State gets ready for new Agri Land Leasing Act, 2016
GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government is reportedly getting ready to adopt the 'Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act (ALL), 2016' proposed by Niti Ayog to increase mobility in transfer of possession of agricultural land for agriculture and related activities.
An officer in the state government said, "We are studying various aspects of the ALL Act. Gujarat may become the first state to adopt the law. It may not be possible to move this bill in the monsoon session of assembly or in winter session. There are certain ambiguities in the model which may be changed.''
Activists are worried over what 'changes' may be incorporated. They fear that with the state government's plans on LARR 2016 having gone awry, and with the Centre's own land bill ordinance still pending before the parliamentary committee, opportunists may find or create loopholes in the ALL Act to grab land from farmers in the state. They also point out that the law does not provide a ceiling on how much land someone may take on lease, nor exclude companies into corporate farming from taking land on lease.
Though the law purports to create a way for landless farmers to have land to cultivate - such farmers wouldn't have been landless, in the first place, had they possessed money to take land on lease, point out activists. So, the law would play into the hands of corporate farmers with deep pockets, and help the rich get richer, they say. Pankati Jog, RTI and farmers' rights activist, said, "The model ALL Act 2016, is based on the assumption that there are large chunks of land which is not cultivated, or lying fallow, and it is caused by restrictions in the current "Tenancy Acts" existing in states. However, the report does not mention any study, data, figures, or facts to show how existing tenancy laws are leading to 'inefficiency in agriculture'." "Interestingly, the limitations of the existing laws are being viewed from a perspective that is worried over how transfer of land or its possession is restricted, and does not look into securing the rights of marginalized," she said.
"The ALL Act is not going to arrange land for poor, but will promote corporate farming, will facilitate consolidation of small land holdings, and slowly, push out small-scale farming," added Jog.Niti Ayog had constituted an expert committee to create the model law for land leasing based on critical reviews of the existing Agriculture Tenancy Acts in states. The expert committee submitted its report to Niti Ayog on March 31, 2016, along with the model legislation, "Model Agriculture Land Leasing Act 2016". The Ayog has asked all state government to pass state laws using the ALL Act, 2016 as a base.
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