Land Utilization

June 14, 2012
By Krishiworld

The pattern of land-use of a country at any particular time is determined by the physical, economic & institutional framework taken together. In other words, the existing land-use pattern in different regions in India has been evolved as the result of the action & interaction of various factors, such as the physical characteristics of land, the institutional framework, the structure of other resources (capital,labour,etc.) available & the location of the region in relation to other aspects of economic development, e.g. those relating to transport as well as to industry & trade. The present pattern can,therefore, be considered to be in some sort of static harmony & adjustment with the other main characteristics of the economy of the region. In the dynamic context, keeping in view the natural endowments & the recent advances in technology, the overall interests of a country may dictate a certain modification of or a change in the existing land-use pattern of a region. A close study of the present land-use patterns & the trends during recent years will help to suggest the scope for planned shifts in the patterns.


Out of the total geographical area of 328 million hectares, the land-use statistics are available for roughly 306 million hectares, constituting 93 percent of the total. During 1970-71 the latest year for which the land-use data are available, the arable land (the net area sown plus the current & fallow lands) was estimated at 161.3 million hectares or 52.7 percent of the total reporting area. Around 65.9 million hectares or 21.6 percent of the total area was under forests. Land put to non-agricultural uses was estimated at 16.1 million hectares(5.2 percent of the total) & the barren & unculturable land at 30.2 million hectares or 9.9 percent of the reporting area. Permanent pastures & other grazing land were estimated at 13 million hectares(4.2 percent), land under miscellaneous tree crops & groves, not included in the net area sown, at 4.3 million hectares(1.4 percent) & the culturable waste-land at another 15.2 million hectares or 5 percent. These figures add up to 306 million hectares of the reporting area.

The area,for which data on the land-use clasification 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 & 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. 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 cadastrally 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. Of the total geographical area, only 80.7 percent is cadastrally surveyed. Of the cadastrally surveyed areas, 91.4 percent has a permanent reporting agency, whereas 8.6 percent has no reporting agency.

An idea of the latest position, regarding the ‘reporting area’ adopting different methods of reporting in different states can be had from Table 1.

TABLE 1. Area under different systems of reporting land-utilisation statistics-Statewise-1970-71
S.No. State/Union Territory Geographical area Complete enumeration Sample surveys Ad-hoc estimates Non-reporting area
1 Andhra Pradesh 27.7 26.4 - 1.0 0.3
2 Assam 7.9 7.0 - 0.8 0.1
3 Bihar 17.4 17.3 - - 0.1
4 Gujarat 19.6 18.6 - - 1.0
5 Haryana 4.4 4.4 - - -
6 Himachal Pradesh 5.6 4.9 - 0.2 0.5
7 Jammu & Kashmir 22.2* 4.5 - - 17.7
8 Karnataka 19.2 18.9 - - 0.3
9 Kerala 3.9 - 3.9 - -
10 Madhya Pradesh 44.3 44.2 - - 0.1
11 Maharashtra 30.8 28.9 - 1.9 -
12 Manipur 2.2 0.1 - 2.1 -
13 Meghalaya 2.3 - - 2.3 -
14 Nagaland 1.7 - - 1.4 0.3
15 Orissa 15.6 - 15.5 - 0.1
16 Punjab 5.0 5.0 - - -
17 Rajasthan 34.2 30.4 - 3.7 0.1
18 Tamil Nadu 13.0 12.8 - 0.2 -
19 Tripura 1.0 - - 1.0 -
20 Uttar Pradesh 29.4 25.6 - 4.2 -
21 West Bengal 8.8 - 8.9 - -
22 Andaman & Nicobar Islands 0.8 0.7 - 0.1 -
23 Arunachal Pradesh 8.4 - - 6.4 2.0
24 Delhi 0.1 0.1 - - -
25 Mizoram 2.1 - - 2.1 -
26 Others** 0.5 - - 0.5 -
All India 328.1 249.8 28.3 27.9 22.1***


- = Nil or negligible.*Includes the area under the unlawful occupation of China & Pakistan.** Includes Dadra,Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman & Diu, Laccadive, Amandivi & Minicoy Islands & Pondicherry.*** In some states, the reporting area, according to village papers, is slightly more than the geographical area according to the Surveyor-General. As such, the sum of the non-reporting areas in different states does not tally with the All-India non-reporting area.

The non-reporting area is steadily declining from year to year as a result of the special efforts made by the central government & the state governments, & in 1970-71, it stood at about 7 percent of the geographical area. This non-reporting area is broadly of two types. First, there are the hill tracts of Jammu & Kashmir & Arunachal Pradesh where there is very little cultivation & 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 smalltracts in some states where owing to the absence of the 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 & 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. During 1970-71. out of the total non-reporting area of about 22.1 million hectares, about 17.7 million hectares lies in Jammu & Kashmir alone, & the remaining 4.4 million hectares lies in pockets in the states of Andhra Pradesh,Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Nagaland, Rajasthan & the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The non-reporting area in Jammu & Kashmir includes the area under the illegal occupation of Pakistan & 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, & are fairly reliable. On the other hand, in the permanently settled states of west Bengal, Orissa, & 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.

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