Niti Aayog Panel for Legalising Farmland Leases
Move to promote agri efficiency & equity and help reduce poverty
New Delhi: An expert panel has proposed that leasing of land be legalised in India, a measure that the government thinks will promote agricultural efficiency and equity, and help reduce poverty.
The committee, appointed by the government’s premier think tank Niti Aayog, has proposed a model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016. Once the states adopt this Act, it will overrule any other existing law and will be effective from the date of notification by the respective state.
As per the proposed law, landowners will be able to enter into a lease contract with tenants for use of their agricultural land for agriculture and allied activities for a specified period for a consideration based on mutually agreed terms and conditions.
Legalisation of land leasing will lead to transfer of population from agriculture to nonagriculture, the report said. “It would encourage large landowners to lease out land without fear of losing their land ownership rights and invest in non-farm enterprises (with appropriate capital and technology support), which is vital for occupational diversification and 15 rapid rural transformation,” it said.
This will reduce the pressure of population on agriculture and enable small farmers to augment their size of operational holdings by leasing in land, it said.
Agriculture and allied activities will include raising of crops including food and nonfood crops, fodder or grass, fruits and vegetables, flowers, any other horticultural crops and plantation, animal husbandry and dairy, poultry farming, stock breeding, fishery, agro forestry, agro-processing and other related activities by farmers and farmer groups.
Farmer, according to the report, includes a person who owns and cultivates land as well as a person who may or may not own land but cultivates land leased from others while the farmer groups include self-help groups, joint liability groups and farm producers’ organisations. The law proposed by the T Haque-led committee, set up last year under NITI Aayog, has come at a time when the government seems to be making little headway in land acquisition after its repeated efforts to get changes to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 passed in Parliament failed.
Telangana, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh ban land leasing, with exceptions granted to
landowners among widows, minors, disabled and defence personnel. Tenancy has been banned in Kerala but the state has recently permitted only self-help groups to lease land.
Some states including Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam do not ban leasing but the tenant acquires a right to purchase the leased land from the owner after a specified period of tenancy. Only Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and West Bengal have liberal tenancy laws.
Under the proposed Act, leasing of land will ensure complete security of land ownership right for landowners and security of tenure for tenants for the agreed lease period.