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Laying the ground for land policy reform
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-01-26 City : Chennai
Major land policy changes are being planned in kerela.

A look Kerala is a embarking on a process of major reform that will change the way land is bought and sold in the state. And also in the way it is put to various uses. But the laws will take time to be put in place.

     Computerisation of government departments is one step. As for now, computerization included, resurvey of land, fair value fixation, having a land information system, digitizing of land records and other works have only been partially completed at some places or yet to begin in most others.

     Minister for Revenue K.P.Rajendran has come up with a paper on the draft policy, which will be discussed with experts and officials and then be presented to the Assembly in the final format. Discussions will be held in Thiruvanathapuram, Alappuzha and Kannur regarding the draft on land policy reform.

     Considering the state’s diversity, each place will have its own uniqueness that will have to be taken in to account before allowing developmental activities, as also drawing the line for reform.

     The reforms have become imminent as the land mafia had been active in the state for quite some time, pushing upland prices to unbelievable levels in a short period, said an official.


Fair values


     Fixing of fair value, the work which is currently going on, will be done scientifically and it will be reviewed after a minimum period. The new fair-value system, if introduced, will be actually helpful as most of the NRIs, who are leading land buyers, can enter into land deals without having to bother about paying money in black.

     The government is working on putting up a land information system in place that would also give information about the wetlands in the state. The state will also have a Wetland Management system. Such information will help protect rivers, backwaters, ponds and canals from pollution. Land conversion will be strictly regulated, according to the draft of the policy document.


Different zones


     The land in the state will be divided into different zones and land use patterns will be defined. This will help check conversion of land.

     The land use patterns will be d revised periodically by a state-level committee set up with experts in the field. Expertise form the technical research institutes in this sector will be used effectively for deciding the land use patterns. There will also be district-level review committees.

     Land encroachment in coastal zones will be strictly monitored. Rules to counter paddy field conservation will be strengthened. The state will declare certain areas as paddy zones. No conversion of land from this zone will be allowed. Environment protection will be ensured for any development activity by setting up a regional three tier governing committee, which will have members from different government departments of non-government organizations.

     The draft also says that government will not give away land on private ownership basis to industries or corporate houses; instead it will be given on long lease.

     According to officials in the Ministry, the industrialists will not have to worry about land availability as the government will lease out land. But the ground reality remains that the state does not have land available for such use to the extent that the neighboring states do.

     The government is also thinking in terms of making the transactions as open as possible by introducing a new system during registration. While now the photographs of the buyer and seller are important now, the new system will make it compulsory for those involved to appear at the registration office, where photographs will be taken and affixed to the registration document. The new system will be somewhat like what the one being followed by the Karnataka government, said an official.



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