The fear of losing right, title and ownership over one’s own land by leasing out, discourages the land owners even when they are themselves unable to cultivate to lease out their parcels of land. This is the cause behind substantive extent of land remaining fallow. The State Revenue laws provide for right to ownership by proving adverse possession for a certain period as prescribed by the actual tiller. The census 2011 reveals, that the extent of lease in the country is around 6 per cent. In the absence of a legal provision back-stopping such leasing, most of it is oral and therefore does not entitle the lessee to claim the status of a farmer and access various benefits available fro m the government and credit institutions.
It is further known, that a lot of land remains fallow for many do not opt to offer their piece of land on oral lease. It is, therefore, necessary that lease is legally recognised by enacting a suitable law. However, it should explicitly and emphatically protect the interests of the land owner, in supersession of any other provision of law that may be in force.
The Model Land Lease Act, 2016 prepared and approved by the NITI Aayog offers an appropriate template for the states and UTs to draft their own piece of legislations, in consonance with the local requirements and adopt an enabling Act.
An Act to permit and facilitate leasing of agricultural land, to improve agricultural efficiency and equity, access to land by the landless and semi - landless poor, occupational diversity and for accelerated rural growth and transformation; provide recognition to farmers cultivating agricultural land on lease for enabling them to access loans through credit institutions, insurance, disaster relief and other support services provided by Government, while protecting fully the land rights of the owners; and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Whereas, the prohibitions and restrictions under existing state laws governing agricultural land leasing forced the landowners and lessee cultivators to have informal agreements only for cultivating the land and thereby depriving the lessee cultivators of the benefits which are normally due to them, the existing laws also create insecurity among landowners to lease - out agricultural land which reduces the access to land by the landless poor, small and marginal farmers and others by way of leasing.
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