday it would amend existing law to allow conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural use within three days based on a self-declaration, in what promises to be a major reform for agricultural landowners.
Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act will be amended to facilitate land conversion, Revenue Minister R Ashoka has said.
“There are major obstacles to the conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. A request has to go through several departments before reaching the Deputy Commissioner. It takes 6-8 months in Bengaluru and over a year elsewhere,” Ashoka said, explaining the current system.
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“We are now introducing a conversion based on an affidavit. An owner of agricultural land will be able to use the land for any non-agricultural use by giving a self-declaration, which should be in accordance with an area’s approved master plan,” Ashoka said, adding that conversion orders will be given. within three days.
“If a particular area is marked as a green area in the master plan, the conversion cannot be done,” Ashoka pointed out.
The conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes – residential, industrial, commercial, etc. – requires an order issued by the Deputy Commissioner. However, bureaucracy has led to allegations of corruption and harassment in this process.
In case the master plan has not yet been published for an area, the conversion order will be issued on the basis of self-declaration subject to the non-agricultural use being approved by the competent authorities in accordance with Karnataka City and Land Use Planning Act.
“If it is a granted land, the applicant must declare that the requested conversion is not in violation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of Karnataka Act (prohibition of transfer of certain lands), d other terms and conditions of the concession,” Ashoka said. .
The Minister clarified that persons holding general powers of attorney (GPA) cannot apply for the conversion of agricultural land. “Only landowners can do that,” he said.
Ashoka said this reform will help curb the formation of unauthorized properties called revenue sites. “The deputy commissioners have all the information with them. Yet citizens are forced to run everywhere. This threat of conversion is why there are 20 to 30 lakh revenue sites in the state,” he said.
Under the new system, conversion orders will be canceled and fees paid will be automatically forfeited if a self-declaration violation is found, Ashoka said.
Additionally, the government is considering linking the conversion fee to the indicative value, removing the current setup. “You cannot have the same conversion fees in Bidar and Bengaluru. The conversion charge in Bidar, for example, is Rs 1 lakh while the indicative value is Rs 5 lakh per acre. You cannot have the same fees in Bengaluru where the price of land is higher,” Ashoka said.
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