Classification of Land-Use in India – Essay
This five-fold classification was, however, a very broad outline of land-use in the country and was not found adequate enough to meet the needs of agricultural planning in the country. The states were also finding it difficult to present comparable data according to this classification owing to the lack of uniformity in the definitions and scope of classification covered by these five broad categories.
To remove the non-comparability and to break up the broad categories into smaller constituents for better comprehension, the Technical Committee on Co-ordination of Agricultural Statistics, set up in 1948 by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, recommended a nine fold land-use classification replacing the old five-fold classification, and also recommended standard concepts and definitions for all the states to follow. The statement (in the box) gives the nine-fold classification and its relationship with the old five-fold classification:
The total of these classes under both classifications adds up to the reporting area. The revised classification has been accepted in principle by all the states and has been adopted since 1950-51, except by West Bengal, in respect of which the data are still presented on the basis of the old classification.
The above land-use classification is primarily based on whether a particular area is cultivated, grazed or forested. Its main purpose is to show the distribution in detail of the existing land according to its actual use and not how a particular piece of land can be potentially utilised.
Thus, the area under culturable waste land does not represent the area which is really culturable, as it may not be possible to bring under cultivation large part of the area, except at huge cost. Thus the potential land-use classification is beset with several difficulties, as this classification would depend upon the suitability of different areas for different uses, taking into account their natural endowments, the availability of capital and other resources for the development of land for the desired use and likely economic returns.
If the potential use of the land has to be taken into account, a large amount of data relating to the inherent characteristics of each soil type and the economics of putting it to a particular use would have to be specially collected through soil surveys, land-use surveys and land utilisation surveys.
On the basis of the above nine-fold classification, it is possible to build up the old five-fold classification as well as to arrive at the area according to concepts like ‘arable land’ or ‘potential land’ available for crop husbandry. The ‘arable land’ would comprise the ‘net area sown’ plus the current fallows’ and ‘other fallow land’.
Similarly, the ‘potential land’ available for cultivation would include besides the ‘arable land’, the land under ‘culturable waste permanent pastures and grazing land’, and miscellaneous tree crops and groves, not included in the net area sown’.
However, such potential land cannot be ascertained without surveys of the soil types and land-use and the economics of bringing them under cultivation. The utility of the above concepts of ‘arable’ and ‘potential’ land can be enhanced if some indicators of arable and potential land are computed:
i. Percentage Potential
Land exploited = Net area sown/Potential land*100
ii. Percentage Arable
Land exploited = Net area sown/arable land* 100
With the adoption of the nine-fold classification since 1950-51 an element of non-comparability has been introduced in the data before and after that year. For instance, in the old land-utilisation classification, the term ‘current fallows’ included the land lying fallow even upto a period of ten years in the former Bombay state and for two years in the former Punjab state, whereas in the revised nine-fold classification, the current fallows have been limited to the lands lying fallow for one year only and the term ‘other fallow land’ includes land lying fallow for more than one year, but less than five years.
Thus the area under ‘current fallow’ in the old five-fold classification need not necessarily add up to two sub classes in the new classification, i.e ‘current fallows’ and ‘other fallow land’ Some of the land lying fallow beyond five years may have been included in the nine-fold classification as ‘culturable waste’.
To standardize the concepts and definitions, the Technical Committee on Co-ordination of Agricultural Statistics laid down standard definitions of the various categories of land use.
Land Put to Non-Agricultural Uses:
During the recent years, there has been an increase in the area put to non-agricultural uses as expected, because as a result of increase in the development activities, more and more land is being used for industrial sites, housing, transport systems, recreational purposes, irrigation systems, etc.
States where the proportion of lands under non-agricultural uses is higher than the all-India average are Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Assam, and the Union Territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, Delhi and Pondicherry. The states which jointly account for more than two-thirds of the land under non-agricultural uses are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Orissa and Karnataka.
The other types of areas, which are covered under barren and unculturable lands, are generally unsuitable for agricultural use either because of the bad soil and topography or because of their inaccessibility. Instances are the desert areas in Rajasthan, the saline lands in parts of the Rann of Kutchch in Gujarat, the weed-infested and ravine lands in Madhya Pradesh and usar or alkaline lands in Uttar Pradesh.
The proportions of barren lands to the reporting areas are higher in the states of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and the Union Territories of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam and Maharashtra together account for more than 67 per cent of the land under this category in the country.
The other uncultivated land, excluding current fallows, covers areas classified under permanent pastures and grazing lands, the areas under miscellaneous tree crops and groves and culturable wastelands.
The states which have considerable proportions of areas under permanent pastures and grazing lands are Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tripura and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Madhya Pradesh accounts for about 24 per cent of the all-India average under pastures and grazing lands. About one-fourth of the country’s land under miscellaneous tree crops and groves lies in Uttar Pradesh. The states of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also have sizable areas under this category.
The states with substantial proportions of areas under the culturable wastelands are Rajasthan, Odisha and the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. The states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha together account for more than three-fourths of the nation’s land resources under this category. Rajasthan alone accounts for over two-fifths of the nation’s culturable wastelands.
Of the country’s total land under current fallows, the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat account for more than 90 percent.
Land lying fallow for more than one agricultural year but less than five agricultural years has decreased during the recent years. This decrease is probably due to the extension of cultivation to marginal lands as a result of the increased demand for agricultural produce, development of irrigation, etc.
Still their proportions continue to remain substantial in the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and the Union Territory of Delhi. These states account for over three-fourths of the country’s area under ‘other fallow lands’.