NEW DELHI: In a bid to push the ambitious land leasing reform being pursued by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the NITI Aayog has begun drafting amendment bills for each state. The successor of the erstwhile Planning Commission is asking the state governments to follow in the footsteps of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which have changed their existing land titling laws to allow liberal leasing to boost corporate farming, besides helping tenants to avail better farm credits.
“The UP Assembly has passed an amendment to the disability clause which earlier allowed leasing only in the case of land owned by women, disabled, and defence personnel. Now, the clause has been expanded to include any other person engaged in business activities and private or government jobs. Thus, the leasing of the land in UP is now possible for any category of owners,” said Dr T Haque, Advisor in the NITI Aayog. Haque also stated that Madhya Pradesh too has amended its Bataidari Act, which is in line with what the UP Assembly has done, besides doing away with protected tenancy. “We are engaged in hectic parleys with other state governments to change their respective laws in lines with the model land leasing bill brought out by the NITI Aayog. The Odisha government has committed that it will soon pass the amendment,” added Haque.
The think-tank panel in its background to the draft bill had noted that actual farming in the country is done by tenants who in the absence of any lease title fail to get bank credits. “Even when there is damage to the crops on account of unseasonal rains, hailstorm or for any other reason, the compensation is paid to owners of the land, who may be staying in big cities. The real farmers do not get any compensation. Also, the land holding size is decreasing year after year, which discourages corporate farming,” added Haque.
He added that some of the state governments allow leasing of land within the disability clause only for one year which works as an impediment for banks to extend credit. “We are hopeful that the states in the interest of farmers will change their land leasing law soon.”