Pressure on farmland
by nitin support Wednesday, February 05, 2014
On the face of it, relaxing FDI norms may appear to be a rational step, but in the absence of a clear-cut land use policy and plans, it will hasten unrestricted acquisition and unplanned conversion of farmland and lead to hoarding of land. In 2013, the Ministry of Rural Development published a draft National Land Utilisation Policy. It convincingly argued that the shrinkage of per capita ownership of agricultural land and the demand to produce more food — 245 million tonnes in 2013 to 307 million tonnes in 2020 — necessitates the protection of fertile land. The National Policy for Farmers, announced in 2007, insisted that the government conserve productive land and allow any change in use only under “exceptional circumstances.” These two policies make no distinction between foreign and local investment. The government has not acted on a recommendation to revive land use boards, which could provide guidelines to State governments. Nor has it implemented the idea of delineating and integrating land utilisation zones under the development plans. These measures are necessary to map the availability of land and coordinate demands for it. It is imperative to correct any institutional deficiencies and strengthen local level land-management plans to ensure an orderly process of urban development and prevent detrimental effects on agriculture and environment.
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