Niti Aayog Panel for Le­gal­is­ing Farm­land Leases

Move to pro­mote agri ef­fi­ciency & equity and help re­duce poverty

The Economic Times - - Economy - Our Bu­reau

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.

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