Hyderabad: Overruling objections by opposition parties and the demand that it be referred to a select committee of the House, the Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday enacted a legislation to further amend the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973.

The amended legislation is aimed at "improving the conditions of poor agriculturists and curbing the concentration of land in the hands of a few people by taking over the ceiling surplus land and distributing the same among the landless poor," the government claimed.

The Opposition parties, however, cried foul and warned the government that the amended law would lead to rise in corruption besides leaving scope for misuse of the Land Reforms Act.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen was the most vociferous in its opposition to the "arbitrary and draconian" legislation. "This law will open a Pandora's box and let corruption grow," MIM senior MLA Virasat Rasool Khan warned.

TDP legislator Palle Raghunatha Reddy said the existing Land Reforms Act did not ensure any tangible benefits to the landless poor.

Lok Satta Party member N Jayaprakash Narayan said the new legislation was in principle good but the danger lay in entrusting unbridled powers to the officials, leaving scope for misuse. He suggested there should be a two-stage process to check misuse of the law and avoid unnecessary litigation.

Members also took strong exception to the suo motu powers to re-open even age-old cases of land ceiling.

(Agencies)