(1) Abolition of Intermediaries
- Following the recommendation of Kumarappa Committee, all the states in India enacted legislation for the abolition of intermediary tenures (Zamindari Abolition Acts) in the 1950s, although the nature and effects of such legislation varied from state to state.
- In West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir, legislation for abolishing intermediary tenures was accompanied by simultaneous imposition of ceilings on land holdings.
- In other states, intermediaries were allowed to retain possession of lands under their personal cultivation without limit being set, as the ceiling laws were passed only in the1960s. As a result, there was enough time left for the intermediaries to make legal or illegal transfers of land,registering their own land under names of different relatives to bypass the ceiling, and shufflingtenants around different plots of land, so that they would not acquire incumbency rights asstipulated in the tenancy law.
- Besides, in some states, the law applied only to tenant interests and not to agricultural holdings. Therefore, many large intermediaries continued to exist even after formal abolition of zamindari.
- Upon the legal abolition of intermediaries between 1950 and 1960, nearly 20 million cultivators in the country were brought into direct contact with the Government.
- As a result of the abolition of intermediaries, about 2 crore tenants are estimated to have come into direct contact with the State making them owners of land.
- The abolition of intermediaries has led to the end of a parasite class. More lands have been brought to government possession for distribution to landless farmers.
- A considerable area of cultivable waste land and private forests belonging to the intermediaries has been vested in the State.
- Abolition of intermediaries has resulted in a heavy burden on the state exchequer .The ex-intermediaries have been given a compensation amounting to Rs. 670 crores in cash and in bonds.
- It has led to large-scale eviction. Large-scale eviction, in turn, has given rise to several problems – social, economic, administrative and legal.
- Instead of the abolition of the official land-lords, absentee land-lordsas a class have emerged. Hence the claim of the official documents pertaining to the abolition of intermediaries has no logical foundation. The truth is that it has changed only its garb.
Analysis of Zamindari abolition Act:
- The provision in Zamindari Abolition Act accommodates that the Zamindars can retain some lands for their personal use. However, how much personal cultivable land can be retained was never defined. Ceiling of holdings was not yet introduced by that time.
- When the act was passed, there were no records that have the information about the tenancy. Zamindars showed the tenants as their servants and retained the lands.
- Forests were massively depleted as there was a provision in the act that forests under the control of Zamindars shall be transferred to the village panchayats.
- The government has to pay compensation for the confiscated lands. This provision in the act increased heavy pressure and burden on the State treasury.
- States in the India were empowered to make laws related to Zamindari abolition act since the land comes under state list of the seventh schedule of the constitution of India. There was no uniformity in the act in each State.
(2) Tenancy Reforms
- The Agrarian Reforms Committee recommended against any system of cultivation by tenants and maintained that leasing of land should be prohibited except in the case of widows, minors and disabled persons.
- This viewpoint received further strength subsequently in various Five Year Plans. According to the Second Five Year Plan, abolition of intermediary tenures and bringing the tenants into direct relations with the state would give the tiller of the soil his rightful place in the agrarian system and provide him with full incentives for increasing agricultural production
- Immediately after Independence, although the major emphasis was on the abolition of intermediaries, certain amendments to the existing tenancy laws were made with a view to providing security to the tenants of ex-intermediaries. But these legal measures provoked the landlords to secure mass eviction of tenants, sub-tenants and share croppers through various legal and extra-legal devices. The highly defective land records, the prevalence of oral leases, absence of rent receipts, non-recognition in law of share- croppers as tenants and various punitive provisions of the tenancy laws were utilized by the landlords to secure eviction of all types of tenants.
- To counteract such a tendency, therefore, it became necessary on the part of the State Governments to enact or amend the laws in the subsequent years and provide for adequate safeguards against illegal eviction and ensure security of tenure for the tenants-at-will.
Four distinct patterns:
- Tenancy reforms undertaken by various states followed four distinct patterns.
- First, the tenancy laws of several states including Andhra Pradesh (Telengana region), Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh banned leasing out of agricultural land except by certain disabled categories of landowners, so as to vest the ownership of land with the actual tillers. But concealed tenancy continued to exist in all these states.
- Second, the state of Kerala banned agricultural tenancy altogether without having any exception.
- Third, States like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Haryana did not ban tenancy as such. But tenants after continuous possession of land for certain specified years, acquired the right of purchase of the land they cultivated. However, in all these states, leasing out by both large and small farmers continued. In fact, a tendency towards reverse tenancy in which large farmers leased-in land from marginal farmers was set in since the advent of green revolution in the mid-sixties.
- Fourth, states like West Bengal, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra area of Andhra Pradesh did not ban leasing-out of agricultural land. But share-croppers were not recognised as tenants. The State of West Bengal recognised share-croppers as tenants only with effect from 1979, with the launching of ‘Operation Barga”. (explained later on)
- Almost all State Governments provided for the regulation of rent, excepting Kerala where leasing out was completely prohibited. The regulated or fair rent ranged between 1/4th to 1/6th of the produce. But actual rent remained always higher than the regulated or fair rent. In many places where small and marginal farmers leased-in land from large or absentee landowners, the situation continued to be exploitative, thereby discouraging the actual tillers to cultivate the land efficiently.
(3) Ceilings on Land Holding:
- The term ‘ceiling on land holdings’ refers to the legally stipulated maximum size beyond which no individual farmer or farm household can hold any land.
- Like all other land reforms measures, the objective of such ceiling is to promote economic growth with social justice. It has been duly recognized by India’s planners and policy makers that beyond a point any large scale farming in Indian situation becomes not only uneconomic, but also unjust. Small farms tend to increase economic efficiency of resource use and improve social equity through employment creation and more equitable income distribution.
- Small farms offer more opportunities for employment compared to large farms. Hence, even if large farms produce relatively more output per unit of area, they cannot be considered more efficient in a situation of widespread unemployment and under-employment prevalent in this country.
- In 1942, the Kumarappan Committee recommended the maximum size of land a land lord can retain, it was three times of the size of the economic holding i.e. Sufficient livelihood for a family. The All India Kisan Sabha recommended that the land that can be retained by a family shall be 25 acres.
- In 1959, Indian National Congress (Nagpur Resolution) resolved that agrarian legislation to cover restrictions on the size of land holdings must be implemented in all states by the end of 1959 and and surplus lands shall be brought under co-operatives. Accordingly, all the State Governments excepting north-eastern region-imposed ceilings on land holdings in the 1960s.
- The states of West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir had already imposed ceilings on land holdings along with the laws for abolition of intermediaries in the early 1950s. However, the Nagpur Resolution of 1959 had significant impact as various State Governments immediately took to the ratification of ceiling legislation.
- The Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, 1960;The Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960; The Orissa Land Reforms Act, 1969, The Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceilings on Land Holdings Act, 1960; The Bihar Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Area and Acquisition of Surplus Land Act, 1961; The Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961; The Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1960; The Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Land) Act, 1961 and The Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 were some of the results of the Nagpur Resolution on Land Reform.
- However, as the ceiling laws were not ratified simultaneously with abolition of zamindari, except in West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir , several nami and benami transfer of land took place. This reduced the potential ceiling surplus land that could be available for redistribution.
- Besides, several states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal followed individuals as the unit of application for ceiling, while family as the unit of application was adopted in Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
- Ceilings were quite high in several states.
- In addition, the several categories of land were exempted from the ceiling laws, for example: 1) Land under Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Coco and Cardamum Plantations 2) Land used for cultivation of Palm, Kesra, Bela, Chameli or rose when such land holders have no land for any other cultivation (U.P.) 3) Sugarcane Farms 4) Co-operative Gardens, Colonies 5) Tank Fisheries 6) Area under orchard up to 4 hectares (Punjab and Haryana) 7) Co-operative farming etc.
- These exemptions as provided in the ceiling laws gave rise to problems of law evasion by manipulating the classification of land.
- Also the size of the ceiling surplus land available for redistribution was consequently reduced.
Analysis of Land Ceiling Act:
- From 1960 to 1961, several States brought into force the Land Ceiling Acts. However, there was no proper result till 1972 due to the following:
- The zamindars transferred the lands on to the names of their farm servants or other family members,
- The act exempted the plantation industries and co-operative farming has got exemption which was tactfully utilized by the landlords.
- Ceilings were quite high in several states.
- In 1972, Basing on the recommendations of the Central land reforms committee, government of India issued the following new guidelines to the states with regard to land ceiling act:
- Ceiling for the double crop irrigated lands; limit shall be 10 to 18 acres.
- Ceiling for the single crop irrigated lands; limit shall be 27 acres.
- Ceiling for the dry land it shall be 54 acres.
- The above ceiling measurements were applicable to a family of five members. The family with more than five can have additional area of land for each additional member but the same cannot be extended beyond twenty acres.
(4) Consolidation of Holdings
- The term ‘Consolidation of holdings’ refers to amalgamation and redistribution of the fragmented land with a view to bringing together all plots of land of a cultivator in one compact block.
- Due to growing pressure of population on land and the limited opportunities for work in the non-agricultural sector, there is an increasing trend towards sub-division and fragmentation of land holdings. This makes the task of irrigation management, land improvement and personal supervision of different plots very difficult.
- After independence, almost all states excepting Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and parts of Andhra Pradesh enacted laws for consolidation of holdings. But the nature of legislation and the degree of success achieved varied widely.
- While in Punjab (including Haryana) it was made compulsory, in other states law provided for consolidation on voluntary basis, if majority of the land owners agreed.
- Generally speaking, the consolidation acts provided for:
- prohibition of fragmentation below standard area
- fixation of minimum standard area for regulating transfers
- schemes of consolidation by exchange of holdings
- reservation of land for common areas
- procedure for payment of compensation to persons allotted holdings of less value in exchange
- administrative machinery for carrying consolidation schemes
- filing of objections, appeals and penalties.
Advantages of Consolidation of Holdings:
- It prevents the endless subdivision and fragmentation of land holdings.
- It saves the time and labour of a farmer.
- It effect improvement on land in the form of bunding, fencing etc.
- It promotes large-scale cultivation by using mechanical machines like tractor.
- It brings down the cost of cultivation and reduces litigation among farmers.
However, due to lack of adequate political and administrative support, the progress made in terms of consolidation of holding was not very satisfactory, excepting in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh where the task of consolidation was accomplished. But in these states, there is a need for reconsolidation again due to subsequent fragmentation of holdings under the population pressure.
(5) Compilation, digitisation and updation of land records.