Karnataka Forests, Ecological and Environment Minister, Anand Singh announced on Friday that the state government was planning to drop 6.64 lakh hectare of forest land from deemed forest category to help farmers in the state.
Singh’s decision was overwhelmingly welcomed by the Opposition parties including Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and others stating that the Opposition was in favour of taking such a decision as the “deemed forest” category had become a tool in the hands of bureaucrats to harass “bagair hukum” farmers in the state.
Bagair Hukum is a piece of government-owned land that has been cultivated by the farmers over the years without having any formal and documented ownership rights over it and whose title deeds are yet to be approved by the competent authority.
According to the minister, the entire state has more than 10 lakh hectares of deemed forest land and of which the state government wants to drop 6.64 lakh hectare from the deemed forest land category.
He further argued that wrong classification of land has resulted in several anomalies, therefore, it needs to set right. “Once we get this land and handed over to the revenue department it will be easier for us to resolve Bagair Hukum farmers problems,” he said.
Intervening at this juncture, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and former speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar asserted that the state government must take all necessary steps to resolve this long pending demand from Bagair Hukum farmers.
“These farmers have a small land holding but they are harassed by the bureaucracy for unnecessary reasons. This must stop. If this can bring reprieve to farmers, we (the Opposition) will support it,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill, piloted by revenue minister, R. Ashoka asserted that the “freed forest land” will usher in a new era of development. “Several projects are held up across the state due to wrong classification land,” he said.
The minister further added that more farmers are set to get the benefit of regularisation of government lands being unauthorised cultivated, as the Legislative Assembly on Friday adopted this Bill seeking to extend the cut-off date by two years for regularisation under the bagair hukum scheme.