Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Land Use Planning for Judicious Use of Valuable Land for Establishment of Agro-Economic Zones in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh,

For having an all round development of the economy the need of the hour is to have sound land use planning that can help to mitigate the negative effects of land use and enhance the efficient use of resources with minimal impact on future generations. Instead of encroaching on fertile land for the establishment of agro-economic zones we should aim to set it up on barren and uncultivable land further if they are exhausted or unavailable we should go for cultivable wasteland as a last option. It would be a great blunder if we continue to shift our valuable fertile agricultural land for purposes other than agriculture and its allied purposes. Let more investment on infrastructure may be allowed in distant barren and uncultivable lands for the time being but in long run our agricultural land would be saved for us as well as for our coming generation.
Keywords: Land-Use, Planning, Agro-Economic Zones, Wasteland.

(please see full article with tables in PDF file)

1.0 Introduction
Land is an essential pre-requisite both for primary production system as well as for meeting social priorities and therefore, must be available in adequate extent and desired quality. With the growth and development of economy we observe that the per capita availability of the resource is declining due to various reasons. Successful development planning for future will now depend on scientific land use planning with specific consideration to maintaining and improving the interrelationship between land and water cycles. In developing countries like India, problems of soil erosion and land degradation are intimately associated with land husbandry as well as growth promoting developmental activities. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure generation of sustainable livelihood in terms of food and income through proper maintenance and enhancement of the productivity of the resource base on a long term basis. Our aim to save the degrading land resource is due to the fact all the agricultural activities depend on the physical environment in which he is living and not only does his survival depends upon the food production he produces but agriculture sector plays a strategic role in the process of economic development.

But with the growing rate of urbanization and increasing population the acquisition of the land for non farm activities have been very rampant in all over India in many cases the land acquisition has been for the setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and it has put a important focus on the loss of agricultural land. As this problem has been addressed in a National Development Council meeting on December 23, 2006, by our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he said that: “I agree that we must minimize the diversion of agricultural land and, given the choice, must opt for using wasteland for non-agricultural purposes. However, it must be kept in mind that industrialization is a national necessity if we have to reduce the pressure on agriculture and provide gainful, productive employment to millions of our youth who see no future in agriculture.” This land acquisition for any purpose other than agriculture has been modifying the land use pattern of India and often has turn out to be negative to a much extent. Uttar Pradesh one of the most populous state of India is no exceptional with the passing of time more and more fertile land are being acquired either willingly or forcibly in the name of development.

2.0 Agricultural Overview of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh that accommodates 166.2 million populations with a density of 690 persons per square kilometer. The state has total 242.02 lakh hectare is reported area out of which 167.50 lakh hectare is brought under cultivation. About 58 lakh hectares of wastelands have been treated and brought under cultivation. Approximately 31.4 per cent of fertile land is being used for non-agricultural uses when approximately 30 per cent of the states income comes from agriculture. While on the other hand the forest cover that plays an important role in balancing the ecosystem is less than 7.0 per cent and that too is not effectively covered by forests. When according to forest policy it should have been one-third forest cover for healthy environment. Adverse environmental impact is now reflected in falling yield and increasing other fallow and current fallow lands as it is becoming uneconomical to cultivate. For example in Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Lucknow and Unnao districts other and current fallow lands have increased up to 15.0 per cent. In U.P. cereal production was 41.76 million metric tones in 2001-02 which has fallen to 37.57 million metric tones in 2004-05 due to land degradation. Though during the last 50 years we have treated most of the wastelands and added mostly with agricultural land, but it is reported that after few years of cropping, land is again becoming infertile and uneconomical. Uneconomic agriculture, landlessness among rural masses and quest of modernization has created momentum to migrate from rural to urban areas that too towards metropolitan cities, where congestion and pollution is unimaginable. During last fifty years the land under non-farm use related to mainly urban has almost doubled, which would continue to grow. More than 50.0 per cent districts are showing above the state average, i.e., 10.6 per cent land under non-farm use. In Ambedkar Nagar, Kushi Nagar, Sant Ravi Das Nagar and Ghaziabad districts, the land under non-farm use has crossed beyond 15.0 per cent and many other districts are on the same trend.

2.1 Existing Land Use
If we analyze the land utilization during 2002 and 2005 we find that during these five years the land put to non-agricultural uses has risen 5.3 per cent and the current fallow has risen to 18.6 per cent and as a result the land which is lifeline, i.e. forest land and net area sown has decreased to 0.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively. The land put to non-agricultural uses is occupying about 10.9 per cent area and in most of the cases it is expanding on most of the fertile lands when this land is important for food grain production for feeding the teeming millions. We are in deficit of 23 per cent of forest cover which is necessary to meet the National Forest Policy and as well to provide the better environment and retain the fertility of the soil. Urbanization and industrialization are the dialectal phenomenon which cannot be stopped but we must have certain policy to control their haphazard growth. (See Table: 1)

2.2 Growing Trend of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses
The annual growth rate of land put to non-agricultural uses in Uttar Pradesh is not uniformed. During 2001 and 2002 the growth rate was 3.2 per cent which dropped to 1.6 per cent during 2002 and 2003 but again it has risen to 2.1 per cent during 2004 and 2005. It is expected that during recent yeas the growth rate is much faster. (See Table: 2)

2.3 Regional Pattern of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses
Since Uttar Pradesh is one of the largest States the land put to non-agricultural uses in rural and urban areas has been worked out according to its four geographical regions[(i)Western region,(ii)Central region,(iii)Bundelkhand &(iv)Eastern region] during 2001 and 2008. Comparatively Western region is highest urbanized in Uttar Pradesh but its growth rate during 2001 and 2008 is less than the State average in both rural and urban land put to non-agricultural uses. The Central region has recently (2008) surpassed the State average in its rural and urban land put to non-agricultural uses. The growth of land put to non-agricultural uses in rural areas has risen to 19.1 per cent whereas in urban areas the growth was 43.0 per cent during 2001 and 2008. Similarly in Bundelkhand during last eight years the growth rate has gone up to 17.6 per cent in rural areas and 30.6 per cent in urban areas. In case of Eastern region the growth rate in rural and urban areas of land put to non-agricultural uses was higher than the Western region but quite far behind than the Central region and Bundelkhand, i.e., 11.3 and 4.8 per cent respectively. Overall the growth rate of total land put to non-agricultural uses was below the State average in only Western region but in Central region, Bundelkhand and Eastern regions it was quite high, i.e. 22.2, 18.5 and 10.7 per cent respectively. The growth of rural and urban land put to non-agricultural uses is alarmingly high in Central region and Bundelkhand which needs an urgent policy and control measures. (See Table: 3)

2.4 Districts Having Fast Growth of Land Put to Non- Agricultural Uses
During 2008 there are districts in Uttar Pradesh where rural land put to non-agricultural uses has gone up quite high than the State average 10.7 per cent. For example highest proportion of land put to non-agricultural uses are occupied in districts like Ghaziabad 18.4, Ambedkar Nagar 17.6, Kushi Nagar 17.4, Sant Kabir Nagar 15.3, Ballia 14.8, Ghazipur 14.0 per cent. While calculating the growth rate during 2001 and 2008 we worked out the average annual growth rate of rural areas put to non-agricultural uses and the State average comes 1.5 per cent there are districts where the annual growth rate is manifold than the State average, for example, Chitrakoot 10.4, Faizabad 8.7, Mahoba 6.6, Kanpur Urban 6.5, Unnao 5.6 and Ambedkar Nagar 5.0 per cent. In most of the cases the land put to non-agricultural uses in rural areas is in fact influenced by neighboring towns and cities which are in the process of transition to become urban land. For vertical industrial and urban growth or vertical settlements in rural areas there is an urgent need of government policy which should be strictly implemented through the Town and Country Planning. (See Table: 4)

2.5 Fast Growth of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses in Blocks
If we go to micro-block level to understand the fast growth of rural land put to non-agricultural uses, we find at least 29 blocks are showing very fast growth rate, there are blocks like Razapur block, Loni block in Ghaziabad, Morava block in Muzaffarnagar, Kashi Vidyapeeth block in Varanasi and Kaurihar block in Allahabad where land put to non-agricultural uses is occupying more than one-fifth of the total area of each respective block. There are blocks where annual growth rate is more than 10 per cent which are Dabri block in Gautam Budh Nagar, Sarojininagar block in Lucknow, Rasulabagh block in Kanpur Dehat and Bhitargaon in Kanpur Nagar (See Table: 5)

3.0 Need of Agro-Economic Zone
With the passage of time the conversion of farm land for non farm activities has been at a faster rate and often these non farm activities around the farm lands have an adverse affect on the crop growth. This conversion of farm land into non farm land opens the gate for an intensive rate of the acquisition of land for non farm activities. The prevailing practice is to acquire land on the fringe of the cities where most of the infrastructures are available and market forces are playing. So for higher monetary gains the valuable agricultural land is acquired from innocent farmers by luring/inducing/forcing them by the money/muscle power. The farmers who have been depended upon the agriculture since centuries tend to sell off their land but it takes at least one century for them to adjust with the non farm activities. The processes of land acquisition along with the adverse impact of the Green Revolution on the soil fertility as well as the irregular monsoonal rainfall have brought down the food production. As according to the latest economic survey conducted by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) (Oct. 27, 2009) “Decline in acreage and expected fall in yield will lead to a 16 per cent drop in kharif food grain production. It is expected to fall to 98 million tonnes from 117.7 million tonnes produced in kharif 2008.” Further if we analyze just the production of wheat one of the major food crops we observe that its production per hectare was 2708 kg in the year 2000-01 but it decreased to only 2602 kg per hectare in 2004-05 that is at the national level the per hectare production of wheat has dipped 106 kg. This is when as well known that the population growth have till now shown an upward trend.

We do we cannot deny the fact that urbanization and industrialization brings with it development and we cannot just deny being an agrarian economy as still about 60.0 per cent rural population of India depends upon the agriculture. The answer is to have Agro Economic Zones on the line and pattern of Special Economic Zone that will on one hand boost the economy of the said area because it will be able to generate employment for the local inhabitants and on the other hand will help in giving a boost to the agrarian economy of the state and country as a whole.

3.1 Priority of Land Acquisition for Agro- Economic Zone
It is high time that we must save our agricultural land and must disperse our urbanization in all the regions in a balance way if Agricultural Economic Zones (AEZ) is located adjacent to small and medium towns where non-agricultural lands are available. Maybe more infrastructure would be required for the zones to be established in these areas but in the longer run we will be able to reap benefits from our hardships. Our aim in this would be to save our valuable fertile agricultural land and allow the small and medium towns to grow parallel to bigger cities; this would further pave the way for a sustainable urban growth.

The alternative of saving valuable agricultural land and so as to achieve a balanced urbanization our option is to utilize our land which is available in the form of barren and uncultivable wasteland as a first priority after the first priority is exhausted or no more available in a particular district we should go for barren cultivable wasteland as a second priority. Similarly the last option for acquiring the land should be of old fallow land of more than five years. During 2004-05 in nearly 28 districts of Uttar Pradesh barren and uncultivable lands that are more than the State average is available. Similarly barren and cultivable wasteland and old fallow land are available in 25 and 24 districts of Uttar Pradesh respectively, which are more than the State average. The fact is further stressed upon that it has been experienced that the revenue records of the State do not show the right picture of the land use statistics, therefore satellite imageries should be the basis for occupying these non agricultural lands for agro economic zones.(See Table: 6)

3.2 Policy Formulation for Agro Economic Zones
For establishment of the Agro- Economic Zones all primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in the rural economy should be combined in the agro activity-centered growth. It should aim towards the development of agro based industries in the state of Uttar Pradesh and transform the state into a major agro industrial hub. So as to attract more investors towards the agro economic zones the Uttar Pradesh Agro Economic Zone (AEZ) Policy should provide the promoters and the investors with a unique double way exemptions and incentives plan. The development plan pertaining to the Uttar Pradesh AEZ should be divided into different categories based upon the priority list given above.

Features of Uttar Pradesh AEZ Policy should be that-
The methods used in the acquisition of lands should be highly effective and time conserving.
The use of single window system pertaining to granting of permits and approvals based on the issues such as work force and environment should be propagated.
There should be exemptions pertaining to registration fees and stamp duties.
The exemptions from different kinds of tariffs, local and state duties, and taxes pertaining to the functions in the Agro Economic Zones should be considered.
Permission pertaining to the setting up of power generation units by the manufacturing units for their own use should be allowed.

Issues related to Uttar Pradesh Agro Economic Zone are-
Law and order:
For regulating law and order the State Government of Uttar Pradesh should take appropriate measures
Taxes, duties, local taxes levied by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh: All kind of taxes levied by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh including sales tax, purchase tax, cess, octroi, etc. related to the supply of services and goods should be exempted.

Water Supply:
The area of the Agro Economic Zone should have adequate supply of water as suggested by the administrative authority of the AEZ.

Power Supply:
The area of AEZ should have continuous supply of power and also have back up power service in case of stand by situations.

Registration of SSI and IT enabled services:
The administrative authorities should be empowered to grant permanent and provisional registration for the small-scale industry and information technology enabled service units that are either related to the agriculture or should be able to boost the agro economy of the zone.

4.0 Conclusion
Though in India agriculture is not so lucrative because of many geographical and social factors but agricultural land whatever it is available with us should be maintained intact. Despite of globalization agriculture is the fundamental basis of India’s survival therefore we must have a proper strategy to for land use planning in a scientific manner. The lands that are not being cultivated that are barren and uncultivable wasteland as well as old fallows are enough to meet our urban demands and Special Economic Zones/ Agro Economic Zones. Simply on the basis of availability of infrastructure or agricultural land we should not go for establishing these zones; it would be a serious mistake which would be irreversible. Therefore, it is most essential to identify the non-agricultural land through satellite imageries and it should be a compulsion to utilize these non-agricultural lands on priority basis. Agricultural land should not be allowed simply on the basis of market forces, there should be strict check and control on the basis of clear cut formulated policies at all cost.

Article by:
Prof.(Dr.) S.S.A. Jafri
Giri Institute of Development Studies
Ms. Milita Haldar
Lecturer, Shri Ramswaroop Memorial Engineering and Management College, Lucknow and
Doctoral Fellow,
Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow

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  • Table 1: Land Utilization in Uttar Pradesh: 2002 & 2005
    Source: (a) Based on Statistical Abstract of U.P., 2006.
    (b) Sankhyakiya Patrika of U.P.
  • Table 2: Annual Growth Trend of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses in Uttar Pradesh, 2001-2005
    Source: Based upon Statistical Abstract of U.P., 2007
  • Table 3: Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses in Regions of Uttar Pradesh, 2001 & 2008
    Source: Based on Sankhyakiya Patrika of U.P. (upgov.up.nic.in/engspatrika)
    Table 4: Districts of Fast Growth (Above Average) of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses in Rural Areas of Uttar Pradesh, 2001 & 2008
    Source: Based on Sankhyakiya Patrika of U.P. (upgov.up.nic.in/engspatrika)
  • Table 5: Block-wise Growth of Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses, 1998 & 2008
    Source: Based on Sankhyakiya Patrika of U.P. (upgov.up.nic.in/engspatrika)
    Source: Based on Sankhyaki Patrika, State Planning Department, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh.