Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch rejects Karnataka Land reforms Amendment Act

Globally, women perform around 66% of the rural work, produce approximately 50% of the world’s food supply but earn a meager 10% of agricultural income and own only 1% of the property.

land aquisition

MAKAAM (Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch) – Karnataka has opposed the amendments brought out by the BJP government to the Karnataka land Reforms Act 1961. The MAKAAM has also presented a letter addressing the CM of Karnataka.

Some of the salient points addressed in the letter are as follows-

1. It may not be out of place to point out that the economy is centered around “essential services” in the COVID-19 scenario – this is essentially Gandhi’s and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s idea of the economy which provides for everybody’s need but not for humanity’s greed (against the idea of the consumerist capitalist economy that the world had built on the premise of exploitation so far). In this new world centered mainly around ‘essential services economy’, agriculture and food security take center-stage as they rightly should, and in such a context, it is extremely unwise for the government to facilitate active diversion of agricultural land from farming and farmers to non-agricultural activities and non-farmers.

We object to the government taking cover under the COVID-19 scenario to bring in undemocratic changes without widespread consultations and through the routes of ordinances.  We would like to remind that when the Modi government took the ordinance route to dilute land rights of agriculturists in their first term of government, they had to retract those moves under pressure from people’s movements, other parties, and citizens and that the state BJP government will face a similar situation if they obstinately push forward

2. Globally, women perform around 66% of the rural work, produce approximately 50% of the world’s food supply but earn a meager 10% of agricultural income and own only 1% of the property. At the all India level, only 4% of rural women own land compared to 24% of men and Karnataka also reflects the same picture at the state level. The fact that women farmers have not received land titles and that the government never prioritized landless people like them, especially Dalit and Adivasi women farmers, should have been the topmost concern of the government. Instead of these dilutions, we demand land redistribution, at least 5 acres to a landless family of five, and registration in the name of women or joint title. With a similar demand, a march for women farmer’s rights and a movement for women’s land rights-‘Mahila Bhoomi Adhikar samvad Yatra’ was led by women in 2018.

3. Since the government is comparing the legislation in Karnataka with that in states like Tamil Nadu, it is pertinent to point out that where such protective legal clauses were not there, land diversion to non-agricultural uses has been more rapid and for larger areas. In a state like Tamil Nadu, compared to Karnataka it is 2 lakh hectares more land diversion to non-agricultural uses from 1960 to 2015. Around 16.9% of the geographical area of the state is now under non-agricultural uses, whereas it hovers around 7.7% under non-agricultural uses in Karnataka. And by 2017, in Tamil Nadu, 20% of the geographical area of the state went into non-agricultural uses. Karnataka’s Land Reforms Act 1961 would surely have played a part in protecting against diversion to non-agricultural uses”.

While demands like those of MAKAAM, for empowering women farmers (especially landless women) through land rights have been consistently ignored, the dilution in the Land Reforms Act 1961, especially in the current times, does not make any sense at all. We showcase the picture of Tamil Nadu since the government has compared Karnataka regulation with states like TN, and point out that each acre of land is a source of great employment and livelihoods for rural women.

We object to the government taking cover under the COVID-19 scenario to bring in undemocratic changes without widespread consultations and through the routes of ordinances.  We would like to remind that when the Modi government took the ordinance route to dilute land rights of agriculturists in their first term of government, they had to retract those moves under pressure from people’s movements, other parties, and citizens and that the state BJP government will face a similar situation if they obstinately push forward.

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