Says section 3 of land has nothing to do with transfer of any land to Armed Forces
Srinagar, Nov 2: Days after repealing the decades old land law, the government on Monday said that the 90 per cent of land in Jammu and Kashmir can’t be sold out to the non-J&K residents as it’s used for agricultural purpose.
Addressing media persons in Jammu, Government spokesman, Rohit Kansal said that the laws that were recently repealed by the government were obsolete, outdated and people unfriendly.
However, he said that some of provisions in the recently repealed laws, which were pro-people have been saved and taken care of to ensure that these are the same in the new course.
He also added that “Many of these laws have become outdated, obsolete and as new laws kept getting added the system of land laws when looked at as a whole suffered from not only obsolete and redundancy tests, but also ambiguities and contradictions. In many cases, the laws that were in existence were clearly regressive and anti-people.”
About the statements being made over the transfer of land to the Army, he said some people have made such comments, but the fact is that section 3 of the land has nothing to do with the transfer of any land to the Armed Forces. “The transfers, both acquisition or requisitions, will continue to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject,” he said.
“The law merely exempts the Armed forces from operation of such aspects of this Act so that the responsibility of ensuring that the construction activities are undertaken as per the Developmental Control Regulation of the Master Plan and all environmental safeguards are observed, has been delegated to the Armed Forces themselves,” he added.
There are five safeguards in this regard, which include that this will be only applicable on lands, which are legitimately available with the armed forces, this can only be done by the officer, who is not below the core commander, this can only be for training and operational purposes, this can only be at the absolutely satisfaction of the government that conditions are met and government is free to impose such conditions and restrictions as it may like to do so that no guidelines or rules are violated.
About industrial development corporations, he said he wants to make it clear that the concept is not new. “We already have a SIDCO here, which has been engaged in job of developing new industrial estate. This industrial development corporation has been set up through a statute rather than through companies act, which gives certain powers to protect the interests of the State here in so far as it relates to taking action against those who may be non complying to the laws of the state,” he said.
Giving details about repealing of laws, Kansal said that the agrarian reforms act 1976 is 44 years old, yet this act prohibited the ceiling of land that was available to the tiller so as a result even after a generation at past and 44 years, this land could not be sold or transacted, the consequences were that you had a large number of so-called ‘benami’ transactions and restrictions for the next generations to transact this land, which was otherwise legitimately made available to the tiller.
Pertinently, the government repealed 11 Land Laws that existed in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir replacing the old, regressive, intrinsically contradictory and outdated laws with a set of modern, progressive and people friendly provisions.
“The new land laws will not only afford protection to over 90% of the land in J&K from being alienated to outsiders but will also help revamp the agriculture sector foster, rapid industrialization, aid economic growth and create jobs in J&K,” Kansal added.
Kansal said that the repealed laws were made to serve the old agrarian based economy and were required to be modified for modern economic needs. Besides, they were beset with ambiguities, contradictions and redundancies and in many cases, were clearly regressive. “For instance, A number of Laws had contradictions leading to scope for discretionary interpretation and rent seeking e.g. ‘Family’ was defined differently in different laws, provision of alienation and conversion of land were different in different Laws and the ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion,” he added.
“The Prohibition of Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975 not only prohibited alienation of orchard lands; it surprisingly restricted creation of new orchards too. Similarly, the old Agrarian Reforms Act prohibited the selling of land distributed to tillers even after 44 years. The Right of Prior Purchase Act severely constrained an owner’s right to dispose off his own property,” he said.
Kansal, who was flanked by Principal Secretary Revenue, Pawan Kotwal and Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, said that the new Land Laws are modern and progressive even while affording adequate protection against alienation of land to outsiders.
“A number of protections have been built into the new land laws on similar lines as has been enacted in other states such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. To begin with, no agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside the UT of J&K but can only be sold to an agriculturist from within J&K,” he said, adding that no land used for agricultural purpose can be used for any non-agricultural purpose.
“The terms agricultural land and agriculturist have been unambiguously defined to include not just agriculture but horticulture and allied agro-activities as well. Agriculturist has been defined as “.. a person who cultivates land personally in the UT of J&K..”. The safeguard on agricultural land alone would ensure that more than 90 percent of land in the UT which is an agricultural land remains protected and with the people of J&K,” he said.
He further stated that the new provisions not only address the infirmities in the old set of laws but also provide for modern and enabling provisions to aid in the agricultural and industrial growth of the UT of J&K.
“While progressive provisions of the repealed laws have been retained by including them in the modified Land Revenue Act, new provisions have been added to modernize existing laws. There are now provisions for setting up of a Board of Revenue, Regional planning for regulating use of land, alienation and conversion, land lease, consolidation and Contract Farming. The Board of Revenue comprising senior officers will not only be the Developing Authority for preparing regional plans but can notify a scheme of consolidation of land holdings and also a scheme for restricting and regulating the fragmentation of agricultural land holdings to make agriculture viable,” he said.