"Government has repealed 11 land laws that existed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir replacing the old, regressive, intrinsically contradictory and outdated laws with a set of modern, progressive and people friendly provisions," the government said on Monday.
"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."
This was stated by the Principal Secretary Information and government spokesman Rohit Kansal at a press conference in Jammu today. Kansal made these comments while interacting with the media on a host of issues related to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020.
Elaborating, Kansal remarked that the repealed laws were made to serve the old agrarian based economy and were required to be modified for modern economic needs.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of land were different in different laws and the ceiling of 182 kanals fixed in Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was superseded by 100 standard kanals in the Agrarian Reforms act, 1976, yet both provisions continued to coexist creating contradiction and confusion."
"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.
"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. 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," Kansal said.
"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."
The government on the occasion issued a statement which read:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the changes…Which Acts or laws repealed and why … what are the modifications… What are the safeguards?
SALIENT FEATURES OF AMENDMENTS
Which are the laws repealed and why?
11 Laws repealed
List of Repealed Laws
Which laws have been modified and what are the major changes
CONCERNS AND APPREHENSIONS
Apprehension about Land Reforms are unfounded
LAND REVENUE ACT 1996
PROTECTIONS AND SAFEGUARDS
Jammu & Kashmir Development Act 1970
Strategic Areas. What does this mean? Will Army have land wherever it wants and build wherever and whatever it desires?
Section 3 has nothing to do with the transfer of any land to the Armed Forces. The transfer, both acquisition or requisitions, will continue to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject.
What does this section do?
It 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.
Here too there are sufficient safeguards. Only applicable on own/legally acquired lands. Only on request from officer not below Corps Commander (Lt. Gen) only for operational and training purposes.
On the discretion of and after satisfaction of the Government- and on such conditions as may be required by the government.
The main objective of the changes in the Laws
The laws need to be seen in totality