Jamma Bane circular kicks up dust yet again
The Karnataka government has once again triggered a controversy over the Jamma tenure in Kodagu by claiming that Jamma Bane lands belong to the government.
A circular issued by Revenue Department on February 11, 2010, has stated that all “Bane” lands belong to the Government and landholders do not have rights over such land in Kodagu.
According to the circular, the Bane lands came under the purview of the Forest Department and could not be granted without the permission of the Government of India.
The issue of the Bane lands went before the Karnataka High Court and a full bench of the Court held in its judgement delivered in October, 1993, that Bane landholders had limited privileges for grazing, supply of firewood and timber for the domestic and agriculture purposes, but had no right to exploit the trees for commercial purposes, unless the holder had paid full timber value to the government. The Court also held that the land-owner had no right in the sub-soil.
Way back in October, 2006, the Revenue Department had issued a circular which stated that holders’ rights over “Bane” lands were limited and no conversion of these lands would be allowed. Applications for conversion which had been granted should be annulled.
A clarification was issued in January, 2007, stating that such restrictions would not apply to “redeemed Bane” land in the district, for which the owner would have paid the value of land and trees to the Government.
There was an agitation in Kodagu last year which was spearheaded by the Bane Hakku Rakshana Samiti and Kodagu Asthitva Horata Samiti. The Jamma-holders protested against the circulars and demanded their revocation.
The time has come to review the Jamma tenure and strengthen the institution. In the past, Karnataka politicians have threatened to scrap the Jamma tenure on the contention that the land belonged to the government. Such ignorant announcements would only encourage forces that are fighting for a separate Kodagu state.
Instead of issuing frequent circulars, the government should enact a legislation to deal with the Jamma tenure to the satisfaction of the Kodagu people.