Press note for the meeting on land leasing & land titling

Land related issues such as land leasing, updating and digitization of land records, and land titling are important state issues in need of a fresh look and possible actions by the states. In most cases, the States enacted land-leasing laws in the decades immediately following the independence. However, due one or other reason these laws heavily discouraged leasing and sub-leasing of land. In the longer run, the laws ended up affecting both landowners and tenants adversely. Today, the tenant lacks the security of tenure, which discourages him from making long-term investments in land. He is also deprived of access to institutional credit and likely benefits of crop insurance, relief in event of natural calamity and potential direct benefit transfer of subsidies. The landowner feels a sense of insecurity when leasing land so that she often chooses to leave her land fallow rather than lease it. A transparent land leasing law would allow the potential tenant or sharecropper to engage in enforceable contracts with the landowner, which would benefit both.

In a similar vein, land ownership in the country is presumptive and can be challenged in the court any time. Several experts have argued that a move to a system of conclusive land titles would greatly improve incentives for land improvements and farmers’ access to credit. However, to achieve this, it is necessary to computerize and integrate land records and registration, update surveys and settlement records.

Some states have already moved in the direction of creating transparent land leasing laws while others have made substantial progress towards digitization of land records and their integration of registration system. This work needs to be taken forward.

To discuss these and related issues and to come up with creative solutions, a meeting of Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of Revenue/land was held today under the chairmanship of Dr Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog. The Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand participated in the meeting. Other States were represented by Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary/Commissioner (Revenue/land). The best practices of Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Kerala on land titling, digitization of land records and land leasing were also discussed in the meeting. Representatives of the states generally agreed that land leasing, updating of land records and land titling would be win-win steps for all affected parties and expressed keen interest in making progress on them in the months to come.

It was agreed at the meeting that the Landing Vice Chairperson will appoint a committee of experts to prepare a model land leasing law that the states can adapt to suit their local needs. The NITI Aayog, in consultation with the Department of land Resources will also assist the interested states in moving forward with updating and digitizing land records in accordance with the best practices.

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