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Workshop on Land for the Poor. 24.02.2005. Taking a fresh look at land question. Why ? Land reforms and other land issues have come to the center stage now under the UPA supported by the Left combine.

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taking a fresh look at land question
Taking a fresh look at land question

Why ?

  • Land reforms and other land issues have come to the center stage now under the UPA supported by the Left combine.
  • Land reforms find a place in the CMP also as the Govt. is committed to economic reforms with a human face.
  • Extremist outfits making vociferous demands for radical changes in the land policy of the state.

And ultimately

Land is critical for poverty reduction.

land why critical for poverty reduction
Land- Why critical for poverty reduction ?

Agriculture remains the prime source of livelihood for a vast majority of people living in rural areas.

About 70% of the India’s population lives in the rural areas, of which more than 3/4ths derive their livelihood from land, wholly or partially.

Land is still the pivotal property in terms of both income and employment, around which socio-economic privileges and deprivations revolve.

Not only an economic and social but also a psychological capital.

Issues involving land rights and land access may be complex – but they are too critical for long term development goals and cannot be ignored.

So -
  • Can the demands placed on the State for land reforms get translated into objective policies and programmes?
  • What is the most feasible way in which the Govt. of AP can shape the land relations in the State to contribute to equity and efficiency in future?
  • Are we taking sides with the most disadvantaged sections of the poor in promoting and protecting their rights with regard to the control and use of land?
taking sides with the poor
Taking sides with the poor

What has been ?

The Govt. has been striving to promote the rights of the poor with regard to land

  • through land reforms and allied measures (as provided in the Preamble and under Part IV of the Constitution).
  • also included in the 9th Schedule to ensure speedy and unhindered implementation of various legislative measures.
  • shown interest in land redistribution, and formulated legislative measures to allot land as well to protect it from being transferred to non-poor.
  • abolition of intermediaries, ceiling on landholdings and tenancy reforms were considered as 3 key elements.
  • Simultaneously emphasis has been given to distribution of govt. waste lands and surplus lands

The largest body of land reform legislation ever to have been passed in so short a period in any country was in post independent India.

taking sides with the poor1
Taking sides with the poor…
  • Governments since inception in 1956 made efforts towards equitable distribution of lands through various acts of legislations and policy decisions like
    • AP Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973
    • The AP (Andhra Area) Tenancy Act, 1956
    • The AP (Telangana Area) Tenancy And Agricultural Lands Act, 1950
    • The AP Assigned Lands (Prohibition Of Transfer) Act, l977
    • A.P (Telangana Area) Abolition Of Inams Act, 1955
    • AP (Andhra Area) Inam Abolition Act, 1956
    • The Andhra Pradesh Rights In Land And Pattadar Pass Books Act, 1971
    • The Andhra Pradesh Occupants Of Homesteads (Conferment Of Ownership) Act, 1976.
    • AP Land grabbing Act, AP encroachment Act etc.
taking sides with the poor2
Taking sides with the poor…

But- the process of linking the land to the poor is far from completed though there are pro-poor Acts to facilitate land ownership by the landless poor .

Despite the continuing efforts of government, even today, several field experiences and studies indicate that the end results have not been commensurate with the expectations.

And the poor got disillusioned.

taking sides with the poor3
Taking sides with the poor…

Land Reforms- An unfinished agenda

Started with a great enthusiasm with an aim to make more rational use of scarce land resource with equity as the basis for its three key elements- abolition of intermediaries, ceiling on landholdings and tenancy reforms.

  • The first of these could be implemented with a relative degree of success to the extent of doing away with the Zamindari and Inamdari systems, but not in improving the lot of the poor.
  • Initially 16.63 lakh acres were declared as surplus, later reduced to 8.01 lakh acres. 5.71 acres have been taken possession. Still 2.29 lakh acres are yet to be taken over.
taking sides with the poor4
Taking sides with the poor…

Out of the 789911.40 acres declared surplus, 582374.42 acres are stated to have been distributed to the poor. 207536.98 acres are not distributeddue to the following reasons.

  • Under litigation in Courts - 147384 acres
  • Unfit for cultivation - 10291.18 acres
  • Reserved/ Transferred for public purpose - 16690.85 acres
  • Covered under Misc. reasons/ administrative delay- 31234.40 acres
  • Readily available for distribution - 1936.01 acres
taking sides with the poor5
Taking sides with the poor…

Why the surplus land is not available for distribution ?

  • the large landholders have avoided the ceiling laws by partitioning their families in the land record while cultivating the land jointly.
  • Higher limits of ceiling keeping in view ‘local’ considerations.
  • litigation withholds a major part of the land in almost all the states.
  • Sizeable area in AP has gone out of the total quantum of surplus land as a result of court decisions.
  • a significant portion of the area declared as ceiling surplus is either unfit for cultivation or not available for distribution due to ‘miscellaneous reasons’.
taking sides with the poor6
Taking sides with the poor…
  • No. of cases were filed on wrong determination of surplus by the land reforms authorities by not verifying the status of legal heirs, gift deeds (Pasupu kumkuma to the married daughters), already transferred by sada bai nama to another party by declarant, non deletion of such lands covered by tenancy, Inam etc.
  • A huge no. of cases are being ordered by the Courts in favour of the declarants due to delay in filing the counter by authorities, not furnishing the required documentary evidencesto the Courts.
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Taking sides with the poor…..

The Planning Commission Task Force and also a no. of studies mentioned the following, as the principal reasons for poor implementation of land reforms-

  • lack of political will
  • absence of pressure from below
  • the escaping attitude of the large landowners
  • the inherent loopholes and ambiguities in the legislative measures
  • apathetic attitude of the bureaucracy- slow proceedings at all levels
  • absence of up to date land records and
  • legal hurdles in the way of implementation.
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Taking sides with the poor…

Issues of Tenancy

  • Two separate laws govern rural land tenancy in AP.
  • Both laws regulate the landlord-tenant relationship by setting a maximum rate of rent and a standard lease period of 5 or 6 years.
  • Both acts attempt to protect tenants from exploitative tenancy relationships.
  • The Telangana Act is more radical prohibiting the creation of new tenancy-relationships, with some exceptions, and creating a class of PTs who have the right to purchase the land they work.
  • In 1974, the Andhra Act was amended to bring it more in line with the Telangana Act. The Telangana Act, however, continues to grant tenants greater rights and protections.
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Taking sides with the poor…

Issues of Tenancy

The extent of Tenancy has increased sharply during the last 10 to 15 years due to

  • the migration of the rich farmers and landlords who preferred to lease out the land and charge exorbitant rents. (In Telangana, due to extremist problem)
  • some small and middle peasants suffering due to high costs of production, unremunerative prices etc. leasing out their lands.
  • in many parts of the delta area about 80% of the land is leased out.

The poor tenants suffered as

  • Provision was made for the termination of the tenancy and eviction of the tenant during the currency of the lease in case the tenant failed to pay the rent due or misused the land.
  • The landlord was also permitted to take back the land from his tenant for “personal cultivation”, which was defined loosely.
taking sides with the poor10
Taking sides with the poor…

Issues of Tenancy

  • large-scale eviction of tenants took place in the guise of personal cultivation.
  • No formal credit is available to the tenants, since tenancy was not recorded. So they have to borrow from the informal sector with usurious interest rates.
  • Whatever crop insurance amounts paid for crop failure, went to the landowners.
  • Insecure tenancies give rise to uncertainty. The tenant is not sure whether he will retain operation control over the leased parcel

Limitations on capacity to undertake durable investment

lower productivity of land.

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Taking sides with the poor…

Bhoodan Lands

  • 195509.7 acres had been received in donation out of which 122682.56 acres were fit for cultivation. 112600.7 acres were distributed so far. 10081.38 acres are yet to be distributed.

(A.P.Bhoodan Yagna Board, 2002.)

  • About 40% of land collected through this scheme i.e. about 70,000 acres had been found either unsuitable for cultivation or under dispute.
  • The donated lands were by and large of inferior types requiring substantial investment to make them worthy of cultivation
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Taking sides with the poor…

Unsettled Inam Lands

  • 9,08,575 acres are settled so far under AP (AA) Inam Abolition Act, 1956, AP (TA) Inam Abolition Act, 1955, AP (TA) Inam Abolition Act 29/85.
  • In Telangana area, thousands of acres are still waiting to be settled.
  • Settling of Inams is not proactive. Only those who apply for the settlement get the occupancy rights and the land title settled in their name.
  • Wherever special drives were conducted, the occupancy rights are not leading to final settlement due to non-payment of premium. As a result pattadar pass books are not being issued to the holders of ORCs.
  • several decades have passed since the original inams were given. The only way of settling the Inam is by enquiry. It is only the older generation who are in the know of the family tree, legacy of land and other issues like transfer and sale of lands etc. In another 5-10 years time they may not be alive to give the total picture.
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Taking sides with the poor…

Land Distribution among Scheduled Castes and Tribes

The poorest among the poor in Indian society are largely from these groups.

  • The incidence of landlessness is more pronounced among these groups, the bulk of whom are agricultural laborers having minuscule holdings/ sharecroppers/ insecure tenants.

After 50 years of planned initiatives and policy measures, what is the landholding status of scheduled groups?

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Taking sides with the poor…

Land Distribution among Scheduled Castes and Tribes

  • A majority of SCs (77 %) and STs (90%) are landless, without any productive assets and sustainable employment opportunities.

(Ninth Five-Year Plan Draft 1997-2002, Planning Commission).

  • Around 87% of the landholders of SCs and 65% of STs in the country belong to the category of small and marginal farmers

(Agricultural Census 1990-91).

  • 64% of SCs and 36% of STs’ main workers are agricultural laborers as against 31% of others.

(Census of India, 1991)

  • The scheduled castes, with 16 per cent of the state’s population control only 7.5 per cent of the operated area in Andhra Pradesh. Compared with 1980-81, in 1990-91 the increase is less than 0.5 per cent.
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Taking sides with the poor…

What is the Status of the land distribution to the SCs ?

  • Out of the 4321376.37 acres of Govt. land distributed so far, 979315.91 acres were distributed to the SCs i.e. 22% of the total land distributed.
  • 6,51,725 SCs got land assignment out of a population of 1,23,39,496 i.e. only 5% of the SCs were covered under the land assignment programme of the Govt.
  • According to one estimate, about 5.00 lakh acres only are held by the SCs now though about 10.00 lakh acres had been distributed to the SCs from 1969 to 2000.
taking sides with the poor status of the land holdings of the scs
1961 Census

1991 Census

SC Population



People able to work



Land owners/cultivators

7,59,000 (23% of the able workers)

6,60,585 (12% of the able workers)

Agricultural laborers

17,56,908 (57%)

37,26,590 (72%)

Taking sides with the poor…Status of the land holdings of the SCs
  • About One Lakh SCs lost land.
  • Of the people who are able to work, only 12% are holding lands. It has

decreased from 23% in 1961.

  • The % of agricultural laborers has drastically increased from 57% in

1961 to 72% in 1991.

  • 50% of the holdings of the SCs do not have any irrigation facility.
taking sides with the poor16
Average Holding of the SCs

Average holding of the STs


1.19 hectare

2.33 hectare


1.06 hectare


0.9 hectare


0.91 hectare


0.83 hectare

1.44 hectare

Taking sides with the poor…

How average holding has decreased?

* As per the Agricultural Census of 1995-96 which is published recently.

In the Land distribution programme from 1969 till date, “others” were benefited more in terms of numbers and extent compared to SCs/STs/BCs.
  • Whether it is allotment of Govt. land/ ceiling surplus land/ bhoodan land, ensuring physical possession of it becomes a major problem.
  • In many places pattas were not issued even after several years of allotment of land which invariably leads to several kinds of litigation.
  • Substantial extents of lands, which had been assigned to the landless poor, have actually been alienated and ended up in the hands of non-poor.

Though Act 9 of 77 prohibits transfer and restores the possession back to the assignee evicting the encroacher, this option is rarely resorted to.

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Taking sides with the poor…

Tribal Land Issues

  • Tribals cultivating land cleaning forest within their customary norms and practices without any experience of landlessness, were compelled to work as laborers in their own land.
  • Strong discontentment and the simmering tensions culminated in rebellions one after another.
  • Despite the provision for prevention of land transfers from tribals to non-tribals, land alienation through debt mechanism, tenancy and other dishonest practices continued unabated.
  • The survey and settlement regulations of the Govt. had given scope for the non-tribals to claim legal right over the lands
  • About 3.00 lakh acres is estimated to be under the occupation of tribals from ages which is claimed to be forest land.
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Taking sides with the poor…

Tribal Lands Alienation

  • In Andhra Pradesh land alienation among the tribals is remarkably higher both in terms of area and number.
  • Lot of manipulations have been done from 1917 onwards from which time the Govt. had started making special enactments for the agency tracts.
  • Despite Land Transfer Regulations, non-tribals hold as much as 48% of the lands.
  • During the survey and settlement period i.e. 1970 – 76 in the agency areas, most of the land belonged to tribals was surveyed in the name of non- tribals under Ryotwari Settlement Regulations 2 of 69 and 2 of 70. Non- tribals managed to get settlement pattas over the land of tribals.
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Taking sides with the poor…

Tribal Lands Alienation

  • A large number of registered land alienation cases have been rejected and many of them are also pending in court.
  • In AP, out of the cases filed 48.18% (involving 52.2% of area) have been rejected and went against the tribals. 11.63 are pending in Courts.

(Annual Report 1999-2000, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India)

  • Moreover, many of the land alienation cases are also unreported and unregistered.
  • In many cases though the land is owned by a tribal it is occupied and cultivated by non-tribals.
  • In cases where orders were issued in favor of the tribals, the orders were not implemented and the lands continued to be under the virtual control of the non-tribals.

8,27,076 STs out of a population of 50,24,104 i.e. only 16.46% of the STs were covered under the land assignment programme of the Govt.

taking sides with the poor20
Sl. No.




No. of cases detected


Extent (in acres)



No. of cases disposed





Land Restored to tribals



Balance to be restored


Taking sides with the poor…

Status of LTR implementation


taking sides with the poor21
Taking sides with the poor…

Sada bainama Transactions

  • Thousands of poor have bought the lands from the landowners about 30-40 years ago, on plain paper (sada bai nama) and are in physical possession of these lands
  • As the purchase transaction has taken place on plain paper these lands are not registered in the names of the poor.
  • The cut off date for filing application for regularizing such transactions was 31.10.1998. Due to ignorance of the provision or lack of resources, the poor could not regularize their purchase of lands.
  • Thousands of acres are involved in Sada bainama transactions in almost all the districts. Guntur is reported to have 45,000 acres involved in such transactions.

Thousands of poor are not legal owners of the lands they bought.

taking sides with the poor22
Taking sides with the poor…

Lands of the poor locked in Courts

  • At Hyderabad, the capital city of AP there are at least 8,000-10,000 land cases and issues of the poor in the various courts- the High Court and other Apex Courts at the Govt.level.
  • At District Level, a conservative estimate is that there will be another 5000 cases pending in the Courts of MRO/RDO/JC in each district.
  • The average age of a case is 10 years. Each case travels through the various lower courts to arrive at Apex court, adding another 5-10 years to the age of the case.
  • Due to time pressure and the multifarious tasks, the revenue magistrates are not able to hold the courts regularly, leave alone dispose of the cases.
  • Increasing interference of civil courts in revenue issues is further compounding the issue.
  • Many of the land cases will be eventually leading to a criminal case. There many instances where people are approaching the police for getting relief in a land dispute.

A poor man waits nearly 15-20 years for justice

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Taking sides with the poor…

Lands of the poor locked in Courts

  • technicalities with regard to the management of cases are not taken care of.
  • Lists of pending cases are not available in these offices and sometimes the old case files are not traceable.
  • The improper maintenance of files leads to one case being in different files leading to parallel orders, two to three cases found in one single file etc.
  • There is no standard format to maintain case files and categorize them.

The poor lose out because of lack of legal awareness, an indifferent system, long pendency and non-availability of legal assistance

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Taking sides with the poor…

Other Land Issues

  • About 38 categories of land are available in the villages.
  • Thousands of acres of Endowment lands are under the occupation of non-poor.
  • Thousands of acres of Lanka lands are under the occupation of poor.
  • CJFS lands.
  • Updation and Maintenance of land records and making them available to the public.

(It hasbeen estimated by reputed agencies that India loses 1.3 per cent economic growth annually as a result of disputed land titles, which inhibit supply of capital and credit foragriculture)

Fair distribution of land is not possible through mere legislative measures. The law, however well framed cannot succeed in the absence of an active socio-political organization to help the underprivileged assert their rights over land.
elements of sub division plan
Elements of Sub-division Plan


Mapping Land Issues

  • The first stage in the sub-divisional action plan will be to map comprehensively the land issues in the subdivision. For this village-wise details of various types of land issues shall be captured.

b. Time period required : 1 month. By march 25th this exercise shall be completed for the subdivision.

elements of sub division plan1
Elements of Sub-division Plan

c. Physical Inventory of Lands in the subdivision:

Details of land issues in the subdivision shall be captured from village wise detailed physical inventory of lands. (Proforma enclosed)

i. A time bound plan forming special teams of revenue, survey and members from NGOs working on land issues to cover all villages in the sub division shall be prepared.

ii. These teamsshall be trained in doing physical inventory of lands in the village.

iii. Following details shall be captured .

elements of sub division plan2
Elements of Sub-division Plan
  • Details of Village wise land issues in the sub division :

i. Government lands (Poramboke lands ,Bhoodan lands, )

  • Extent of Government lands
  • Extent of Government lands assigned
  • Extent of lands in possession of the original assignee
  • Extent of lands not in possession of eligible encroachers
  • Extent of lands in possession of the ineligible encroachers
  • Extent and status of lands not assigned
  • Extent of lands available for assignment
  • Details of pattas issued but physical possession not shown
  • Eligible Shivaijamadars in cultivation of lands
  • Extent of lands under the ‘un assignable category’ in occupation of the poor
elements of sub division plan3
Elements of Sub-division Plan

ii. Inam Lands / Estate Lands

Extent of Inam/Estate lands

Extent and details of unsettled Inam/Estate lands

iii. Endowment lands

Extent and details of endowment lands in occupation of the poor

iv. Revenue –Forest Border dispute lands

Extent and details of lands under forest-revenue disputes.

elements of sub division plan4
Elements of Sub-division Plan

v.Ceiling Lands

Extent of lands declared surplus in form 10

Ø      Extent of lands taken possession

Ø      Extent of lands assigned to the poor

Ø      Extent of lands not assigned

Ø      Extent of lands not taken possession

Ø      Extent of land which is ceiling surplus but not declared


vi. Forest Lands under occupation of poor

Extent of lands under occupation of the poor

elements of sub division plan5
Elements of Sub-division Plan

vii. Lands of poor under sadabainama transactions :

Details of lands of poor under sadabainama


viii . Extent and details of Lanka lands :

ix. Extent of lands in the Revenue courts:

x. Extent of lands in civil courts :  

xi. Details of Common Property resources :

stage ii
Stage II

Physical Verification

Stage III

Action Plan for resolving issues