Land Conversion in India
Before we proceed, further let us know what we mean land conversion. It can be called as the procedure by which landed property is measured. It is the process so as to how the landed property is converted into one unit to another. To put it in more specific terms how much of land is one acre and so on.
Land is very scarce. If you look around you will find that three fourths of the face of the earth is water while one fourth is land. Now even if you dig further you will find that a large percentage of that land is agricultural land. Earlier it was not at all a major problem. However, India is indeed a over populated country. The population is not showing any signs of diminishing. In fact, it is increasing with the passing of every hour. Thus, there arose the requirement of more and more land. Land conversion thus became a necessity in a country like India. Land can be for various things. It can be needed to shelter the huge population or to create employment for the population. Land can after all be converted for multiple uses.
However if you look around you will find that whenever there has been a land acquisition in any part of the country it has created a stir. Be it Singur or Nandigram in West Bengal or Raigadh in Maharashtra in where Reliance Industries was building its special economic zone. Even recently, land was the centre stage of trouble in Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Many politicians visited the place to show sympathy to the farmers. Let us now look at the points to why do any land acquisition or conversions create any trouble and what are its remedies.
Land is after all something, which is very sentimental to the Indian farmer. This is something which is ancestors have tilted for generations. In many a Bollywood potboiler you will find farmers going all the way out to protect their land against the evil land lord who is out to grab their land. Although these are all movies, it is an unpleasant fact. Here someone will have to sit down and have a patiently and discuss the situation with these farmers.
The compensation package will have to be worked out thoroughly. It is a very important part of the process. You will find many an instance where the farmer has given the land at a government decided price. Later on when the area has been developed he feels left out. He feels he has been paid a ridiculous price. Thus, when you push for further land conversions there is stiff resistance from the farmer community. A recent and a very good example of this are in Rajarhat near Kolkata. These farmlands were acquired at ridiculous prices. Today with all multinationals entering Rajarhat real estate prices there are soaring. The farmer thus feels left out.
The other problem is that the agricultural land is the live hood for many farmers. It is like an asset from where they generate money for themselves. There can be no substitute for that. No amount of monetary compensation can fulfill its vacuum. Money can come and go but the asset is here to stay for generations. Hence, these are certain factors, which will have to be taken into consideration before they decide upon any compensation package for the effected farmers.
Now today another group, which stands affected, is the agricultural laborers and people who are tilling land, which does belong to someone else. Here the interest of these people to needs to be protected.
However, in spite of all these factors land still needs to be converted. The population burden which some of these metropolitan cities are witnessing is extraordinary. Besides employment opportunities and infrastructure to need to be created. Therefore, a correct balance will have to be maintained between the two.
Many state governments have tried to interfere in the process of converting agricultural land for various other uses. Earlier it was a thing, which was very successful in West Bengal. Patuli Township, which is on the southern suburbs of kolkata, is a very good example. Durgapur or kalyani, or Rajarhat in West Bengal are all stories of successful townships, which have been built on converted land. However today you can call it the politics of the opposition or whatever you may feel like, the farmer has become aware. The farmer in Bengal is not willing to give up his land that easily. Such is the anger within the farming community that a 34-year-old left front government has been thrown out of power. It has been reduced to a mere spectator in West Bengal politics.
Now if you consider the situation in Karnataka it has been handled better there. Not only has a land bank been built there the state government has thrown out burecratic interference out of the window. Here a single window agency has been put in place for each district to clear all files relating to that particular district. Thus, work here is moving faster and without much interference.
Well many people have tried to solve the complex issue of land conversion. The first major step in this direction will be to create a land bank. Identifying the character of the land will be another major factor. There are certain types of land which the farmers plow multiple crops all throughout the year. Farmers generally do not want to part with this sort of multiple croplands. If you have to convert, it is easier to convince farmers to part with single cropland. Most farmers if offered a nice compensation package will willingly part with the single cropland, as it is less profitable.
The whole idea is not to leave out the farmer in the development process. Therefore, the compensation amount should be something more than the price of land in the particular area. Experts will tell you that you should try to foresee the situation in advance and fix a rate, which the farmer will not regret even years down the line when the area is completely developed.
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