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Maharashtra among states with highest loss of agricultural land, says IIM-A paper

The paper says that since economic reforms began in early-1990s, about three million hectare of arable land has been lost during the study period.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai |
July 21, 2015 2:37:28 am
 IIM-A, Indian  Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, IIM-A paper,farm land, loss of farm land,  Centre for Management in Agriculture, agricultural land, umbai news, city news, local news, maharashtra news, Indian Express The paper says that conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural use has slowed largely due to land protection policies and pressure from civil society.

Seven states including Maharashtra have seen the highest loss in net sown area between 1991-92 and 2011-12, with the growing
conversion of farm land for non-agricultural uses, according to recent data released by a faculty member of the Indian Institute of
Management, Ahmedabad.

The working paper by Prof Vijay Paul Sharma, Centre for Management in Agriculture, IIM Ahmedabad, says that evidence shows
agricultural land conversion has become a serious issue in the country and net sown area in the country declined by about 1.8 million
hectare during the study period.

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The states, which have recorded the highest loss in net sown area besides Maharashtra (7.57 lakh hectare), include Odisha (17.1 lakh
hectare), followed by Bihar (12.4 lakh hectare), Tamil Nadu (7.12 lakh hectare), Karnataka (3.1 lakh hectare), Andhra Pradesh (2.73 lakh
hectare) and West Bengal (2.63 lakh hectare). In all, says the paper, an estimated 1.59 million hectare of prime farmland was converted to
non-agricultural uses during the 20-year period 1991-2011, translating into an average annual loss of over 75,000 ha of productive land.
“The issue (diversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses) has become more complex and politicised in India due to widely varied
perceptions about the extent of diversion of agricultural land and the causes and socio-economic consequences of loss of agricultural land.
It is generally perceived that large-scale conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses has occurred and the issue of acquisition
of large tracts of fertile land by corporates and displacement of farmers, agricultural workers, and other rural communities has become a
major political rather than socio-economic issue,” says the paper.

The paper says that since economic reforms began in early-1990s, about three million hectare of arable land has been lost during the study
period.

For instance, while Maharashtra lost about 4.37 lakh hectare, Odisha lost about 1.2 million hectare of agricultural land. Other states, which
registered a decline included Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab.

The paper further says while at the all India level, area under non-agricultural uses has increased by 2.36 lakh hectare per year or 646
hectare per day between TE (triennium ending) 1991-92 and TE 2011-12, states with high rate of addition to area under non-agricultural
uses (over three lakh hectare) are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan,
and Assam.

“However, the pace of agricultural land conversion has marginally slowed during the last decade — arable land from about 3.13 lakh
hectare per year in 1991-95 to 1.33 lakh hectare in 2006-10 and net sown area from about 1.72 lakh hectare in 1996-00 to net addition of
about 79,000 hectare in 2006-10 —largely because of the introduction of land protection policies and pressure from civil society, farmers
organisations and media,” the paper says.

Sharma says the trend will continue if there is no intervention by the government. Efforts should be made to bring fallow lands and
culturable wastelands under farming with proper safety nets, his paper says.

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