Agricultural land can only be sold to agriculturists from J&K under new land laws: Govt

Rohit Kansal during a press conference in Jammu

New Delhi (NVI): Under the new land laws for Jammu and Kashmir, agricultural land can now only be sold to agriculturists from within the Union Territory, the Principal Secretary, Information and government spokesman, Rohit Kansal said.

While addressing a virtual press conference, Kansal said, “No agricultural land can be transferred to any person from outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir 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.”

He informed that, the term agricultural land and agriculturist have been defined to include not just agriculture but horticulture and allied agro-activities as well.

“The safeguard on agricultural land alone would ensure that more than 90 percent of land in the Union Territory which is an agricultural land remains protected and with the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Kansal added.

Kansal also stated that, Jammu and Kashmir government repealed 11 Land Laws that existed in the erstwhile state of J&K, replacing the old, regressive and outdated laws with a set of modern, progressive provisions.

He added that the new land laws will not only afford protection to over 90 per cent of the land in Jammu and Kashmir from being alienated to outsiders but will also help revamp the agriculture sector and foster rapid industrialization, aid economic growth and create jobs in J&K.

Kansal made these comments while speaking on issues related to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Fifth Order, 2020.

The spokesperson also remarked that the repealed laws were made to serve the old agrarian based economy and were required to be modified for modern economic needs.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, he added.

Kansal said that 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.

Meanwhile, 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 spokesperson stressed upon 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,” he added.

Kansal said 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 Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir

“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,” he added.

The spokesperson further said that 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,” he said, adding that, also a scheme for restricting and regulating the fragmentation of agricultural land holdings to make agriculture viable.