Land-Use Statistics of India – Useful Notes

The area for which data on the land-use classification are available, is known as the ‘reporting area’. In areas where the land-use classification figures are based on land records, the reporting area is the area according to village papers or records maintained by the village revenue agency and the data are based on a complete enumeration of all the areas.

In some cases, village papers are not maintained but the estimates of the area under different classes of land are based on the sample survey or other methods to complete the coverage.

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The reporting area is the aggregate of the areas based on these two methods. The areas for which no statistics are available are called ‘non-reporting area’. The whole of the reporting area is neither completely surveyed cadastral nor completely covered by complete enumeration of sample surveys. There are still pockets of areas in a few states for which only ‘ad-hoc estimates’ are prepared.

Proportion of net sown area to total geographical area varies from state to state. Arunachal Pradesh has only 3.2 per cent, while Haryana and Punjab have 82.20 per cent each. The alluvial Satluj-Ganga plains, Gujarat plains, Kathiawar plateau; Maharashtra Plateau and West Bengal basin are highly cultivated areas.

Such a high proportion of cultivated land owes to the gently sloping lands covered with fertile and easily workable alluvial and black soils, climate favouring cereal culture, excellent irrigation facilities and high population pressure. The mountainous or hilly areas and the drier belts where relief, climate and soils are not favourable to farming are not so widely cultivated.

Forests cover one-fifth of the total area of India. In principle, at least one-third of the total area should be under forest cover to maintain the ecosystem. The forests are confined to the hilly, mountainous areas. About 5.8 per cent of the land surface is barren and physically uncultivable. Permanent pastures occupy 3.63% of the total area while about 5% is classed as culturable wastes which can be brought under cultivation with efforts.

Computerization of Land Records:

As on 9 May 2009, out of India’s total 5261 Tehsils, data entry of 3537 Tehsils has been completed. Computerization of land records is a flagship program of government of India which also figures out as mission made project under NeGP.

The non reporting area is steadily declining from year to year as a result of the special efforts made by the central government. This non-reporting area is broadly of two types. First, there are the hill tracts of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh where there is very little cultivation and where, among other things owing to the peculiar nature of the terrain, the collection of the annual agricultural statistics is not only very difficult but also costly.

Secondly, there are small tracts in some states where owing to the absence of true survey agency or the village revenue agency or both, no regular statistics are collected With the extension of cadastral survey to the non-reporting areas and the setting up of the reporting agency in areas where it does not exist, the coverage of land-utilisation statistics is expected to go up.

Out of the total non-reporting area of about 22.1 million hectares about 17.7 million hectares lies in Jammu and Kashmir alone, and the remaining 4.4 million hectares lies in pockets in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Nagaland, Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The non-reporting area in Jammu and Kashmir includes the area under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and China for which agricultural statistics returns are not available.

In the temporarily settled states, there exists a village revenue agency which maintains agricultural statistics as a part of land records. These are collected on the basis of a complete field-to-field enumeration by the patwari during the periodical girdawari or harvest inspection, and are fairly reliable.

On the other hand, in the permanently settled states of West Bengal, Orissa, and Kerala, where no such revenue agency exists, agricultural statistics are based on sample surveys. In the case of some areas where neither complete enumeration nor sample surveys are in vogue, the data are based on the personal knowledge of the local officers, or are based on some old surveys which are not updated every year. The statistics in respect of these areas are, therefore, in the nature of guess-estimates.