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Land Policies in Assam

An Overview of Land Policies in Assam

Over the last hundred years, the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation,1886 remained the basic laws of land in Assam. During the British rule the Government had to supplement the regulation by various pronouncements of Land Policies. After the creation of a Governors province in 1921, these Land Policies particularly the issues relating to the opening up of the vacant tracts and settlement of land to various committees have engaged the Govt.’s attention. During British rule a systematic land settlement rule was adopted in 1870, and the settlement of land was to be made only on the basis of fixed principles. The term of settlement of land held permanently was to be ordinary ten years with discretion to the Commission to make it for 15 years and the settlement was to be made with occupant cultivators. Permanent holdings were heritable and transferable on the condition that transfers are registered. Since then various land policies were adopted in Pre 1870, 1870, 1939, 1940, 1942 1943, 1945. After attainment of independence various land policies had to be adopted by the Govt. in 1950, 1958, 1968, 1972 and 1989.

With the growth of population and the progress of land reclamation, the circumstances changed from time to time and the settlement policy in respects of agricultural land in Assam had to be adopted according to the conditions prevailing from time to time. The permanent settlement was introduced in most of the areas in Goalpara district and Karimganj sub-divisions of erstwhile Cachar district. The Sidli and Bijni estates in Goalpara had a particular status of their own and were called “Acknowledge Estate’s . In other plain districts there were Temporarily settled estate, there are Lakheraj land paying full revenue of lands paying half the revenue and Khiraj lands paying full revenue of Lands there are periodic patta lands with transferable rights and Annual Patta lands without heritable and transferable rights. During the last century vast tracts were lying waste in jungle. In order to encourage the tea cultivations , Fee Simple grants were made with the tea planters. Tea coffee, Citronella are special cultivation. The Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886 is a great landmark in the Land and Revenue administration in Assam. It has granted land rights to the occupant cultivators.The term of settlement was fixed for 30 years as per provision of "The Assam Land and Revenue Re-assessment Act, 1936".But as per amendment brought in 1990, the State Government may fix a shorter term of settlement of land other than town land (i.e. rural area) as decided by the Govt. As per amendment brought in 1886, the Govt. have the power to order settlement of all classes on f land before the expiry of term of existing lease. In rural areas if agricultural land is used for industrial or trade site purposes the asessment may be revised before the expiry of the term of lease. In town land if the agricultural land are used for residential purposes and if the residential sites are used for trade purpose the reassessment may be taken up before the expiry of the term of lease or the terminal year of the town land.

With the growth of population and the progress of land reclamation, the circumstances have changed from time to time and the policy regarding settlement had to be modified to suit the conditions prevailing at particular times. The land settlement policy in respect of agriculture lands in Assam had to be adopted according to the conditions prevailing from time to time. In due course of time the land use pattern has also been changed. So, the Govt. have to take up land policies in respect of other lands too. In this way various land settlement policies have been taken up, conditioned by the changing circumstances.

Land Policies with some basic provisions in Assam may be discussed on the following heads-

  1. During British Period:
    • Pre-1870 Period
    • Post 1870 Period (Land Policy, 1870; Illam Settlement, 1876; The Decennial Settlement Rules, 1883, Cadastral Survey, 1882; Settlement of five upper districts, 1893, Land Policies of 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943 & 1945)
  2. Post Independence Period: Land Policies of 1950, 1958, 1968, 1972, 1989.