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How much of surplus land is available?

Ch. Prashanth Reddy

Hyderabad , Nov. 1

WHAT is the extent of surplus agricultural land available in Andhra Pradesh for distribution to the landless poor?

The figure might run into lakhs of acres, if we go by the contention of CPI Maoist leaders, who are currently on a land distribution spree in the State.

However, only 1,936.01 acres of surplus land is readily available for distribution at present, as per the documents circulated by the AMR - Andhra Pradesh Academy of Rural Development (APARD), a State Government outfit, at a workshop on `Land and the Poor' here on Monday.

From January 1,1975, when the A. P. Land Reforms (Ceilings on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 came into force, till September 30, 2004, the surplus land declared in the State stood at 7,89,911 acres. Of this, the Government had distributed 5,82,374 acres to 5,26,259 acres to the landless poor in the State.

Nearly 2,07,536 acres of land had been declared surplus but it was not distributed by the State Government. The Government could not distribute 1,47,384 acres of land, as it is under litigation in courts. On the other hand, 10,291 acres of land has not been distributed, as it is unfit for cultivation.

While 16,690 acres has been reserved or transferred for public purpose, land to the tune 31,234 acres has not been distributed due to various reasons, including administrative delay.

Consequently, just 1,936 acres of surplus land is currently available for distribution.

The APARD papers also state that there are several reasons for filing of cases in courts by the declarants. A number of cases have been filed on wrong determination of surplus land by the land reforms authorities, which have not verified the status of legal heirs, gift deeds and land already transferred to another party by the declarant.

A huge number of cases are being ordered by the courts in favour of the declarants due to delay in filing the counters by the authorities and on account of not furnishing the required documentary evidences to the courts.

The documents stated that the lack of awareness of Revenue laws among the employees on duty, lack of proper maintenance of revenue records and inadequate checking by the implementation authorities are also some of the shortcomings in the implementation of land reforms.

Especially, there had been some indifference towards implementation of reforms, as they were being continued since a long time.

In view of the above factors, the documents suggested certain measures to be adopted for effective implementation of land reforms.

These included improving the skills of the Revenue Department's staff, re-opening of cases that were disposed by the courts on the grounds of delay and re-verification of all the holdings prior to 1984.

More Stories on : Rural Development | Andhra Pradesh

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