Model Tenancy Act: Need and Challenges – Explained, pointwise.
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Model Tenancy Act and circulated it to all States/Union Territories. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had earlier released the draft guidelines in July 2019. The Act aims to bridge the trust deficit between tenants and landlords by clearly delineating their obligations. It aims to create a vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive rental housing market in the country.
However, the success of the act depends upon the ground level realisation of the notified provisions. Further, it is not binding on states as Land is a state subject under List 2 of the Seventh Schedule. Therefore, optimum benefits would be generated only when states adopt the act in letter and spirit.
Salient features of the Model Tenancy Act
- Mandatory Rent Agreement: The act makes it mandatory to create a written lawful rent agreement between the owner and tenant.
- Rent Authority: The Act requires establishing rent authorities in every district to regulate renting of premises.
- Both the landlord and tenant will have to submit a copy of the rent agreement to the district Rent Authority.
- The proposed authority will also provide a speedy adjudication mechanism for the resolution of disputes.
- Tribunal and Courts: It calls for creating dedicated tribunals and courts for dealing with tenancy related disputes.
- Security Deposit: The act puts a cap on the amount of security deposit. It will be a maximum of two months of rent in case of residential premises and six months in case of non-residential premises.
- Subletting: The act bars tenants from subletting the property in part or whole.
- Vacating Rental Premises: It says that if a landlord has fulfilled all the conditions stated in the rent agreement, then the tenant has to vacate the premises.
- If the tenant fails to vacate the premises, then the landlord is entitled to double the monthly rent for the first two months and four times after that.
- Increase in Rent: The rent can be revised according to the terms and conditions mentioned in the agreement. If there is no such agreement, the landowner will have to give a 3 months notice to the tenant before revising the rent.
- Coverage: The Act will apply to premises rented for residential, commercial, or educational use but not for industrial use. It also won’t cover hotels, lodging, etc. This model law will be applied prospectively and will not affect existing tenancies.
Need of the Model Tenancy Act
- Obsolete Laws: The current tenancy regime is governed by the decades-old Rent Control Act, 1948 and its varied versions adopted by the state governments.
- These obsolete laws are more biased towards the tenant and were made with the sole intention of preventing exploitation of tenants by landlords.
- Further, many of the old laws have not amended in over two decades, ensuring that the rent ceiling remains capped at the levels prevalent in the late 90s.
- Institutionalise the Rental Market: Currently, the rental market is largely informal in nature. The rents are raised anytime, summary eviction of tenants is quite common. Sometimes the malicious tenants are seen illegally occupying the rented property. All this would be curtailed by the enactment of the new act as it forbids verbal rental agreements.
- Better Grievance Redressal: The establishment of a rent authority in every district and provision for rent courts/tribunals will enable quick and efficient settlement of disputes. The current process of dispute settlement through traditional courts is very long and expensive.
- Encourage Renting: As per Census 2011, nearly 1.1 crore houses were lying vacant in urban areas across the country. The act gives sufficient rights to landowners, which may encourage greater renting and reduce homelessness.
- Further, the act will encourage the private sector to develop housing projects for rent purposes.
- In India, the rental yield for residential property is quite low, even in bigger cities. It is in the range of 1.5% to 3% of the capital values due to obsolete laws.
- Preventing Unnecessary Financial Burden: The act places a cap of two months on the security deposit. This reduces financial strain on tenants and encourages more renting.
- Currently, the security deposit in Mumbai and Bengaluru can reach 6-8 times the monthly rent.
- Respecting the privacy of the Tenant: The landlords in India have a habit of entering the rented property as per their will. It violates the tenant’s Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. But now a notice of 24 hours needs to be given before entering.
- Minimise creation of Unauthorised Colonies: As renting would be made safer and easier, therefore people would be disincentivized to live in slums and unauthorised colonies.
Challenges with the Model Tenancy Act
- Non-Binding nature: Land and Urban Development is a state subject. The states may or may not adopt the proposed law, as done by them in the case of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act.
- Prospective effect: The new model act would have a prospective effect. This means it would be applicable to future disputes only, hence past disputes would continue to linger on for years.
- Inadequate Security Cover: Security Cap for two months may not be enough to cover damages, especially during the last month when tenants adjust their rent in the security deposit.
- Lacunae in the formation of the Act: The act fails to properly define the term ‘habitation’. Further, it fails to mention the penalty if the owner delays in paying back the security deposit. Also, it is altogether silent on sudden leave and license arrangements.
- States must immediately adopt the Model Tenancy act as per their peculiar needs. However, they should refrain from diluting the true spirit of the act like the West Bengal did it with WB HIRA.
- Further, they can allow retrospective application of the act for some specific set of cases in order to expedite the grievance redressal process.
- States will have to invest time and resources to set up rent authorities, rent tribunals and rent courts for effective implementation of the Model Tenancy Act.
The government has laid a good framework that balances the social welfare of tenants and the economic interests of landlords. The states now just need to adopt the Model Tenancy Act as per their peculiar requirements. This will help them in releasing the dream of Housing for All by 2022.
Model Tenancy Act
Present Status: Model Act is enacted and circulated to States
Aim of the Act:
- To create a vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive rental housing market in the country.
- It will address the issue of homelessness by creating adequate rental housing stock for all the income groups. It aims towards the goal of housing for all by 2022.
- Lastly, it will institutionalize rental housing by gradually shifting it towards the formal market.
- The Act will apply to premises rented for residential, commercial, or educational use but not for industrial use. It also won’t cover hotels, lodging, etc.
- This model law will be applied prospectively and will not affect existing tenancies.
Key Features of the Model Tenancy Act:
- The Model Act states that to rent any premises, a written agreement must be signed between the landlord and the tenant. The agreement must specify:
- the rent payable
- the time period for the tenancy
- terms and period for revision of rent
- the security deposit to be paid in advance
- reasonable causes for entry of landlord into the premises, and
- responsibilities to maintain premises.
- The Act requires establishing rent authorities in every district to regulate renting of premises. Authority will protect the interests of landlords and tenants.
- The proposed authority will also provide a speedy adjudication mechanism for the resolution of disputes.
- The act puts a cap on the amount of security deposit. It will be a maximum of two months of rent in case of residential premises and six months in case of non-residential premises.
- Currently, this amount differs from one city to another. For instance, in Delhi, the deposit is usually two-three times the monthly rent, but in Mumbai and Bengaluru, it can be over six times the monthly rent.
Increase in Rent:
- The rent can be revised according to the terms and conditions mentioned in the agreement.
- If there is no such agreement, the landowner will have to give a notice in writing to the tenant, three months before the due date of revised rent.
Vacating Rental Premises:
- The act has provided a mechanism for vacating the premises. It says that if a landlord has fulfilled all the conditions stated in the rent agreement – giving notice, etc., then the tenant has to vacate the premises.
- If the tenant fails to vacate the premises on the expiration of the period of tenancy or termination of tenancy, then the landlord is entitled to double the monthly rent for two months and four times after that.
Entering of Rental Premises:
- Every landlord or the property manager may enter the rented premises in certain conditions. Like he/she needs to serve a notice, in writing or through electronic mode, to the tenant at least twenty-four hours before the time of entry.
- Under the Model Act, sub-letting is prohibited unless allowed through a supplementary agreement.
Note: Model acts are not binding on states. They merely suggest provisions that either can be accepted as it is by states or with modification. States may also completely ignore these acts. Furthermore, Land is a state subject and only states can legislate to regulate the housing market.
West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA) is Unconstitutional: SC
Synopsis: The court struck down the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017 as unconstitutional. The court also clarified that the legislations by the Parliament and the state government are on the concurrent list.
The central government enacted the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act to regulate the Real Estate sector in India. West Bengal government also enacted a parallel Act known as the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017. Recently the Supreme Court held the West Bengal legislation Unconstitutional.
Background of both legislations:
Contracts and the transfer of property falls under the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule.
- In 1993 the West Bengal government enacted the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act on the above two subjects.
- But, to bring transparency and safety in the market for consumers of residential and commercial projects, the Central government enacted RERA in 2016. With the enactment of RERA, the 1993 Act was repealed.
- In the same year, West Bengal notified the draft Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2016.
- Instead of finalizing the rules the state government went ahead and enacted West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) in 2017.
- Forum for Peoples Collective Efforts filed a case against the State of West Bengal regarding the WB HIRA
Recent Supreme Court Judgement on West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act:
The Supreme Court held in Forum for Peoples Collective Efforts v. State of West Bengal case held that the WB HIRA was unconstitutional. Further, the court also mentioned the following things.
- Both the statutes refer to the same subjects (contracts and the transfer of property) in the concurrent list.
- Article 254 (2) allows for a conflicting State law on a concurrent list subject to prevail over a central law if it receives the assent of the President. But the WB HIRA neither reserved for the consideration of the President nor the Presidential assent was obtained.
- The court also held that if any areas have been left out in the central legislation, the state legislatures can provide cognate(related) legislation. Such State legislation can incidentally deal with the provisions of Central legislation. But, The HIRA encroaches upon the authority of the Parliament.
- But in the case of clause-by-clause comparison between the two laws, the court observed that 95 to 98%, the WB HIRA is a complete copy-paste of the RERA. This is an attempt to establish a parallel regime by the State government.
- Furthermore, the court also observed that in a few critical aspects, WB HIRA is in direct conflict with RERA.
- The court also observed that there was a “doctrine of repugnancy” between WB-HIRA and RERA. (Repugnancy – inconsistency or contradiction between two or more parts of a legal instrument.) Such as,
- WB HIRA has failed to incorporate valuable institutional safeguards
- The WB HIRA does not have provisions intended to protect the interest of homebuyers
- The court observed these repugnancies of the state legislature as against the public interest.
- The court also elaborated on the tests of repugnancy. The three tests of Repugnancy as stated by the court are
- Where the provision of State legislation is directly in conflict with a law enacted by Parliament. In such cases, compliance with one is impossible along with obedience to the other.
- The second test of repugnancy is based on the intent of Parliament to occupy the whole field(contracts and the transfer of property) covered by the legislation.
- The subject of the legislation enacted by the State is identical to Parliament, then does the State law enacted prior or later to the central law.
- Since the State law is completely repugnant to the Central law, it was constitutionally impermissible
The court based on the above explanations struck down the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017, as unconstitutional. Further, the court also held that striking down the present law will not result in the revival of the 1993 WB HIRA. This is because the 1993 Act was repealed after the enactment of RERA.
The Court also clarified that the striking down of WBHIRA will not affect the sanctions permissions granted prior to the delivery of the judgement.
Source: The Times of India
Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) Scheme
What is the News? The Department of Land Resources informs the Standing Committee on Rural Development about the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) Scheme.
About Unique Land Parcel Identification Number(ULPIN) Scheme:
- The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number(ULPIN) scheme was launched in 10 States in 2021. It will roll out across the country by March 2022.
- Key Features of the Scheme:
- Firstly, under the scheme, authorities issue a 14-digit identification number to every plot of land in the country.
- Secondly, also called the “the Aadhaar for land”, it is a unique number to identify every surveyed parcel of land. It will prevent land fraud, especially in rural India where proper land records are not available.
- Thirdly, the longitude and latitude of a land parcel will be the basis for its identification. It will depend on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps.
- Fourthly, the land records database will gradually integrate with the records of revenue courts and bank on a voluntary basis.
- Significance: The scheme might also be the next step in the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme(DILRMP). It began in 2008.
Benefits of the Scheme:
- Thus, the single source of information can authenticate the ownership and in turn, it can end the dubious ownership.
- The scheme will also help to identify the government lands easily and protect the land from dubious land transactions.
Source: The Hindu
Importance of Land Record Modernisation
Synopsis: The importance of Land Record Modernisation became more evident during the pandemic. For access to formal loans and government relief programs, land records are important. However, the poor availability of clear and updated land titles remains a problem.
The land is both an asset and a source of livelihood for poor people in rural areas. Many informal jobs in the urban areas were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This resulted in reverse migration, leading to greater demands for household resources in rural areas.
How the government is improving the Land Record Modernisation?
- The government of India’s Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DI-LRMP) scheme is the most recent effort to update land records.
- The poor state of land records is due to the failure of the Indian administration to evolve from British-era land policies.
- Further, the Land record regulations and policies vary widely across Indian states/union territories.
- DI-LRMP provides a common framework for reporting the progress of land record management by states/UTs. But the diverse nature of regulations/guidelines for Land Record Modernisation management in India makes the progress non-uniform.
Observations by NCAER Land Records and Services Index:
- NCAER(National Council of Applied Economic Research) made an innovative effort by launching NCAER Land Records and Services Index (N-LRSI) in 2020. The index evaluates states’ performance on digitisation and quality of land records.
- States/UTs have made various efforts to make improvements in various parameters of the N-LRSI index. These improvements are clearly recorded in the N-LRSI 2021 findings.
- Bihar jumped from the 23rd to 8th position in the index. It achieved significant progress in the digitisation of maps, textual records and the registration process.
Challenges in land records pointed out by the N-LRSI study:
- Firstly, The lack of skilled manpower in the departments of land records. It is one of the major barriers in ensuring regular updating of land records.
- Secondly, the N-LRSI study has brought out poor cooperation across land record departments. These are,
- Revenue department as the custodian of textual records,
- The survey and settlement department managing the spatial records
- The registration department is responsible for registering land transactions.
- Thirdly, the information from the sources reveals that no state/UT has the facility for online modification of records on the same day as the registration.
- Fourthly, there is a weak linkage between the revenue department and the survey and settlement department. This creates a huge difference between the land area reported by the textual and spatial record. This can increase the chances of legal disputes over the definition of boundaries and the extent of a land plot.
All these challenges create hindrances in achieving updated and accurate land records.
Suggestions to improve Land records in India:
- Strengthening of various institutions concerned with Land records. It will achieve the desired quality of land records. This can be attained by removing structural rigidities in the system.
- The easing of the land transactions can also be tried for improvement in land records. For example, Maharashtra lowering stamp duties to meet its increasing demand for housing, infrastructure. These efforts are going to be helpful for the health of India’s rural economy.
Source: The Indian Express
Conclusive land titling system in India and its challenges – Explained pointwise
Table of contents:
At present in India, ownership of land is determined by registered sale deeds, property tax receipts, and survey documents. In this system, the buyer is responsible for proving ownership of the land.
Recently the NITI Aayog proposed to change this system by implementation of Conclusive Land Titling system. NITI Aayog also framed a Model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling for this purpose. But the states are reluctant to implement it. Thus, in this article, we will analyse this new proposed model and the issues associated with it.
What is a Conclusive Land Titling system?
It is a type of land titling method followed in countries such as Australia, England, Canada, etc.
In this land titling method, the State (the government) will provide a guarantee on land titles. The government will also include provisions for compensation in case of any dispute of land title between two parties.
How it is different from the present one?
India at present follows the Presumptive land titling method. The difference between the two is mentioned in the following table:
Development towards Conclusive Land Titling in India:
- Currently, land records systems in the country represent the Zamindari and Ryotwari models.
- The importance of updating land records was emphasized long back in the First Five-year Plan (1951). But the land records saw little improvement.
- In 1989, the D.C Wadhwa committee (single-member committee) studied the land records and released a report titled “Guaranteeing Title to Land”. In that, it mentioned the importance of conclusive titles to the people.
- Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme was launched in India, in 2008 with the objective of digitization of land records. This also highlighted the importance of moving away from the current Presumptive land titling to Conclusive land titling.
- In 2011, the government drafted a Model Land Titling Bill 2011. The bill asked the state government to move towards Conclusive titling. But only Rajasthan and Maharashtra enacted the law and took a few steps.
- In 2020, the NITI Aayog released the model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling. This was sent to the States and Union Territories for getting their feedback. However, many States failed to send their feedback. Following which the Centre recently warned that the model bill would be concluded.
How the Model Bill aims to implement Conclusive Land Titling in India?
The draft model bill aims to achieve Conclusive land titling in the following ways:
- The Model Bill provides for setting up of Land Authorities in each State. These authorities will be responsible to appoint a Title Registration Officer (TRO).
- TRO’s will prepare and publish a draft list of land titles based on existing records and documents.
- Based on the draft list, potential claimants interested in the property will have to file their claims or objections within a fixed time period.
- Once disputes are received, the TRO will verify all the relevant documents and refer the case to a Land Dispute Resolution Officer (LDRO) for resolution.
Note: The disputes currently pending in courts cannot be resolved in this way.
- Once, the disputes are resolved, the Land Authority will publish a Record of Titles.
- If there are any ambiguities in Record of Titles or regarding the decisions of the TRO and the LDRO, it can be challenged before Land Titling Appellate Tribunals within 3 years.
- After, three-years, entries in the Record of Titles will be considered conclusive proof of ownership. Further, appeals can only be taken up in High Courts.
What is the need to shift towards Conclusive Land Titling?
Shifting from Presumptive land titling to Conclusive Land Titling has the following advantages.
- A Conclusive land titling system will significantly reduce land-related litigation. A World Bank study from 2007 states that land-related disputes account for two-thirds of all pending court cases in the country.
This is because, in the current system, people have to maintain the entire chain of transaction records (sale deeds, records of inheritance, mortgage, and lease).
- To increase the investment in many sectors: Currently, long pending court cases diminish the prospects for investment in many sectors of the economy. In Conclusive titling, the businesses will be guaranteed and investments will be secured. This can avoid large delays and inefficiency in infrastructure projects.
- To improve the revenue of the local body and the government. Urban local bodies depend heavily on property taxes. Property tax can be levied properly only if there is clear ownership data available.
- Conclusive Land Titling provides better security to farmers. Unclear titles make it difficult to prove land ownership. The land is used as collateral by farmers for accessing formal credit.
- Improper records result in Benami transactions. These transactions are used for the investment of black money in the country.
What are the difficulties?
The introduction of a Conclusive Land Titling system can be feasible with proper land records. But, there are many challenges associated with the land records in India. They are,
- Land is a State subject in India. The individual States are responsible for the proper implementation of land records. In the absence of a uniform system, existing land records are maintained in different scripts and languages in different States.
- Land records are not updated for decades, especially in rural and semi-urban areas. Conclusive land titles can create more problems if the land records are not updated.
- In India, the majority of the land records are in the name of the grandparents of the current owner, with no proof of inheritance.
- Apart from that, forgery, cases of fraud, and misconduct surrounding land ownership are also there in India. This increases the ownership disputes reaching courts and overburden the judicial mechanism.
India needs to move towards proper land records, then only we can shift towards a Conclusive Land Titling system. The government can follow suggestions like,
- Implementing the recommendation of the Committee on State Agrarian Relation in 2007. The committee recommended,
- A comprehensive village-level survey with community involvement is required to solve the land-related problems.
- Providing adequate skill training to the local government employees.
- Further, it suggested that the government should use technologies such as GIS, GPS, and satellite imagery to update land records.
- Further, the government needs to integrate the cadastral maps (Comprehensive land maps) with textual data of land. This can be performed during the sale, inheritance, purchase, gift, mortgage, and tenancy of a property. This will ensure complete information with relation to land is available and updated.
- Apart from that, the government also needs to amend laws across the Centre and States to ensure uniformity in land records.
In conclusion, the introduction of a Conclusive Land Titling system is an ambitious step. However, to avoid further complexities the practical difficulties involved in its implementation has to be taken care of.
New land allotment policy of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)
Why in News?
A new policy has been approved for Jammu and Kashmir. The policy focus on the allotment of land to industrial entrepreneurs.
What are the objectives of the policy?
- To address various land-related issues that are creating hurdles in the industrial development of Jammu and Kashmir. It will be done by a framework to regulate zoning of industrial areas, project appraisal, and evaluation.
- To promote inclusive growth through sustainable industrialization and employment generation. It also includes provisions of a fair and transparent mechanism for land allotment for industrial use.
Key Features of the Policy:
- Land Allotment: The policy covers allotment of land to industrial entrepreneurs, health institutions/ medi-cities, and educational institutions/Edu-cities.
- Zoning of Areas: It proposes zoning (divides land into areas called zones) of industrial areas at block and municipality levels. Zoning will be done after taking into account existing levels of industrial development in the area, its location, and level of urbanization.
- Committees: The policy provides for the constitution of;
- Divisional Level Project Appraisal and Evaluation Committees to scrutinize applications received for allotment of industrial land within 30 days
- Apex Level Land Allotment Committee, High-Level Land Allotment Committee, and Divisional Level Land Allotment Committee to decide and allot industrial land worth Rs 200 crore, Rs 50-200 crore, and up to Rs 50 crore respectively. The time limit for allotment is within 45 days.
- Duration of Allotment: The land will be allotted to the investors on lease for a period of 40 years initially, which could be extended to 99 years.
- Cancellation: The allotted land will be cancelled in the following cases.
- Failure of the investor to take effective steps within the stipulated time of two years
- Failure of the industrial unit to come into production within three years
- Violation of provisions under the lease deed and
- Non-cooperation of an enterprise for a period of five years.
- Renting out Allotted Land: The policy allows renting out of 60% of the built-up area of a business enterprise for setting up an ancillary industrial enterprise through a tripartite agreement.
Source: Indian Express
The state of farmers
Context: While the farmers demand a repeal of the three new farm laws, the government insists the reforms are “farmer-friendly”.
What is the aim and impact of the new farm laws?
- Aim of farm laws: The farm laws seek to introduce the neoliberal notion of “choice” into the production and sale of agricultural produce through deregulation. It tries to give a push to private traders and agricultural corporations.
- Impact on small farmers: Small and marginal farmers, a section that constitutes 85 per cent of farm landholdings are likely to be worst hit, with the lowest bargaining power and highest level of precarity.
What are the problems faced by farmers?
- The scale of land acquisition: It has increased exponentially since the nineties, with the estimate for all displaced people up from approximately 25-30 million by 1990 to 60 million by 2004.
- Policy framework: A policy framework shaped by the needs of capital which needs land but not the people, creates a system that renders survival cultivators unnecessary or surplus to development initiatives of the state.
- Survival cultivation: Where many small and marginal farmers engage in survival cultivation, sale of agricultural produce is limited to the need for cash or an assured surplus.
- In 2018-19, the consumption of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertiliser in Maharashtra, UP, Assam and Jharkhand was 125.95 kg/hectare (ha), 170.09 kg/ha, 73.69 kg/ha and 59.79 kg/ha respectively (Agricultural Statistics at a Glance, 2019).
- The state-wise scale of indebtedness of agricultural households: The All-India Report on Agriculture Census 2010-11 shows the level of indebtedness toebtedness to be 57.3 per cent in Maharashtra , 43.8 per cent in UP , 17.5 per cent in Assam and 28.9 per cent in Jharkhand.
- These figures are representative of the increased cash dependence of agriculture in commercially significant states as Maharashtra and UP, and a significantly lower level of debt in states like Jharkhand and Assam.
- Land arrangements: Several informal land arrangements are being stripped away constantly, leaving subsistence peasants more dependent on cash for meeting everyday requirements of life and propelling them deeper into an unequal market that constantly reproduces their position at the margins.
Mention a few state policies that seeks to establish powers of state over land?
- The new Land Acquisition Law 2013: It has introduced significant changes from the colonial 1894 Law, it serves to firmly keep in place the principle of eminent domain by which the state retains excessive powers over land and, thereby, facilitates the process of land acquisition in the long run.
- New strategy: The constant expansion of forest lands is itself the latest strategy to bypass mandated procedures for land acquisition under the new Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.
- The latest Environmental Impact Assessment Draft Notification 2020: It seeks to facilitate ease of doing business by clearing “obstacles” for businesses such that permissions are simpler to get and grievances harder to file.
For a healthy farm sector, the state must strengthen and protect the position of the cultivator.
Consolidation of land holdings
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: Gs3: Land Reforms in India
Context: In the last three decades, the issue of land and consequently land reforms was an important topic.
The elements of land reforms:
- The abolition of intermediaries.
- Regulation and stability of the tenurial system
- Ceiling on land holding.
- Consolidation of land holdings.
Background of land reforms:
- After Independence, compulsory consolidationwas replaced by voluntary consolidation in almost all states. However, considering its utility, the National Commission of Agriculture recommended that consolidation schemes should be made compulsory across the country.
- Land consolidation:
- As much as 120 lakh Ha had been consolidated by the end of the Fourth Plan, while 440 lakh Ha of land was consolidated by the end of the Fifth Plan.
- Punjab and Haryana have almost completed the work of consolidation of landholdings.
- The Sixth Five Year Plan had targeted the completion of consolidation in 10 years. During its period, only 64.75 lakh hectare of land was consolidated. Progress was not uniform across the states.
- Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and other southern states have not even begun the task.
- Now, structure and composition of the economy changed, the importance of agriculture and consequently of land-related matters went down.
- In the last 15 years, land acquisition and computerisation of land records have become more important issue than land reforms.
- Farmer crisis: for instance, Rural debt waivers, farmers’ agitations, farmers’ suicides, migration and reverse migration in the wake of COVID-19.
- Fragmentation of land: The average holding size in 1970-71 was 2.28 hectares (Ha), which has come down to 1.08 Ha in 2015-16. The holdings are much smaller in densely populated states like Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala.
- Uneven and skewed distribution:Nagaland has the largest average farm size, Punjab and Haryana rank second and third respectively.
- Rise in number of holdings:the number of holdings is rising at almost the same pace as the population. These holdings are not in one chunk but in multiple sub-parcels located at different places in a village.
- Poor investment: fragmentation of land leaves no incentive for the farmer to invest in the farm land due to lack of productivity.
- Subsistence farming:Farmers are unable to raise plantations because the size is not substantial for them to invest in ancillary works like drip or appoint a caretaker.
- Difficult to dispose of such fragmented land:As there are number of landholders, that’s why buyers do find it attractive to buy. It is difficult to deal with so many landholders and to arrange necessary infrastructure like road, water supply and electricity.
- Fragmentation of land and difficulty in disposing of such land leads to poor investment in rural areas.
Significance of land consolidation:
- It helps farmers to make investments, enabled roads and irrigation channels to be laid.
- Reduced litigation.
- Allows farmers to formalise informal partitions
- Reduced inequity in landholdings to some extent.
- Enhance farmer’s autonomy.
- Increased production and productivity.
- Promote rural investment.
- Non-farm sector employment contributes about 60 per cent to the household income in rural areas. Therefore, policies conducive for the promotion of sectors such as small industries, education, health and other service enterprises need to be made.
- Encourage land consolidation:consolidated holdings would make it easy for the government or private enterprises to acquire land, and for public agencies to lay the road, pipeline or electric supply.
- Land leasing: It is also proposed by NITI ayog. It should be adopted on a large scale to enable landholders with unviable holdings to lease out land for investment, thereby enabling greater income and employment generation in rural areas.
- Promote use of technology: information technology, drone technology, and land record digitisation can be used to consolidate land.
Indian Agriculture Reforms
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 3 – Land reforms in India.
Context- Farmers and state governments across India don’t want APMCs.
How many farmers are there in India?
- Based on the self- declaration- Almost 111 million farmers are registered for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi(PM-Kisan). The eligibility criteria for this scheme are-
- Registration requires the family to hold cultivable land, duly registered.
- If a family member is relatively privileged (MP/MLA, pension exceeding Rs 10,000, an income-tax payer, or a professional), one can’t opt for the PM-Kisan benefits.
- For any false declaration there are penalties also.
Therefore, 111 million is a lower bound figure. Other than some categories being barred from PM-Kisan benefits, not every eligible farmer has necessarily registered for PM-Kisan.
- Based on Agriculture Census- In India, in every five years people have an agriculture census.
- 2010-11 – There was 138 million holdings.
- 2015-16 – It gave 146 million holdings which is a result of further fragmentation.
If the agricultural landholding is conditional on being a farmer, apart from a possible further increase since 2015-16, 146 million is possibly the upper bound.
- Based on various acts-
Every definition of “farmer” is not contingent on the ownership of land.
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001– Where status as a farmer depends on cultivating land (or supervising cultivation), not owning it.
- Draft National Policy for Farmers, 2006–That issue was also flagged by the National Commission on Farmers, such as in the Draft National Policy for Farmers (2006), where “farmers” included agricultural labourers, sharecroppers and tenants and so on. When talking and generalising about farmers, it is necessary to specify which set one has in mind.
What is the quality of land records in various states when land is a prerequisite for defining someone as a farmer?
- The Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms, 2009-
- Absence of land holding data – The last extensive survey and settlement in India was conducted two to three decades prior to Independence which means in the 1920s.
- Department of Land Resources has a Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) –
- DILRMP is often about digitising/modernising existing land records.
- The DILRMP dashboard tells that digitisation of land records have been completed in only 11.5 per cent of villages.
For Example- Gujarat, West Bengal and Tripura score high on this (over 90 per cent). Punjab’s track record is 0 per cent.
What is 2015-16 Agricultural Census report?
According to the Agricultural Census report 2015-16 –
- Highest operated areas-The highest operated areas are in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP and MP, in that order. 86.1 per cent of holdings are small and marginal (less than 2 hectares) and only 0.6 per cent is large (more than 10 hectares).
- FCI procurement-There is increasing FCI procurement of rice from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and of wheat from MP, UP and Rajasthan.
- E-NAM(National Agricultural Market) has more coverage from MP, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat than from Punjab or Haryana.
The face of Indian agriculture has changed and is no longer what it was in the Green Revolution days, centred on Punjab, Haryana and western UP. With realistic input costs, that form of agriculture is no longer viable in those Green Revolution tracts.