Home >politics >policy >NITI Aayog to set up expert panel on land leasing law

New Delhi: NITI Aayog will set up an expert committee to prepare a model land leasing law that can be adopted by states according to their respective requirements, the government said in a statement.

The decision was taken at a Monday meeting of chief secretaries and principal secretaries of revenue and land of states that was chaired by Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of NITI Aayog.

The statement said the state officials agreed that land leasing, updating of land records and land titling would be key steps for all affected parties and expressed keen interest in making progress on them in the months to come.

Though many state governments had enacted land leasing laws post-independence, “these laws heavily discouraged leasing and sub-leasing of land", the statement said.

At present, “the tenant lacks the security of tenure, which discourages him from making long-term investments in land. The land owner feels a sense of insecurity when leasing land so that they often chooses to leave their land fallow rather than lease it", the statement said.

“A transparent land-leasing law would allow the potential tenant or sharecropper to engage in enforceable contracts with the landowner, which would benefit both," the statement said.

“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," it said, adding that this work needed to be speeded up.

Similarly, land ownership in the country is “presumptive" and can “be challenged in the court any time", it said adding that several experts have argued that a move towards conclusive land titles would improve incentives for land improvements and farmers’ access to credit.

To reach this point, however, it is necessary to computerize and integrate land records and registration, and update surveys and settlement records, the statement said.

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, the statement said.

“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," it added. N.C. Saxena, a former rural development secretary, was of the view that leasing of land was a good idea provided state governments can regulate the amount of rent charged. It is a market oriented development," he said.

The NITI Aayog meeting comes after a parliamentary panel, constituted in May to iron out differences over the 2015 land acquisition bill that seeks to replace the 2013 land acquisition law, is struggling to forge a consensus. The panel—which was to have presented its report in 21 July, the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament—will now present its report in the winter session due in November-December.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is seeking to amend the 2013 law as it sees the legislation responsible for holding up economic growth. The 2013 law, which had replaced another dating back to 1894, has stringent provisions on gaining the consent of farmers. It also mandates a social impact assessment that industry says prolongs the process of acquisition.

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