An expert panel appointed by NITI Aayog has submitted its recommendations to create a model law to formalise leasing of agricultural land, a senior government official said.
One of the key objectives of the model law is to facilitate insurance, disaster relief, and bank credit to the tenant without mortgaging of the leased land. Since the draft model law moots clear ownership of land with the lessor, it disallows using the asset for mortgage purposes. Agricultural land leasing has hitherto been informal due to legal restrictions imposed by some states, and the expert committee found out that these restrictions have affected agricultural productivity growth.
Due to lack of any legal framework for leasing, the informal tenants of agricultural land have, in many parts of the country, been deprived access to institutional credit, disaster relief, and other support services.
A NITI Aayog source said that the think-tank would finalise the model law in a few days after taking a holistic view of the committee report.
To review the existing agricultural tenancy laws of various states and prepare a model agricultural land leasing act, the NITI Aayog, in September 2015, had set up an Expert Committee on Land Leasing headed by T Haque.
Prior to submitting its report to the NITI Aayog, the committee held several rounds of discussion with states, farmer
organisations and civil society groups.
The situation, where beneficiaries of agricultural support services have been the land-owners and not the actual tillers, has fuelled problems of farmer suicides, default on agricultural loans among others. The proposed model law, however, does not restrict the owner of the land from selling the asset even during the lease period, as long as the cultivation rights of the tenant are not affected.