Representatives of political parties, NGOs, farmers and farmhands differed on two important issues pertaining to national land reforms, agricultural land ceiling and imposing restrictions on land holdings by temples, Wakf boards and trusts.
At a meting organised on the Draft National Policy on Land Reforms, 2013 by the revenue department here Sunday, Left parties favoured in-toto implementation of the proposed reforms and restriction of land holdings by temples and other such institutions, while other parties opposed any changes to the Land Ceiling Act.
Briefing mediapersons later, revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy said several issues pertaining to lands and land reforms were discussed at the meeting.
They include computerisation of land records, holding grama sabhas on land alienation, distribution of land to the landless and pattas to women, rules of land allocation to corporates, facilitating finance from banks and other institutions to tenant farmers, government subsidies.
‘’The participants differed on two important issues, one being agricultural land ceiling. The proposed ceiling is 5 to 10 acres in case of wetlands and 10 to 15 acres in case of drylands. Left parties and their farmers’ wings supported the new ceiling while others wanted us to oppose it, saying that effective implementation of the Land Ceiling Act of the ‘70s would do. ‘Given the differences in soil nature and availability of irrigation waters, how can one equate the lands of different regions and decrease land ceiling?’ they asked. We agree with that opinion.’’
The other issue that got divergent views was ceiling on the lands of endowments, wakf and such other organisations. ‘’As most of the lands are donated, we felt that the government cannot intervene and impose restrictions,’’ he said and added that agreed, in principle, to revive the land reforms commissioner post.
Reddy said the government had agreed to 90 percent of the recommendations made by the Koneru Ranga Rao committee on land reforms and rejected only 12. ‘’The government distributed 78 lakh acres of lands to the landless poo.’’
Raghuveera said land holdings were increasing but their size was decreasing. In 1995-96, there were 1.06 crore land holdings which increased to 1.44 crore in 2005-06. ‘’On an average, a person’s landholding in the state is about 3 acres. Of the 1.20 crore land holders, only 5 lakh are big farmers.’’
He said the state government was ready with 1.30 lakh acres of land for distribution among the landless but a decision on it would be taken when the situation in the state returned to normalcy.
The land reform policy will bring land administration into planned budget, which means the state will get central funds for land administration.