Guwahati, May 8: The Assam government has decided to prepare a new land law to cope with the challenges posed by changing times and technical interventions which cannot be addressed by archaic land laws.
There are at least 12 legislations, rules and manuals which govern land revenue administration in the state.
Sources said a new comprehensive law, Assam Land Revenue Code, is required as the existing laws are very old and cannot meet today’s requirements.
The government has invited firms and institutions to prepare the Code by “incorporating the elements of the existing land-related legislations, rules and manuals that are still relevant and the good practices and experiences in the field of land management from within and outside the country”.
A senior official of the state’s revenue and disaster management department said, “Two firms, one from Calcutta and the other from Mumbai, have responded”.
Although the government has amended the existing laws from time to time, the main framework has remained unchanged.
“The world has undergone considerable transformation, entailing new kinds of demands and pressures on land. This has thrown up the need for new kinds of land relations and has triggered different kinds of expectations from the administrative machinery,” the source said.
Land reform has been a major concern of the government and there are several legislations in place to ensure equitable distribution of land among the landless and deprived sections of society.
Various organisations have also been demanding a new law to face the challenges posed by changing times.
“The challenge has assumed gigantic proportions with a large section of the population rendered landless or homeless because of floods, erosion and shrinking size of land available for re-distribution. Gradual reduction in the landholding size compounds the problem and makes it necessary to redefine the whole paradigm of land reforms as an instrument of equity,” says a government notification.
It says there have been substantial changes in the overall land use pattern in the state over the years and the process is expected to intensify with the pace of urbanisation gathering momentum and growth of the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.
“While the burgeoning demands of these sectors are to be met to sustain economic growth, it is equally important to address the issues of long-term food security and conservation of land resources, keeping in mind the requirements of future generations,” the notification says.
It mentions that technology has opened up new vistas of efficiency, transparency and accountability. Hence, the traditional administrative structures and apparatuses for survey, settlement and record-keeping , among others, need to be redrafted and rescripted to embrace the concept of e-governance.
“Besides, there is a need to ensure citizens’ engagement in the land revenue administration to avoid inter-sectoral conflicts and tensions and to address the problem of corruption and undue harassment of the citizenry,” it adds.
The source said Dispur wants to develop the new land revenue code as a holistic answer to the entire gamut of challenges and opportunities thrown up by the changing times.
The Code has been envisaged to take care of issues pertaining to administrative structures, work processes and adoption of technology in the areas of management of land records, survey and mapping, land reform measures, optimal utilisation of land resources, conservation, quality of manpower and citizens’ engagement, he added.
A state-level advisory committee will examine the firm’s draft report. After incorporating all the changes, it will be placed in the Assembly. The government has set nine months’ time from the date of issue of work order to complete the Code, the source said.