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Chapter # 40. Optimizing the Use of Land Resources

Optimizing the Use of Land Resources-Ensuring that land markets function smoothly, through efficient allocation of land across uses, provision of secure property rights and titles, and clear and consistent regulations around the operations, leasing and sale of land are critical for India to achieve and sustain high economic growth. To this end, the following goals have to be achieved by 2022-23:

  • Legalise and ease land leasing.
  • Consolidate fragmented plots of farmers to enhance efficiency and equity.
  • Create a digitized and integrated land records system that is easily accessible in all states.
  • Increase efficiency in the management of forest land.
  • Convert waste and fallow land to productive uses.
  • Strengthen property rights, especially community rights over forest land.

Current Situation

As measured by the land-to-population ratio, India is one of the most land scarce countries in the world. Agriculture accounts for the bulk of land use although the sector contributed only 17.45 per cent of value added to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. There has been a sharp fall in the average farm size from 2.28 ha in 1970-71 to 1.15 ha in 2010-11.1

The total recorded forestland in India is 76.4 million hectares, which is about 23.3 per cent of the total geographical area. Although it has more than one-fifth of its land under forest cover, Indian forests contribute only 6.4 per cent of the demand for wood.2 Property rights over forestlands can be strengthened.

The passing of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act (FRA)), which provides individual as well as community rights over forests and allows local communities/gram sabhas to protect and manage their customary forests on a sustainable basis, is a step forward.

At the same time, there is an imperative need to make land available to meet the needs of a fast expanding economy and rising population with a greater thrust on vertical development.

Constraints

  • Restrictive agricultural tenancy laws: Agricultural tenancy laws passed by various state governments between the 1950s and 1970s are highly restrictive.
  • Conditions on leasing: While the states of Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir prohibit leasing out agricultural land without any exception, states such as Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh allow leasing out only by certain disabled categories of landowners, such as physically and mentally handicapped persons, persons from the defence services, minors, widows, etc.
  • Lack of ease in leasing: In other states, there is no explicit ban on land leasing, but there are restrictive clauses that discourage landowners from leasing out land.
  • High informal tenancy: Due to legal restrictions, many landowners prefer to keep land fallow rather than lease it out, fearing they may lose their land rights for illegally leasing out land. At the same time, as market forces drive land leasing, there is informal tenancy in several places. Informal tenants do not have either security of tenure or access to institutional credit, insurance and disaster relief. As a result, productivity on tenanted land suffers.
  • Small sized land parcels: Landholdings in India are small and highly fragmented, which not only results in diseconomies of scale, but also makes the task of irrigation management and land improvement difficult. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have completed their first round of consolidation, but further sub-division and fragmentation of land have necessitated reconsolidation. The progress in other states is either nil or negligible.
  • Productivity of forestland: There has been no systematic effort to increase the area and productivity of forests on a sustainable basis.One important reason is the lack of human resources. The number of forest officials for management of both timber and non-timber forest resources is lacking relative to the size of forests.
  • Absence of conclusive titling and records: Deficient land records and lack of conclusive land title result in costly litigation and adversely affects investment and economic growth.

Way Forward

  1. Agricultural Land
  • States may consider the Model Land Leasing Act, 2016. Further details on land leasing are given in the chapter on Agriculture.
  • Consolidate smaller plots of land through pooling to enhance productivity. The consolidation of fragmented landholdings is essential to exploit scale economies and increase farm incomes. Pooling the land of willing farmers and organizing them into land shares or joint stock companies will allow farmers to earn dividends based on their equity shares. Farmers will also earn wages/salaries as an employee based on agricultural output.
  1. Increase efficiency around the management of forest land
  • Implement effectively the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in all states to strengthen the property rights of forest dwellers, tribal populations and local communities.
  • Zone land on a priority basis to clearly demarcate forest and revenue lands.
  • Bring more area under agro forestry using wasteland, non-cultivable fallow lands, etc.
  • Revisit the policy on tree-felling. Encourage trees as a resource for farmers especially by easing restriction on certain species of trees. Current restrictions on inter-state and inter-district movement of wood should also be removed.
  1. Updating and modernization of land record systems
  • Beyond creating and maintaining land records, efforts must be made to update and digitize these records in a user-friendly manner.

The National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP), now Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme, aims to develop a well-functioning and transparent electronic land records management system that will provide easy access to all available and relevant information to give a fair comprehensive position of any plot of land to the landowner, concerned officers/agencies and interested persons/entrepreneurs.

This will improve real-time information on land, optimise use of land resources, benefit landowners and prospectors, assist in policy and planning, reduce land disputes and check fraudulent/ benami transactions.

  • While most states have started digitizing their records, all states must have digitized textual as well as spatial records so that they are easily available and verifiable. In this area, commendable efforts have been made by the states of Karnataka and Gujarat. It will also be desirable to link the land record database with banks.
  • Other states should review their progress in terms of digitization and move toward complete and accessible up-to-date records. In due course, states may move towards conclusive land titling.
  1. Initiating Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for wasteland development
  • Cultural wastelands, estimated at about 12 million ha, need to be improved and productively utilized as a potential resource.
  • This can be done either by gram panchayats with financial support from states/union government or through PPPs, with clearly laid down procedures and norms.
  • Strengthen property rights, plan urbanization and prevent land degradation.
  • Define and identify common land, along with details of ownership, control and use rights.
  • Recognize the customary land tenure system including community ownership in tribal areas.
  • Remove encroachments on public land to ensure that land is used efficiently.
  • Free estimated ceiling surplus land of over 1 lakh acres that has been under litigation for several years through speedy disposal of cases.
  • Define and demarcate revenue and forestland, including land used for shifting cultivation.
  • Plan urbanization as per master plans with greater emphasis on vertical growth.
  • Prevent land degradation and soil erosion through policies that promote fertilization and organic farming.
  1. Using land as resource to finance urban development
  • Tools such as land value capture, incentive zoning, town planning schemes, and land-based taxes like land value tax, vacant land tax, land value increment tax, etc., can be used to finance rapid and efficient urbanization.



Chapter # 41. Data Led Governance and Policy Making

Objectives Evidence based policy making should be made integral to the overall governance structure in New India, 2022-23. To achieve this, timely gen

Chapter # 40. Optimizing the Use of Land Resources

Optimizing the Use of Land Resources-Ensuring that land markets function smoothly, through efficient allocation of land across uses, provision of secu

Chapter # 39. Modernizing City Governance For Urban Transformation

Objective  City Governance For Urban Transformation To transform our cities into economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable habitats that p

Chapter # 38. Civil Services Reforms

Objective  civil-services-reforms To put in place a reformed system of recruitment, training and performance evaluation of the civil service to ensur

Chapter # 37. Legal, Judicial and Police Reforms

Objective To ensure the safety and security of citizens and ensure access to effective legal systems and speedy delivery of justice. Current Situation

Chapter # 36. The North-East Region

Objectives The North-East Region (NER) should: Have adequate road, rail and air connectivity, waterways, internet connectivity and financial inclusion

Chapter # 35. Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts

Objective  Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts Achieve balanced development in India by uplifting 115 districts, curre

Chapter # 34. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Other Tribal Groups and Minorities

SCs, STs, OBCs, De-Notified Tribes (DNTs), Nomadic Tribes (NTs) and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs) Objective  To accelerate the socio-economic developm

Chapter # 33. Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Transgender Persons

SENIOR CITIZENS  Objective To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for senior citizens, enabling them to actively participate in econ

Chapter # 32. Gender

Objective  To create an enabling environment, sans institutional and structural barriers. To enhance the female labour force participation rate to at

Chapter # 31. Nutrition

Objectives  Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, achieve the following outcomes by 2022-23, compared to the baseline of 2015-16 (National Family Health Survey-4):

Chapter # 30. Universal Health Coverage

Objectives  On the strong platform of Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY): Attain a coverage of at least 75 per cent of the population

Chapter # 29. Human Resources for Health

Objectives  Achieve a doctor-population ratio of at least 1:1400 (WHO norm 1:1000) and nurse-population ratio of at least 1:500 (WHO norm 1:400) by 2

Chapter # 28. Comprehensive Primary Health Care

Objectives  Under Ayushman Bharat, scale-up a new vision for comprehensive primary health care across the country, built on the platform of health an

Chapter # 27. Public Health Management and Action

Objectives  To revamp radically the public and preventive health system in the nation through the following strategic interventions: Mobilize public

Chapter # 26. Skill Development

Obejctives  For harnessing the demographic advantage that it enjoys, India needs to build the capacity and infrastructure for skilling/reskilling/up-

Chapter # 25. Teacher Education and Training

Objectives There cannot be a quality education system without quality teachers. Therefore, a thorough revamp of the entire ecosystem of teacher educat

Chapter # 24. Higher Education

Objectives  Increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education from 25 per cent in 2016-17 to 35 per cent by 2022-23. Make higher education

23. School Education

Objectives Universal access and retention: o Hundred per cent enrolment and retention at elementary education and secondary education levels; achieve

Chapter # 22. Sustainable Environment

Objective  The objective is to maintain a clean, green and healthy environment with peoples’ participation to support higher and inclusive economic

Chapter # 21. Water Resources

Objectives By 2022-23, India’s water resources management strategy should facilitate water security to ensure adequate availability of water for l

Chapter # 20. Swash Bharat Mission

Objectives The key objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission include: 1. Making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019. 2. Carrying out ext

Chapter # 19.Smart Cities for Urban Transformation

Objectives  Leverage the ‘Smart Cities’ concept in select urban clusters to: Drive job creation and economic growth. Significantly improve effici

Chapter # 18. Digital Connectivity

Objectives Given the relevance of digital connectivity to economic growth and the need to eliminate the digital divide by 2022-23, India should aim to

Chapter # 17. Logistics

Objectives Achieve multi-modal movement of cargo on par with global logistics standards. Reduce the logistics cost to less than 10 per cent of GDP fro

Chapter # 16.Ports, Shipping and Inland Waterways

Objectives  Double the share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways from 6 per cent in 2016-171 to 12 per cent by 2025. Incr

Chapter # 15. Civil Aviation

Objectives Enhance the affordability of flying to enable an increase in domestic ticket sales from 103.75 million in 2016-171 to 300 million by 2022.2

Chapter # 14. Railways

Objectives By 2022-23, India should have a rail network that is not only efficient, reliable and safe, but is also cost-effective and accessible, both

Chapter # 13. Surface Transport

Objectives Increasing the coverage and quality of roads and highways is critical to enhancing connectivity and internal and external trade. By 2022-23

Chapter # 12. Energy

Objectives The government’s on-going energy sector policies aim “to provide access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”. At t

Chapter # 11. Minerals

Objectives Double the area explored from 10 per cent of obvious geological potential (OGP) area to 20 per cent.1 Accelerate the growth of the mining s

Chapter # 10. Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

Objectives  Increase India’s share in global international tourist arrivals from 1.18 per cent to 3 per cent. Increase the number of foreign touris

Chapter # 9. Housing For All

Objectives Provide every family with a pucca house, with a water connection, toilet facilities, and 24×7 electricity supply and access. Build 2.9

Chapter # 8. Financial Inclusion

Objectives Banking for the unbanked  o Bank accounts: Ensuring universal access to bank accounts, which are a gateway to all financial services.  o

Chapter # 7.Doubling Farmers’ Income (III): Value Chain & Rural Infrastructure

Objectives • Transform the rural economy through the creation of modern rural infrastructure and an integrated value chain system. • Leverage the

Chapter # 6.Doubling Farmers’ Income (II): Policy & Governance

Objectives Create a policy environment that enables income security for farmers, whilst maintaining India’s food security. Encourage the participati

Chapter # 5.Doubling Farmers’ Income (I): Modernizing Agriculture

Objectives • Modernize agricultural technology, increase productivity, efficiency and crop diversification. • Generate income and employment throu

Chapter # 4.Industry

Objectives Double the current growth rate of the manufac-turing sector by 2022. Promote in a planned manner the adoption of the latest technology adva

Chapter # 3. Technology and Innovation

Objectives India should be among the top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index by 2022-23.1 Five of our scientific research institutions should

Chapter # 2.Employment and Labour Reforms

Objectives Complete codification of central labour laws into four codes by 2019. Increase female labour force participation to at least 30 per cent by

Chapter # 1 Growth (India @ 75)

Objectives Steadily accelerate the gross domestic product(GDP) growth rate to achieve a target of about 8 per cent during 2018-23 This will raise the

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