Land Reforms

Post-1991 reforms, land became important for industrial and infrastructure as well, along with agriculture. This makes land reforms even more relevant now.

Land Reforms

What is the REWARD Project?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : REWARD Program

Mains level : Not Much

The GoI, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha, and the World Bank have signed a $115 million for the REWARD Project.

What is REWARD Program?

  • REWARD stands for Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development.
  • The project aims to help national and state institutions adopt improved watershed management practices to help increase farmers’ resilience to climate change, promote higher productivity and better incomes.
  • REWARD is being implemented in three to four Indian States.
  • It is proposed as a 6 years Project.

Objectives of the project

  • The outcomes are prevention of soil run-off, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting, and recharging of the groundwater table.
  • This enables multi-cropping and the introduction of diverse agro-based activities, which help to provide sustainable livelihoods to the people residing in the watershed area.


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Land Reforms

India to prepare digital maps of all villages


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SVAMITVA Scheme

Mains level : Land records management

India plans to prepare digital maps of all its 6,00,000 villages and pan-India 3D maps will be prepared for 100 cities to mark a year of the updated geospatial policy guidelines under the SVAMITVA Scheme.

What is SVAMITVA Scheme?

  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village.
  • Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.

Broad Objectives

  1. Leveraging property as a financial asset by the citizens of rural India
  2. Creation of accurate land records for rural planning
  3. Provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India
  4. Serve as a means of reduction in property-related disputes. Facilitate with the determination of property tax
  5. Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS (Geographic Information System) maps that can be used by any department or agency

Features of the Scheme

  • Accurate survey: SVAMITVA Scheme uses the combination of Survey Grade Drones and CORS network (Continuously Operated Reference Stations) to accurately survey large areas in a very short span of time.
  • High resolution: The 1:500 scale maps generated through the drone survey are of very high accuracy i.e., 3-5 cms, which the conventional methodology does not provide.
  • Geo-tagging: Moreover, editable and geo-tagged maps are produced at a fraction of the cost without the need for line-of-sight.
  • Permanent records: These maps facilitate the creation of the most durable record of property holdings in areas with no legacy revenue records.

What are the updated guidelines?

  • The updated guidelines help private companies to prepare a variety of maps without needing approvals from a host of ministries.
  • They aim to make it easier to use drones and develop applications via location mapping.
  • It encompasses the trinity of geospatial Systems, Drone Policy, and unlocked Space Sector will be the hallmark of India’s future economic progress.


Also read:

[Yojana Archive] SVAMITVA Scheme

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Land Reforms

Agrarian reforms should go beyond meeting demands of the agitating farmers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Land reforms


The farmers’ agitation in India has attracted worldwide attention and support.

Story of land reforms in India

  • Being a state subject, various states implemented reforms with varying degrees of effectiveness and equity.
  • Objectives: The objectives were the same: Abolition of feudal landlordism, conferment of ownership on tenants, fixing land ceilings, distribution of surplus land, increasing agricultural productivity and production, etc.
  • However, owing to manipulations in land records, much surplus land was not available for distribution among the landless tillers.
  • Less than one per cent of the total land in the country was declared as surplus.
  • The relevant criteria for land entitlement should have been employment and main source of income.

Change in social structure after land reforms

  • The ex-tenants, after getting land made use of several programmes —Green Revolution technology, bank nationalisation and priority sector lending, urbanisation and expanding urban markets.
  • They cornered a disproportionate share of various subsidies.
  • The tenant-turned-capitalist farmers formed political parties, which produced strong state-level leaders, who controlled state-level planning, fiscal policies and politics.
  • In place of a strong Centre and weak states, came a weak Centre and strong states.
  • Rich farmers have formed strong power blocs, with unquestioned clout and bargaining power, not only in north-western India but also in states like Maharashtra.

Need for agrarian reforms

  • Farmers are seeking legal safeguards against market fluctuations, especially against any downward pressure on agricultural prices.
  • While they welcome every rise in prices, they demand legal protection against price falls, a legitimate stance.
  • Even as agricultural prosperity must be promoted,it should not be just shared between farmers (especially rich ones) and urban consumers, but by all.
  • Farm workers, in particular, must benefit from it.

Reforms for farmworkers

  • Agricultural land should be pooled and equally distributed among farm households.
  • Non-farm households should not be permitted to hold farmland.
  • Land reforms should be a central subject; while agriculture can remain a state subject.
  • Such a programme will empower and enrich marginalised and excluded individuals and social groups.
  • It should be the kernel of a justiciable universal property right that must form an integral/inalienable part of Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.


The right to life is hollow without a right to livelihood. Through an effective land reforms programme, let’s build a prosperous India based on equity and justice.

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Land Reforms

[pib] India Industrial Land Bank (IILB)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India Industrial Land Bank (IILB)

Mains level : Not Much

The GIS Enabled Land Bank is gaining immense popularity.

Try to answer this question in short:

Q.Discuss the benefits of digitizing land records in India.

India Industrial Land Bank (IILB)

  • The IILB is a GIS-based portal with all industrial infrastructure-related information such as connectivity, infra, natural resources and terrain, plot-level information on vacant plots, line of activity, and contact details.
  • It was launched by the Ministry for Commerce and Industry in 2020.
  • Currently, the IILB has approximately 4000 industrial parks mapped across an area of 5.5 lakh hectares of land, serving as a decision support system for investors scouting for land remotely.
  • The system has been integrated with industry-based GIS systems of 17 states to have details on the portal updated on a real-time basis and will achieve pan-India integration by December 2021.
  • In the previous quarter (Apr – Jun 2021) total users were 13,610 out of which 12,996 were unique users with total page views of approximately 1.3 lakh.

Land Reforms

Model Tenancy Act 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Model Tenancy Act

The Union Cabinet has approved the Model Tenancy Act (MTA) to be sent to the States and Union Territories to enact legislation or amend laws on rental properties.

Model Tenancy Act

  • MTA is aimed at opening up of the vacant housing stock for rental housing purposes and helping bridge the trust deficit that exists between tenants and landlords by clearly delineating their obligations.
  • The housing and urban affairs ministry had floated the draft model tenancy law in July 2019.

Major provisions of MTA

(1) Rent Court and Rent Tribunal:

  • To ensure speedy redressal of disputes, the Act calls for establishing a separate Rent Court and Rent Tribunal in every state/UTs to hear appeals for matters connected to rental housing.
  • Only the rent court and no civil court will have the jurisdiction to hear and decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant and matters connected with it.
  • It calls for the disposal of complaints and appeals by the Rent Court and Rent Tribunals within 60 days.

(2) Tenancy Agreements:

  • It also seeks to establish an independent authority in every state and Union Territory for the registration of tenancy agreements.
  • Under the Act, unless otherwise agreed in the tenancy agreement, the landlord will be responsible for activities like structural repairs except those necessitated by damage caused by the tenant etc.
  • On his part, a tenant will be responsible for drain cleaning, switches and socket repairs, kitchen fixtures repairs, replacement of glass panels in windows, doors and maintenance of gardens and open spaces, among others.

For residential and commercial properties

  • The Act will apply to premises let out for residential, commercial or educational use, but not for industrial use. It also won’t cover hotels, lodging houses, inns, etc.
  • This model law will be applied prospectively and will not affect existing tenancies.
  • It seeks to cover both urban as well as rural areas.
  • The Act says that a security deposit equal to a maximum of two month’s rent in the case of residential premises and a maximum of six month’s rent in the case of non-residential premises would have to be paid by the tenants.

How will states implement it?

  • As per the MoU signed under PMAY-U, the states and union territories would legislate or amend the existing rental laws on the lines of the MTA.

Why was a need felt to bring this on?

(1) For a rental economy

  • Without a well-rounded rental policy and the proper implementation of the rental contracts, there was no sound mechanism to resolve tenant-landlord conflicts.
  • Property owners find it challenging to evict tenants if they misuse the property.
  • To steer clear of such complications, such property owners often chose to keep these homes vacant instead of renting them out.

(2) Unattractive rental yield

  • In India, the rental yield for residential property is quite low, even in bigger cities. It is in the range of 1.5% to 3% of the capital values.
  • This has disincentivized people from investing in second or third homes which could be rented out.
  • Often, they also prefer to leave their properties vacant in case they return to India.
  • NRIs avoid leasing their residential properties for fear of squatters and dealing with the legalities of eviction.

How will MTA help?

(1) Unlocking homes

  • It will unlock vacant houses for rental purposes
  • It will enable the creation of adequate rental housing stock for all the income groups thereby addressing the issue of homelessness.

(2) Helping migrants

  • Rental housing is a preferred option for students and migrants.
  • It will balance the rights of both landlords and tenants.

(3) Effective negotiations

  • There is no monetary ceiling under MTA, which enables parties to negotiate and execute the agreement on mutually agreed terms.
  • It will give confidence to landlords to let out their vacant premises, the housing ministry said.
  • The Act also tries to address how a renter can legitimately increase the rent.

(4) Control over encroachments

  • It has proposed limiting the advance security deposits to two months’ rent and has also suggested heavy penalties for tenants who decide to overstay.
  • Those who do may have to shell out double the rent for two months and even four months.

(5) Rights of tenants

  • The landowner cannot cut power and water supplies in case of a dispute and would have to provide a 24-hour notice to tenants to carry out repair work.
  • Should the landlords wish to increase the rent, they will need to provide a three-months notice to the tenants.
  • These measures would go a long way in protecting the rights of a tenant as it regulates the rent hikes that tenants have had to face.

Challenges ahead

While the proposals of the Act have been widely welcomed, their implementation may not be very simple.

(1) Not Binding nature

  • The Act is not binding on the states as land and urban development remain state subjects.
  • Like in the case of RERA, the fear is that states may choose not to follow guidelines, diluting the essence of the Model Act.

(2) Issues over paltry rents

  • Also, the Model Act is prospectively applicable and will not affect the existing tenancies.
  • The repeal of rent control Acts can be governed by political exigencies.
  • This may be a complicated process in cities like Mumbai, where tenants have occupied residential properties in prime areas for absurdly low rents.

Land Reforms

Land record Modernisation in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Hurdles in the creation of updated land record system

Updated land record system could help the landowner in many ways. However, there is a lack of an updated land record system in India. There are several factors responsible for it. The article highlights these factors.

Need for updated land record

  • For a significant section of the rural poor, land is both an asset and a source of livelihood.
  • With livelihoods affected, the importance of land ownership for access to formal loans as well as government relief programmes became even more evident.
  • But the relatively poor availability of clear and updated land titles remains a hurdle.
  • The government of India’s Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DI-LRMP) scheme is the most recent effort in encouraging updating of land record.

Reasons for lack of updated land record data

The National Council of Applied Economic Research made a pioneering effort in this direction by launching NCAER Land Records and Services Index (N-LRSI) in 2020.

Following are the finding of NCAER about the poor state of land records.

  • The dismal state of land records is due to the failure of the Indian administration to evolve from British-era land policies.
  • In addition, land record regulations and policies vary widely across Indian states/union territories.
  • Though DI-LRMP provides a common framework for reporting the progress of land record management by states/UTs, the heterogeneous nature of regulations/guidelines for land record management in India makes the progress non-uniform.
  • One of the major roadblocks in ensuring continuous updation of land records is the lack of skilled manpower in land record departments in states.
  • Another dimension relates to the poor synergy across land record departments.
  • There is a lack of synergy between the revenue department as the custodian of textual records, the survey and settlement department managing the spatial records and the registration department, which is responsible for registering land transactions.
  • The swiftness of the process of updating ownership as the result of the registration of a transaction is commonly known as mutation.
  • The information obtained from all the state/UT sources in this regard revealed that no state/UT has the provision for online mutation on the same day as the registration.

Way forward

  • With poor inter-departmental synergy, aspiring for updated and accurate records will always be a distant goal and states/UTs should take necessary actions to have the appropriate systems in place.
  • The improved system of land records is likely to facilitate the efforts that some states/UTs are making to ease land transactions — like lowering stamp duties by the Maharashtra government.
  • Finally, these efforts are going to be instrumental for the health of India’s rural economy.

Consider the question “How an updated and functional land record system could help transform the rural economy? What are the hurdles in creating the updated land record system?”


The governments need to take measures to remove the hurdles in the creation of a robust land record system so as to help the landowners access institutional channels of credit.

Land Reforms

Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ULPIN Scheme

Mains level : Land records management in India

The Centre plans to roll out the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) Scheme.

ULPIN Scheme

  • The ULPIN scheme has been launched in ten States this year and will be rolled out across the country by March 2022, the Department of Land Resources told the Standing Committee on Rural Development.
  • It would allot a 14-digit identification number to every plot of land in the country within a year’s time.
  • It will subsequently integrate its land records database with revenue court records and bank records, as well as Aadhaar numbers on a voluntary basis.
  • The scheme will enhance the service deliveries to the citizen of the country and will also function as inputs to the schemes of the other sectors like Agriculture, Finance Disaster Management etc.

“Aadhaar number” for Land

  • Officials described it as “the Aadhaar for land”, a number that would uniquely identify every surveyed parcel of land and prevent land fraud, especially in the hinterlands of rural India, where land records are outdated and often disputed.
  • The identification will be based on the longitude and latitude coordinates of the land parcel and is dependent on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps, according to a presentation the Department made to States in September 2020.
  • This is the next step in the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP), which began in 2008 and has been extended several times as its scope grew.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. Aadhaar card can be used as proof of citizenship or domicile.
  2. Once issued, the Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

A cost-effective approach

  • Linking Aadhaar with land records through ULPIN would cost ₹3 per record while seeding and authentication of landowner Aadhaar data would cost ₹5 each.
  • It added that the integration of the Aadhaar numbers with the land record database would be done on a voluntary basis.

Land Reforms

Why does India need Conclusive Land Titling?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Conclusive Land Titling

Mains level : Land records management in India


Land ownership in India

  • In India, land ownership is determined through various records such as sale deeds that are registered, property tax documents, government survey records, etc.
  • Land ownership is broadly defined by access to a land title.  Land Title is a document that determines the ownership of land or immovable property.
  • Having a clear land title protects the rights of the titleholder against other claims made by anyone else to the property.

What is the news?

  • In 2020, even as laws for farm reform and labour code reform were being enacted, the government’s think tank, NITI Aayog, took steps to initiate land reforms.
  • A Model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling was sent to States and Union Territories last June seeking their comments.
  • In September, after many States failed to send in their feedback, the Centre warned that their agreement would be presumed.

What is Conclusive Land Titling?

  • In a conclusive titling system, the government provides guaranteed titles and compensation in case of any ownership disputes.
  • Achieving this will require shifting to a system of registered property titles (as opposed to sale deeds) as the primary evidence of ownership, and having clear and updated land records.

How does the current system work?

  • India currently follows a system of presumptive land titling.
  • This means that land records are maintained, with information on possession, which is determined through details of past transactions.
  • Ownership, then, is established on the basis of current possession. Registration of land is actually a registration of transactions, such as sale deeds, records of inheritance, mortgage and lease.
  • Holding registration papers does not actually involve the government or the legal framework guaranteeing the ownership title of the land.

What will change in the new system?

  • On the other hand, under a conclusive land titling system, land records designate actual ownership.
  • The title is granted by the government, which takes the responsibility for accuracy.
  • Once a title is granted, any other claimant will have to settle disputes with the government, not the titleholder.

Why is conclusive land titling needed?

  • The main advantage is that a conclusive system will drastically lower litigation related to land.
  • According to a 2007 World Bank study on ‘Land Policies for growth and poverty reduction’, land-related disputes accounted for two-thirds of all pending court cases in India.
  • A NITI Aayog study on strengthening arbitration estimated that disputes on land or real estate take an average time of 20 years in the courts to be resolved.

A move for EODB

  • Right now, because land titles are based on transactions, people have to keep the entire chain of transaction records, and a dispute on any link in that chain causes ambiguity in ownership.
  • Once conclusive titling is in place, investors who want to purchase land for business activities will be able to do so without facing the constant risk that their owners may be questioned and their entire investment may go to waste.
  • Land disputes and unclear titling also create hurdles for infrastructure development and housing construction, leading to costly delays and inefficiency.

Multiple benefits

  • In cities, urban local bodies depend on property taxes that can be levied properly only if there is clear ownership data available.
  • In rural areas, the need is even more acute. Access to agricultural credit is dependent on the ability to use the land as collateral.
  • Without being able to prove their ownership of land and access formal credit from banks, small and marginal farmers are often left at the mercy of unscrupulous moneylenders.

What does the model Bill propose?

  • The Bill circulated by the NITI Aayog in 2020 calls for Land Authorities to be set up by each State government, which will appoint a Title Registration Officer (TRO),
  • TRO will prepare and publish a draft list of land titles based on existing records and documents.
  • This will be considered a valid notice to all potential claimants interested in the property, who will have to file their claims or objections within a set period of time.
  • If disputing claims are received, the TRO will verify all the relevant documents and refer the case to a Land Dispute Resolution Officer (LDRO) for resolution.

Major hurdles

  • The biggest challenge is that land records have not been updated for decades, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Land records are often in the name of the grandparents of the current owner, with no proof of inheritance.
  • Unless they are based on updated records, conclusive land titles could create even more problems.
  • Comprehensive village-level surveys with community involvement are a necessary precursor to the land titling process.
  • Relying on current records or even satellite imagery will not provide the same accuracy as actual, on-the-ground, local surveys.

Land Reforms

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

Mains level : Not Much

The Punjab state cabinet has approved the implementation of mission ‘Lal Lakir’.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SVAMITVA Scheme sometimes seen in the news is related to:

Urban Employment/ Land records management/ Child Adoption/ None of these

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

  • ‘Lal Lakir’ refers to land that is part of the village ‘abaadi’ (habitation) and is used for non-agriculture purposes only.
  • The mission is aimed at facilitating villagers to monetize property rights and availing benefits provided by government departments, institutions and banks in all villages across the state.
  • As no record of rights is available for such properties within the ‘Lal Lakir’, the same cannot currently be monetized as per the real value of the property and no mortgages can be created on such properties.
  • There are households within the ‘Lal Lakir’, which do not own property other than the areas within the ‘Lal Lakir’, and are thus at a disadvantage.

An extension to SVAMITVA

  • Under the mission, the right of record of properties within ‘Lal Lakir’ in the villages of the state will be prepared with the cooperation of the government of India under the SVAMITVA scheme.
  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • This will enable mapping the land, households, habitation and all other areas falling within ‘Lal Lakir’.
  • It will go a long way in improving the living standard of villagers and boosting their self-esteem.

Back2Basics: SVAMITVA

  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village.
  • Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.

Land Reforms

Reform land ceiling laws


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Soil degradation: Reasons and impact

Mains level : Paper 3- Land degradation and using land reforms to deal with it

Land ceiling laws, enacted to deal with the problems of a bygone era, remains unchanged even in most of the States. This has given rise to different problems. The article suggests the relaxation of the ceiling acts to deal with the problem of land degradation and water depletion.

Background of the ceiling laws

  •  India implemented land ceiling laws to deal with the ‘zamindars’ and impose landowning limits based on total production value of land—irrigated, grove, orchard, dry, etc.
  • Landholdings were scrutinised at individual and family level, and large farms were discouraged.
  • For most states, the ceiling ratio of dry-to-irrigated land is 3:1.

Issues with the ceiling laws

  • In 2020, State land laws remain unchanged, trapping farm families in a negative ownership trap.
  • As with each generation, the average landholding of individuals reduces.
  • Dropping farm incomes, higher inputs costs, low sale price, soil degradation and water depletion erode production and farm value.
  • A progressive farmer hits production saturation due to limited land.
  • Contract farming has been no consolation either.
  • The result is that the Indian farm size is very small, 86% under two hectares, and is decreasing as the average size of operational holding has declined to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16 versus 1.15 in 2010-11 (Agricultural Census 2015-16).
  • The government is reticent on the Economic Survey’s recommendations to increase land ceiling limits.
  • Recently, Karnataka rescinded land limit reforms.

How to deal with soil degradation and water depletion

  • 30% of India’s land is degraded, bad agri-practices threaten soil health, and water-guzzling crops like paddy, sugarcane, etc, have resulted in a water crisis in many places.
  • States must study soil conservation program of the US, which paid farmers subsidies for soil conservation or allowing land to be fallow.
  • States should incentivise farmers for agro-ecological plantations and agro-forestry by relaxing land ceiling limits for them.
  • State Acts may include organic plantations under exempt categories similar to tea/rubber plantations.
  • Native biodiversity based mixed orchards, from mahua to moringa, can be encouraged and exempted by state governments.
  • Policy change will have benefits—soil and water rejuvenation, increase in farmers’ incomes and new products for the free market.
  • The return of organic matter and biodiversity will sustain farmland productivity.
  • Plus APEDA predicts a $50 billion organic export 2030, but the cherry would be additional carbon credits.
  • If 10% of arable land converts to organic grove land, India will mitigate climate change and pollution.
  • Each hectare with 0.01% humus can store 80,000 litres of water. We need a central policy to bolster this drive.
  • Farmers may take over waste or degraded land, beyond land ceiling limits, and restore land as a carbon sink and produce more nutrition per acre.
  • As farmers will care for these lands, the government’s financial burden to restore wastelands will lessen.

Consider the question “Land degradation threatens India’s future if not dealt with in time. In light of this, examine the reasons for soil degradation and suggest the ways to deal with it” 


As a nation, we have a choice to steer the bigger farms towards agro-ecology or allow industrial farms to take over rural India. The government needs to bring out a fourth Ordinance to free the land for healing the Earth.




Land Reforms

SWAMITVA Scheme to map rural inhabited lands


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Swamitva Scheme, e-Gramswaraj Portal

Mains level : Land records management and its significance for urban and rural planning

The Prime Minister has launched the Swamitva Scheme and e-Gramswaraj Portal & mobile app as a portal to prepare and plan Gram Panchayat Development Plans.

Swamitva Scheme

  • SWAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village.
  • Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.


  • The scheme will create records of land ownership in villages and these records will further facilitate tax collection, new building plan and issuance of permits.
  • It will enable the government to effectively plan for the infrastructural programs in villages.
  • It would help in reducing the disputes over property.

What is e-Gramswaraj Portal?

  • E Gram Swaraj portal is the official portal of central govt for the implementation of Swamitva scheme.
  • By visiting this portal people can check their Panchayat profile easily. It will also contain the details of ongoing development works and the fund allocated for them.
  • Any citizen can create his or her account on the portal and can know about the developmental works of villages.
  • The user of E Gram Swaraj portal can also access all work of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • This single interface will help speed-up the implementation of projects in rural areas from planning to completion.

Land Reforms

[pib] Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Desertification and Land Degradation

Mains level : Various initiatives for water conservation


The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has provided useful information about land degradation in India citing the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas.

Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India

  • Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO has released out an inventory and monitoring of desertification of the entire country in 2016.
  • This Atlas presents state-wise desertification and land degradation status maps depicting land use, process of degradation and severity level.
  • This was prepared using IRS Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) data of 2011-13 and 2003-05 time frames in GIS environment.
  • Area under desertification / land degradation for the both time frames and changes are reported state-wise as well as for the entire country.

Degraded land in India

  • About 29.32% of the Total Geographical Area of the country is undergoing the process of desertification/land degradation.
  • Approximately 6.35% of land in Uttar Pradesh is undergoing desertification/degradation.

Various move for land conservation

  • National Afforestation & Eco Development Board (NAEB) Division of the MoEFCC is implementing the “National Afforestation Programme (NAP)” for ecological restoration of degraded forest areas.
  • Various other schemes like Green India Mission, fund accumulated under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), Nagar Van Yojana etc. also help in checking degradation and restoration of forest landscape.
  • MoEF&CC also promote tree outside forests realizing that the country has a huge potential for increasing its Trees Outside Forest (TOF) area primarily through expansion of agroforestry, optimum use of wastelands and vacant lands.

Various institutions for land conservation

  • Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (IISWC): Bio-engineering measures to check soil erosion due to run-off of rain water
  • Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur: Sand dune stabilization and shelter belt technology to check wind erosion
  • Council through Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal: Reclamation technology, sub-surface drainage, bio-drainage, agroforestry interventions and salt tolerant crop varieties to improve the productivity of saline, sodic and waterlogged soils in the country

Land Reforms

Supreme Court upholds 2018 order on land acquisition


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Issues in land acquisition and dispensing fair compensation

  • The Supreme Court reaffirmed its February 2018 ruling on Section 24 on land acquisition compensation awards given by a three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra in the Indore Development Authority.
  • It also has overruled an earlier co-ordinate Bench ruling in the Pune Municipal Corporation case of 2014 under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Act of 2013.

What is the provision and why it needed interpretation?

  • The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 (2013 Act) replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1894 Act).
  • The new Act provides for higher compensation to those deprived of land by the government for both public and private sector projects.
  • It also mandates consent of a majority of land-owners, and contains provisions for rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • Under Section 24(2) land acquisition made under the old law of 1894 lapses if the award of compensation had been made five years before the new Act came into force, but has not been paid.
  • In such cases, the process will have to be gone through afresh under the new Act, which mandates higher compensation.

Issue over compensation

  • There are cases in which farmers and other land-owners have refused the compensation, leading to delay in the government taking possession.
  • In this situation, the compensation amount is deposited in the government treasury. According to one interpretation, if this is done, the acquisition process is saved.
  • Then again, others contend that such cases will fall under the new Act because compensation has not been paid to the land-owners, and the lapsing clause in Section 24 should be applied.
  • If, through interpretation, a long-pending land acquisition process is closed under the old law and fresh acquisition proceedings started under the new one, the land-owners stand to benefit, but project proponents will have to pay higher compensation.
  • Therefore, the provision concerned is often a subject of litigation.

What happened in the case before the Supreme Court?

  • On January 24, 2014 the court ruled that the acquisition of a piece of land had “lapsed” because the compensation awarded had neither been paid to the landowners/persons interested nor deposited in the court.
  • The deposit of the compensation amount in the government treasury was held to be “of no avail” as it was not equivalent to the compensation being “paid”.
  • Based on this judgment, subsequent cases were decided on the same principle: acquisition that had taken place earlier than five years before the new Act commenced would lapse if compensation amount was not paid to the land-owners or, in cases in which the owners refused to accept compensation, deposited in court.

How was this precedent dealt with in another case in 2018?

  • The same question arose in Indore Development Authority vs. Shailendra. Another Bench did not accept the earlier Bench’s view.
  • On February 8, 2018, the majority, consisting of the first two judges, ruled that the acquisition would not lapse merely because the compensation amount was not deposited in court, but was instead deposited in the treasury.
  • It ruled that the past practice of more than a century, under which the amount was deposited in the treasury, was not taken into account by the earlier Bench.
  • Some provisions and orders that allowed this practice were not placed before that Bench. Further, the land acquisition in that particular case had been quashed by a High Court in 2008.
  • Since it was not a subsisting process, the question under Section 24(2), whether the acquisition lapsed because of non-payment of compensation or non-deposit in the court, did not arise at all.
  • On these grounds, Justice Mishra and Justice Goel overruled the earlier judgment and held that it was per incuriam, that is a verdict passed in disregard of law and, therefore, wrong.

What does the controversy mean for land-owners and project proponents?

  • A ruling that old acquisitions lapse for non-deposit of compensation will be more beneficial to land-owners and farmers as they stand to get higher compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement measures.
  • On the other hand, project proponents feel such an interpretation would mean that those who refused to take compensation, even after it had been fixed and the money deposited in the government treasury, would be taking advantage of their own wrong.

Present ruling

On Acquisition

  • The provision said that in such cases if the physical possession has not been taken “or” the compensation is not paid, the acquisition proceeding is “deemed to have lapsed”.
  • The court held that a land acquisition proceeding under Section 24(2) would only lapse if the authorities have neither taken physical possession nor paid the compensation due to the landowner for five or more years prior to January 1, 2014.
  • For this an “or” in the Section was “interpreted” as an “and”.
  • Further, the Bench held that Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 does not give rise to a new cause of action to question the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition.

On compensation

  • The government if it so wishes would have to initiate “fresh acquisition proceedings” under the new Act of 2013 which provides for “fair-compensation”.
  • The judgment however said compensation would be considered paid if the amount is put in the Treasury.
  • There was no obligation that the amount should be deposited in the court in order to sustain the land acquisition proceedings under the 2013 Act.
  • Thus there is no lapse if possession has been taken and compensation has not been paid. Similarly, there is no lapse if compensation has been paid and possession not taken of the land.

Land Reforms

[pib] Wastelands Atlas of India – 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Wastelands in India

Mains level : Land records management

  • Realizing the importance of the availability of a reliable database on the wastelands of the country, the Union Minister for Rural Development released the Wastelands Atlas – 2019.

Wastelands Atlas – 2019

  • The Department of Land Resources in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space has published Wastelands Atlases of India – 2000, 2005, 2010 & 2011 editions.
  • The new wastelands mapping exercise, carried out by NRSC using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data is brought out as the fifth edition of Wastelands Atlas – 2019.
  • This 2019 Atlas provides district and state wise distribution of different categories of wastelands area including mapping of about 12.08 Mha hitherto unmapped area of J&K.

Need for such Atlas

  • Unprecedented pressure on the land beyond its carrying capacity is resulting into degradation of lands in the Country.
  • Therefore, robust geospatial information on wastelands assumes significance and effectively helpful in rolling back the wastelands for productive use through various land development programmes / schemes.
  • India with 2.4% of total land area of the World is supporting 18% of the World’s population.
  • The per capita availability of agriculture land in India is 0.12 ha whereas World per capita agriculture land is 0.29 ha.

Highlights of the Atlas

  • The changes in wastelands between 2008-09 and 2015-16 have been presented in the Atlas.
  • The effort has resulted in estimating the spatial extent of wastelands for entire country to the tune of 55.76 Mha (16.96 % of geographical area of the Country i.e. 328.72 Mha).
  • During this period 1.45 Mha of wastelands are converted into non wastelands categories.
  • There is a net conversion of 0.84 Mha (0.26%) of different wasteland categories in the country during 2008-09 to 2015-16.
  • A reduction in wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, waterlogged and marshy land, sandy areas, degraded pastures / grazing land and gullied and / or ravinous land.

Land Reforms

Explained: Draft Model Tenancy Act


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Model Tenancy Act

Mains level : Tenancy Laws in India

  • Recently the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach

Provisions of the Model Tenancy Act

  • The Model Act lays down the obligations of tenants and landlords, and provides for an adjudication mechanism for disputes.
  • It is intended to be an Act to balance the interests of owner and tenant by establishing adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to hear appeals and for matters connected to rental housing.
  • Its stated aim is to promote the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and working professionals, mainly through private participation.
  • The Act mandates that no person will let or take any rental premises without an agreement in writing, in both urban and rural areas.
  • Within two months of executing such an agreement, the land owner and tenant are required to intimate the Rent Authority, who will issue a unique identification number to both parties.
  • Agreements can be submitted through a dedicated digital platform.

Tenant and landlord rights

  • The Model Act lays down various rules, including that the security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’ rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent for non-residential property.
  • It lists the kinds of repairs each party would be responsible for, with the proviso that money for repairs can be deducted from the security deposit or rent, as applicable, if a party refuses to carry out their share of the work.
  • The Rent Court can allow repossession of the property by the landlord if the tenant misuses the premises, after being served a notice by the landowner.
  • Misuse of the premises, as defined, includes public nuisance, damage, or its use for “immoral or illegal purposes”.
  • If the tenant refuses to vacate, the landlord can claim double the monthly rent for two months, and four times the monthly rent thereafter.

Why such Act?

  • A/c to the Census 2011 1.1 crore houses are lying vacant.
  • The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing and discourage owners from renting out their vacant houses due to fear of repossession.
  • The Model Act would bring these into the rental market, and would promote the growth of the rental housing segment.
  • One of the potential measures to unlock the vacant house is to bringing transparency and accountability in the existing system of renting of premises and to balance the interests of both the property owner and tenant in a judicious manner.

Expected Outcomes

  • The Model Act, if adopted and enforced by the states, will lead to a better regulated private rental housing market for the middle and higher income segments.
  • In 2015, before the Housing for All by 2022 Mission (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban) was launched, it was decided that 20 per cent of the two crore houses that were to be created should be exclusively for rent.
  • The decision was based on a 2013 report by a Union government Task Force for Rental Housing, which held that affordable rental housing addresses the issues in an even more direct manner than affordable ownership housing.
  • However, when it was rolled out in late 2015, the mission promoted only ownership housing — with no mention of rental stock.

Land Reforms

[pib] Categorization of Farmers


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Land reforms in India

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Land holding categorization in India

Mains level: Improving the condition of Small and Marginal farmers


Operational Land Holding in India                  

  • In Agriculture Census 2015-16, the operational holdings are categorised in five size classes as follows:-


S. No. Category Size-Class
Marginal Below 1.00 hectare
Small 1.00-2.00 hectare
Semi- Medium 2.00-4.00 hectare
Medium 4.00-10.00 hectare
Large 10.00 hectare and above


  • The operational holdings are also classified in three social groups, viz., Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Others.
  • The average size holdings is highest in Nagaland (5.06 ha) followed by Punjab (3.62 ha).
  • Countrywide the average size is 1.08 ha.
  • It has been observed that Small farms are more efficient, especially in cultivating labour-intensive crops or tending livestock, but land holdings are too small to generate sufficient household income.

Refer this image for State-wise average size of operational holdings in the country:

Press Information Bureau

Land Reforms In India: An Unfinished Business

The Traditional Land Reforms

The Britishers in India were not at all keen in adopting progressive land reforms measures for the rural farmers. So, after independence, we adopted several measures to usher in long stalled land reforms.

1. Abolition of Intermediaries

Intermediaries like Zamindars, Talukdars, Jagirs and Inams had dominated the agricultural sector in India by the time the country attained independence. Soon after independence, measures for the abolition of the Zamindari system were adopted in different states.

Reason: This kind of system was exploitative for tenants and Zamindars never invested in agriculture because their rights were not permanent, which ultimately led to low production.

Outcome: Tenants came in direct contact with government, though he continued to pay rent which was very nominal. This was the most successful land reform in the country, but it benefited only one class of tenants, who were owners of land prior to British land revenue system

1. Tenancy Reforms

This reform sought to provide security of tenure to tenants, so that land owners cannot evict them arbitrarily along with regulation of rent. This reform sought to prevent exploitation and giving security of tenure so that they could invest in land. This reform required tenants to legally register with the govt. in order to get protection.

Outcome: This reform was not very successful, except in states of West Bengal and Kerala, because of lack of political will at the state level. Moreover, since landowners were politically active, they didn’t allow the tenants to register with govt. 

3. Ceiling on Land holdings and Redistribution of Surplus land

The third important step of land reforms relates to the imposition of ceiling on land holdings. Ceiling on land holdings implies the fixing of the maximum amount of land that an individual or family can possess.

This reform sought to bring parity in terms of distribution of land through two aspects: one, the fixation of ceiling limit and two, the acquisition of surplus land and its distribution among the small farmers and landless workers. This reform was accompanied by Bhoodan movement, (launched by Acharya Vinoba Bhave)

Outcome: Actually, the limit on ceiling was kept very high and the redistributed land was mostly infertile land

4. Consolidation of Land Holdings

Consolidation of Holdings means bringing together the various small plots of land of a farmer scattered all over the village as one compact block, either through purchase or exchange of land with others.

Reason: The average size of land holdings in India is very small. The size of the holdings is decreasing but number of holdings is increasing over time. This is due to the inheritance laws. If farms are small and scattered, we cannot go for mechanization, etc.

Oucome: Not very successful, because the owners did not had conclusive rights so there was fear among farmers that they may lose land ownership. Moreover, there is mix of fertile and non-fertile land, so it was difficult to get same quality of land.

5. Cooperative Farming

It has been advocated to solve the problems of sub-division and fragmentation of holdings. In this system, farmers pool their small holdings for the purpose of cultivation and reap benefits of large scale farming.

Reason: Economies of scale can reduce input cost

Outcome: This was the least successful land reform in the country due to inconclusive ownership rights.

Current Scenario

Now, the land ceiling cannot be implemented because landholdings are small, but, land consolidation and tenancy reforms are more relevant now.

Market-led Land Reforms

These reforms come into picture after the 1991 economic reforms, which gave private sector larger role to play. Post-1991 reforms, land became important for industrial and infrastructure as well, along with agriculture.

1. Modernization of Land Records

This reform seeks to solve the issue of inconclusive land ownership rights. This includes survey of land holdings in the country and digitization of land records and revenue records, so there is less subjectivity in terms of ownership rights. It is significant reform because it will facilitate land consolidation.

National Land Records Modernization Program –  It was launched in 2008, to modernize management of land records, minimize scope of land/property disputes, enhance transparency in the land records maintenance system, and facilitate moving eventually towards guaranteed conclusive titles to immovable properties in the count.

This will facilitate easy purchase and selling of land.

2. Facilitating Land Leasing

There should be compulsory registration for all the land owners and lease holds. Registration of landowners will ensure security of land ownership. They can lease their land to landless/tenants and settle in urban areas. The idea is that, since there is massive rural-urban migration and those who are well-settled in urban areas can lease their land to their village counterparts.

At present, NITI Aayog is preparing a model agricultural land leasing law, to formalise leasing of agricultural land.

3. Land Acquisition for Public Purpose

In 2013, govt. enacted “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013″, to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land could be acquired forcibly.

There was a big debate on this issue over the last year, when NDA govt. brought an amendment bill, which sought to remove all necessary checks (such as consent clause, social impact assessment, minimum consent requirement, etc) in land acquisition for 5 sectors namely – defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure where central govt. owns land.

Suggested Readings

1. Indian Express: Farmer needs a new deal
2. Indian Express: Land Titling

Published with inputs from Pushpendra
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