As per the latest Land Use Statistics data (LUS, 2010-11) compiled by Directorate of Economics and Statistics; Ministry of Agriculture, the agricultural land in the country has marginally shrunk to 182.0 million hectares in 2010-11 as compared to 183.6 million hectares in 2001-02.
As per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, Land falls under the purview of State Government and therefore, it is for the State Governments to bring in suitable Policy/Act Legislation to check the diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. To prevent conversion of agricultural land for non agricultural purposes, Government has also taken several steps:-
National Policy for Farmers 2007 (NPF 2007): National Policy for Farmers, 2007 has recommended that Prime farmland must be conserved for agriculture except under exceptional circumstances, provided that the agencies that are provided with agricultural land for non-agricultural projects should compensate for treatment and full development of equivalent degraded/wastelands elsewhere. For non-agricultural purposes, as far as possible, land with low biological potential for farming would be earmarked and allocated. State Governments have been advised to earmark lands with low biological potential such as uncultivable land, land affected by salinity, acidity, etc. for non-agricultural development activities, including industrial and construction activities.
National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007 (NRRP, 2007): National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007 formulated by Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources has recommended that as far as possible, projects may be set up on wastelands, degraded land or un-irrigated land. Acquisition of agricultural land for non agricultural use in project may be kept to the minimum; multi-cropped land may be avoided to the extent possible for such purposes, and acquisition of irrigated land, if unavoidable, may be kept to the minimum. These policies have been sent to the States/UTs for implementation.
Further, to increase the agricultural land area in the country and for maintaining balance in different types of land uses,, the Government is implementing various Programmes/Schemes, such as, (i) National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA), (ii) Soil Conservation in the Catchments of River Valley Projects and Flood Prone Rivers (RVP &FPR), (iii) Reclamation & Development of Alkali and Acid Soils (RADAS) and (iv) Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA).
This information was given today by Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Shri Tariq Anwar in a written reply to Rajya Sabha questions.