Land is an important source of identity, symbol of social status and foundation for rural power in India, often carrying significant emotional attachment. With a long history, diverse geography and pluralistic culture, land governance has evolved in India through communal, imperial, feudal, colonial and modern systems, gradually moving towards individualization and conclusive titling. Contemporary land tenure is dotted with mosaics of customary tenure and community ownership in tribal and hilly areas and dwindling rural common lands amidst expanding of privatized spaces in urban and industrial areas getting converted from once predominant forest and agriculture landscapes. Indian land governance is at a transition between nation’s economic growth aspirations incumbent upon making land available for investments, while the socialist state is committed to an agenda on land and forest reforms that allocate to and recognize the rights of landless and tribal respectively on government and forestlands. Environmental concerns restrict diversion of forestlands and promote expansion of protected areas. Land conflicts are on the rise as a result of competition, continued lack of tenure clarity around common lands and increasing demands for higher compensation for private lands, which bottlenecks investments.

Land governance in India in the post-independent period has evolved as a state-subject, with the land-revenue department as the main custodian, while the actual responsibility is shared by number of departments and agencies at the state and local level, making land governance complex with overlapping jurisdictions. There are high transaction costs to access and transfer land.  Land-related disputes constitute more than half of disputes in civil and a significant number in criminal courts cases, which are often dragged for long duration  and drain private and public resources.

Federal and state governments have brought in many institutional innovations, adopted new technologies to improve land records management, promoted women land rights, facilitated alternate dispute resolution and are now contemplating tenancy reforms. The last seventy years of land governance can be broadly divided into four phases of reforms:

  • 1) land reform aiming land to cultivators during 1960s-80s;
  • 2) attempts at involving local self governance institutions through decentralization of land governance,
  • 3) digitization of land records aiming at conclusive titling in the early 21st century; and
  • 4) forest, land acquisition, and tenancy reforms occuring mostly in the current decade. 
Source of the narrative

Disclaimer: The data displayed on the Land Portal is provided by third parties indicated as the data source or as the data provider. The Land Portal team is constantly working to ensure the highest possible standard of data quality and accuracy, yet the data is by its nature approximate and will contain some inaccuracies. The data may contain errors introduced by the data provider(s) and/or by the Land Portal team. In addition, this page allows you to compare data from different sources, but not all indicators are necessarily statistically comparable. The Land Portal Foundation (A) expressly disclaims the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any data and (B) shall not be liable for any errors, omissions or other defects in, delays or interruptions in such data, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Neither the Land Portal Foundation nor any of its data providers will be liable for any damages relating to your use of the data provided herein.


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Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF)

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    • Very Good Practice
    • Good Practice
    • Weak Practice
    • Very Weak Practice
    • Missing Value

    Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure

    Legend: National laws adoption of the VGGT principle
    • Fully adopt
    • Partially adopt
    • Not adopted
    • Missing Value

    Note: The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (The VGGTs) were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in 2012.

    The "VGGT indicators" dataset has been created by Nicholas K. Tagliarino, PhD Candidate at the University of Groningen, with support from Daniel Babare and Myat Noe (LLB Students, University of Groningen). The indicators assess national laws in 50 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America against international standards on expropriation, compensation, and resettlement as established by Section 16 of the VGGTs.

    Each indicator relates to a principle established in section 16 of the VGGTs. Hold the mouse against the small "i" button above for a more detailed explanation of the indicator.

    Answering the questions posed by these indicators entails analyzing a broad range of national-level laws, including national constitutions, land acquisition acts, land acts, community land acts, agricultural land acts, land use regulations, and some court decisions.


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    Displaying 1 - 6 of 1315
    Reports & Research
    July 2017

    Land is an important source of identity and a precious asset with significant emotional connection in India. It is also the main source of rural and feudal power structure for most of India’s history. Land is a symbol of social status, cultural identity and an expression of political power. The value of land is deeply ingrained in the consciousness and well-being of the poor farmers and indigenous communities who make up a substantial portion of India’s total population.

    June 2017

    Live statistics of forest and wildlife area clearances given by Ministry for diversion to non-forestry purpose for investment. Organized as per stages of clearance, level (district, state, national) where the proposal is being considered, Searchable database indicating state, proposal name, user agency, forest area requested, status of area clearance along with link to reports.

    Conference Papers & Reports
    March 2017

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    Administrative Data for Monitoring and Improving Land Policy and Governance in India
    Conference Papers & Reports
    March 2017

    The study tried to assess the state of data in India, particularly to track and report two critical land governance indicators viz. women land rights and forest rights, critical to ensure equity and sustainability in terms of public policy. 
    With UN’s SDG, defining similar indicators, study  also attempts in aligning them around SDG indicators. Status of these two parameters were analyzed using nation-wide datasets collecting whole population data, through census of India, Agriculture Census  operations following robust processes and reporting them open access.

    Reports & Research
    February 2017

    This report produced by Centre for Policy Research (CPR) a comprehensive and systematic study of Supreme Court cases on land acquisition from 1950- 2016 and examined particular conflicts involving major dams, special economic zones, housing complexes and industrial projects. It highlight  the legal trajectory of land acquisition in India and attempt to provide deep understanding on how disputes over land are actually adjudicated in the Supreme Court and nature and pattern of litigation.