Concise Summary of NLUP
NEW LAND USE POLICY IMPLEMENTING BOARD
NEW LAND USE POLICY
An Inclusive and Transformational Development Project of the Government of Mizoram – A Concise Summary
Prepared and Published by the NLUP Implementing Board, Aizawl, Mizoram
THE NEW LAND USE POLICY
(A project of the Government of Mizoram funded by the Government of India)
The following is a summary of the Government of Mizoram’s New Land Use Policy the implementation of which was commenced on January 14th, 2011. This summary also contains an implementation report up to March, 2012. Eight Departments of the Government of Mizoram are involved directly with beneficiaries and implementation process while two other Departments plus all District Administrations are involved in the implementation facilitation processes.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF LAND USE IN MIZORAM
The mainly agrarian Mizo population has an age-old practice of farming by which each family would clear a patch of jungle by cutting down whatever is growing in that patch and later burning whatever has been cut down after they have dried on the ground. The ashes left behind thus become the fertilizer and this cleared and burnt patch of land is used for the cultivation of the main staple rice and other subsidiary crops such as tobacco, cotton, chilli and vegetables.
The problem with this slash and burn method of farming, also called jhum cultivation or jhumming, is that once the produce are harvested, the land becomes barren and cannot be reused until a decade or so has passed. So a new patch of land has to be cleared and burnt year after year. This type of farming system is not only destructive for the environment, but also highly unprofitable - and labour consuming - as one can barely harvest a year’s supply of crops for one’s use. As a result of this and the growing population, Mizoram’s lands have slowly lost their fertility and wooded areas over the decades to an alarming degree. This resulted in drying up of springs and rivers and depletion of underground water reserves and loss of precious fertile top soil.
It was not as if there had been no attempt to control land use in Mizoram. The Government of India first initiated such a move during the 1st Five Year Plan (1951-56). The Village Council Act of 1953, through which Village Councils were given wide ranging powers for the management of land, was the first empowerment of a local Government for land management in Mizoram. Then there came the Lushai Hills District (Jhumming) Regulation Act of 1954. Post 1972, after Mizoram was accorded the status of Union Territory, the various Mizoram Governments had tried to control the prevailing traditional jhum cultivation until 1984 when the idea of a New Land Use Policy was conceived by the then Congress ministry.
CONCEPT AND DESIGN OF THE NEW LAND USE POLICY (NLUP)
Birth of the policy
The NLUP has a history of nearly three decades during which it was implemented on and off, developed and streamlined through the process of experience gained as it was a new concept that has never been attempted before either by the Government of Mizoram or the Government of India. It is a courageous and ambitious political vision adhered to with tenacity by the Government of Mizoram when run by a Congress Ministry.
With a view to the grave economic deprivation of the common people, especially the farmers who constitute about 70 per cent of the total population of Mizoram, the Government of Mizoram conceived a policy in 1984 which was implemented in a small scale during 1985 - 1992. While the birth of this New Land Use Policy was prompted, at first, by the destruction of forests and wooded areas of land through the uneconomical, labour-intensive slash and burn method and the economic hardships faced by the majority of the Mizo population, it was later developed into a more resourceful project during 1993-1998 when the Congress Ministry again came to power. This time round, it was implemented on a larger scale than the previous one and the project managed to encompass around 35,000 families during a two-year period. The policy was again implemented in 2011 after the Congress came to power once more in 2008 year-end. More modifications and a better framework were made to the policy following suggestions from the Government of India that envisaged a five-year period for the project to be completed with a project cost of a staggering Rs 2,800 crores (around 50 million US dollars).
The actual groundwork for the implementation process was commenced in 2009 when the Government of Mizoram constituted the top authority for NLUP called New Land Use Policy Apex Board chaired by the Chief Minister. Directly under this was also constituted, at the same time, the New Land Use Policy Implementing Board (NIB) chaired by a Member of the Mizoram Legislative Assembly with the rank and status of a State Cabinet Minister. The Government of Mizoram also called in the expertise of an experienced retired Indian Administrative Service officer who has extensive experience and knowledge in implementing projects as a former Secretary of the North East Council (popularly called the mini Planning Commission for the eight States of the North East Region of India) to help reshape and implement the policy.
Main aims and objectives
The NLUP, in its final shape and structure, is a versatile and encompassing mechanism for a stable State economy, environment protection and land reforms and reclamation. The broad and primary aims and objectives are as follows:
- Provide sustainable income to farming families who comprise nearly three-fourths of the total population of Mizoram by weaning them away from the destructive and unprofitable shifting cultivation practice
- Provide urban poor with livelihoods by encouraging small scale industries and petty trades
- Converging schemes funded by the Government of India (Centrally Sponsored Schemes) to NLUP for better utilization of funds and avoidance of duplication of works
- Land reclamation and forestation by introducing permanent farming systems and land reforms
- Environment protection and restoration through various means such as expansion of rain catchment areas for recharging rivers, springs and underground water, encouraging rearing of domestic animals and poultry for increased meat production to discourage hunting to protect the fauna etc
The ultimate objective of the NLUP is a happy, self sufficient and prosperous population living in a healthy natural environment where both humans and the animal kingdom live side by side without infringing on each others’ area thus providing a rich and buoyant bio-diversity and at the same time contributing towards the fight against global warming. One among the long-term objectives worth mentioning is Mizoram becoming eligible for carbon financing under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. Initiatives are being taken to link up with Government of India’s Green Programme to reach this objective.
The final project of NLUP as approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in 2010 broadly comprises of three components. These components are –
- Management/Capacity Building Component
- Development Component
- Infrastructure Component
Convergence of NLUP with Centrally Sponsored Schemes
As mentioned previously, one objective of NLUP is converging ongoing and normal Centrally Sponsored Schemes with NLUP so as to avoid duplication of works by two or more different Departments. This objective was met with schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under the Rural Development Department, Technology Mission under the Horticulture Department, National Bamboo Mission under the Environment & Forests Department, Watershed Development under Agriculture Department, National Mission on Medicinal Plants under the Health Services Department, Rubber and Coffee Board funding under Soil & Water Conservation Department etc being merged with NLUP through the funds provided for the above-mentioned schemes which were incorporated in the various components of the NLUP.
In short, any Central scheme that can be incorporated into NLUP has come under the purview of NLUP implementation thus focusing and integrating these schemes into the NLUP Project.
To ensure transparency and discourage corruption, a mechanism for disbursement of funds to beneficiaries has also been incorporated into the Project. As far as possible, direct credit of funds in beneficiaries’ accounts is to be used when disbursing funds. This has been put in practice for which the Rural Bank under the State Bank of India which has extensive coverage in the State has been designated as the financial institution through which beneficiaries receive the funds. A provision has also been made for concurrent and external auditors to be appointed who would regularly audit funds under the NIB. Stress has also been made for social audits to take place regularly at village levels to ensure corruption does not creep into the Project.
Another step that is being taken at the time of preparation of this summary is the use of modern technology in ensuring that no fund goes astray. It is the intention of NIB to make use of internet banking and electronic bank transfers that would interconnect NIB with all line Departments and their District offices. State Bank of India and NIB has reached an agreement on this front which would be the first use of modern information technology the Mizoram State Government and State Bank of India.
FUNDING OF NLUP
When first conceived, NLUP beneficiaries were to receive a sum of Rs 1,00,000, and if necessary more, as a start up for commencement of a sustainable form of livelihood from one-time sanction of funds from the Government of India. When the Government of India was first approached with a detailed project report in 2009, it was realized that with a few modifications and reshaping of the DPR, the NLUP could be a pilot project that, if implemented successfully in Mizoram, could be introduced as a centrally sponsored Government of India scheme in other states too.
As a result of this, a new and improved DPR was prepared by the NIB with the Mizoram State Planning Board playing a crucial part in the preparation. It took more than 10 months and not less than 16 meetings at the highest Government of India levels for the new DPR to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). Finally, the CCEA, chaired by the Prime Minister, in its meeting held in August 2010 approved a total outlay of Rs 2,873.13 crores for the NLUP Project for five years. The break-up of the fund allocation Component-wise is –
- Management, Administration & Capacity Building - Rs 72.20 crores
- Development Component - Rs 1,620.15 crores
- Infrastructure Component - Rs 1,118.78 crores
- Total - Rs 2,873.13 crores
Out of this total outlay, the Central Government would provide Rs 2526.98 crores while the remaining amount of Rs 346.15 crores would come from the beneficiaries as their contribution. The beneficiaries, however, were not expected to give their contribution in monetary form, but in the form of physical labour that would be put in by them to make their trades a success. The funds from the Central Government would constitute funds through Centrally Sponsored Schemes (about 35% of the total outlay) and Additional Central Assistance to States.
The NLUP funds would be incorporated into the annual budget of the Government of Mizoram and credited into the account of the State Exchequer. After approval from the State Planning Board and State Finance Department, the funds would finally be credited into the NIB account from which line departments would be given their share of the funds for disbursement to the beneficiaries or expenses for infrastructure development under the Infrastructure Component.
With the sanction of Rs 234.82 crores from Additional Central Assistance for the first year of the implementation of the NLUP Project 2010 - 2011, the NLUP Project was officially launched by the Chief Minister of Mizoram on January 14, 2011 and since then, the Government of Mizoram has decided to commemorate January 14 as “Kuthnathawktute Ni” or Farmers’ Day each year.
IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS OF THE NLUP
NLUP Boards and Committees
Though a joint Central and State Government project, the implementation of NLUP is directly under the control of the NLUP Implementing Board (NIB). The NIB is a Government society endowed with wide ranging financial autonomy and instituted solely for the purpose of the NLUP project which is in direct contact with the participating Government Departments. The NIB, however, has to get approval for any decision it makes from the NLUP Apex Board headed by the Chief Minister. As a result, there are two State-level bodies that control the project – apart from the State Government which controls the fund flow between the Government of India and the NIB – The New Land Use Policy Apex Board and The New Land Use Policy Implementing Board. Under these State boards, District Implementing Committees under the Deputy Commissioners/District Collectors are formed in the eight districts of Mizoram. Each village under these districts again has a NLUP Village Implementing Committee headed by the Village Council President. These NLUP Village Committees are primarily responsible for selecting beneficiaries and facilitating Government officials in distributing funds to the beneficiaries.
To implement the project, the first task was to select the eligible families from the two-lakh plus families of the State. The services of the Young Mizo Association and the Mizoram University were obtained for this purpose and more than 1,65,000 families were selected as eligible families from an eligibility criteria drawn up by the NIB. Those families with regular and sufficient income from the Government and public or private sectors were ineligible to become beneficiaries as well as those families running businesses or having steady income from other sources. Because of limitations to the funding, a final tally of 1,20,000 beneficiary families were selected from the total eligible families to be covered in three phases.
Participant Departments and Trades
Since NLUP is a project primarily to provide sustainable form of livelihood to beneficiaries, a trade needs to be selected for such livelihood and each beneficiary family is allotted one trade from their choice of a Participant Department. Most of these trades can be found in the agriculture and allied fields for the rural population as a result of which the Agriculture, Horticulture, Fishery, Soil & Water Conservation, A H & Veterinary, Sericulture and Environment & Forests departments were selected to become participating departments or line-departments as they are called by the NIB. For those beneficiaries located in urban areas, the Industries department was selected as another line-department, bringing the total of line-departments to eight. The following are the number of trades available for selection by beneficiary families in a department –
- Agriculture Department - 4 (four) trades
- Horticulture Department - 9 (nine) trades
- Sericulture Department - 1 (one) trade
- Fishery Department - 1 (one) trade
- Environment & Forests Department - 1 (one) trade
- Soil & Water Conservation Department - 3 (three) trades
- AH & Veterinary Department - 4 (four) trades
- Industry Department - 30 (thirty) trades
Two other Departments, Rural Development and Land Revenue & Settlement, were also designated as Facilitating Departments to help provide infrastructure and expertise in the demarcation of lands allotted to beneficiaries respectively.
This part of the NLUP comes under the Development Component which means direct interaction with the stakeholders who are the beneficiaries. It must, however, be noted that while beneficiary families have the freedom of choice of a trade, the NLUP Project is also concerned with the marketing side of the project so as to bring about sustainability to the selected livelihoods. As a result of this, the concept of ‘one village one crop’ or ‘one area one crop’, technically called cluster development, has been integrated into the selection of trades as far as practicable whereby any certain area within the State can be designated as such crop growing area so that marketing would be hugely facilitated for both buyer and seller.
One example of ‘one area one crop’ is in the broom cultivation trade falling under the purview of the Soil & Water Conservation Department. With broom grass growing in the wild abundantly in the northern areas of Mizoram, particularly under Kolasib District, beneficiary families from this area had been encouraged to choose broom stick cultivation as a result of which the majority of beneficiary families from this area are now engaged in this particular livelihood.
Calendar of works
The DPR of the New Land Use Policy provide for a clear cut implementation process as past experience had seen haphazard and ill-timed implementation contribute hugely towards less than satisfactory implementation of the various trades. As a result, the line-departments drew up calendar of works conforming to the particular trades under them. Every effort is made by the Government of Mizoram and the NIB that funds would become available as and when needed in order for the Departments concerned to implement the trades under them smoothly and without interruption.
Monitoring the implementation
Any scheme or project without a monitoring system in place is doomed to failure. This aspect of the implementation of the NLUP Project had been given a place of importance from the conception of the policy with a State level Monitoring & Social Audit Cell under the NIB constituted from the very beginning. Monitoring Committees were also constituted in each District with an elected representative of the people (Member of Legislative Assembly) within that District chairing the Committee. In the lowest tier, Village Monitoring Committees were constituted with care being taken that no person involved in the implementation or disbursement of fund in that village is appointed as chairman of this committee.
The Government of India had insisted on a certain stipulation when it agreed to fund the NLUP Project in 2010. This stipulation was that an outside agency or Third Party is to be engaged to monitor and evaluate the Project once it got off the ground. This stipulation was fulfilled by the NIB when the services of DJ Research & Consultancy were retained through a tender system in 2011. However, this firm pulled out of the agreement before long and the services of another firm, a subsidiary of the NABARD, a public sector undertaking of the Government of India, called NABCONS (NABARD Consultancy Services) was again retained in 2012.
NLUP Marketing Cell
Marketing plays as important a role as implementation and monitoring in the scheme of NLUP. As mentioned in a preceding paragraph, the very purpose of NLUP in creating sustainable livelihood to the beneficiaries would be defeated if a marketing infrastructure is not put in place and marketing plans neglected. To deal with this, a Marketing Cell was created at the outset with a person experienced in marketing strategies appointed as Chairman to head this cell.
In the scheme of things, the aim is to create a wholesale market where all crops produced in bulk to be sold outside the state can be collected and marketed. This would be a state level wholesale market with districts also having wholesale markets of their own. It was also proposed that a Market Intelligence Network be put in place so that farmers can access the system through the World Wide Web or in short, the internet. This proposal has concreted to a certain extent and internet providers contacted for the creation of a statewide internet NLUP pathway. This apart, godowns and cold storages would also be constructed or improvements made on existing cold storages within the state under the Infrastructure Component. These and other marketing factors have been thoroughly looked into by the NLUP Marketing Cell.
Private entrepreneurs have also been allowed to become involved in the marketing of produce obtained through NLUP trades and input supply for beneficiary families through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode to give a much needed economic boost to local entrepreneurs to market the produce locally and export them outside the state in either finished or raw state, depending on the produce.
NLUP IMPLEMENTATION REPORT AS OF MARCH 2012
When the NLUP Project was approved by the Government of India, it was envisaged that an average of 28,000 beneficiary families would be covered each year for the duration of the Project. But this visualization had not taken into account the eager desperation the people had for the State Government to implement the NLUP Project. As a result of this, the NLUP Apex and Implementing Boards decided to break up the implementation process into three phases and to disburse the development component funds in installments. This made possible the coverage of 45,139 beneficiary families during the first year and 1st Phase of implementation.
Following the decision that another 45,000 beneficiary families would be covered during the 2nd Phase and second year of NLUP implementation, attempts were made by the NIB through the line-departments to disburse the first installment of funds under the 2nd Phase before the end of the 2012 calendar year. However, year-end holidays became a problem as a result of which no line-department was able to disburse the funds for the 2nd Phase beneficiaries before the calendar year ended.
Progress and achievements
The Government of India has provided, under the Additional Central Assistance budget head under State Plan Fund, a total of Rs 468.82 crores (Rs 234.82 crores in 2010-11 and Rs 234.00 crores in 2011-12). These funds, along with CSS funds, have been distributed to the line-Departments in accordance with the number of beneficiaries under them. The following is the progress and achievements of the eight line-departments up to March 2012 –
- Agriculture Department – This Department has a total allocation target of 12,340 beneficiary families up to the financial year 2011-12 under the Development Component. This was successfully achieved with a total expenditure of Rs 5,911.64 lakhs. Rs 184.00 lakhs under the Infrastructure Component was also spent during the same period.
- Horticulture Department – This Department also achieved its target of reaching out to 11,520 beneficiary families up to the financial year of 2011-12 with a total expenditure of Rs 3,923.57 lakhs under the Development Component. During this same period, this Department has expended Rs 100.00 lakhs under the Infrastructure Component.
- Fisheries Department - The cumulative target for the two years 2010-11 and 2011-12 of 1447 beneficiary families was successfully reached with an expenditure of Rs 1,448.00 lakhs up to the year ending March 2011-12 under the Development Component. Rs 24.05 lakhs was also spent under Infrastructure Component during the same period.
- Sericulture Department – This Department also reached its two-year cumulative target of reaching out to 2,500 beneficiary families spending a total of Rs 680.21 lakhs under the Development Component. The Department also expended Rs 150 lakhs under the Infrastructure Component.
- Soil & Water Conservation Department – The 4,556 beneficiary target for the cumulative two years of 2010-11 and 2011-12 was successfully reached with an expenditure of Rs 3,681.95 lakhs under the Development Component while Rs 70 lakhs was spent under the Infrastructure Component during the same period.
- AH & Veterinary Department – This Department, with a total cumulative allocation target of 9,919 beneficiary families for the years 2010-11 and 2011-12, successfully reached it’s target with an expenditure of Rs 6,179.40 lakhs. Another Rs 442.00 lakhs was expended by this Department under the Infrastructure Component.
- Industry Department – The Industry Department has 10,723 beneficiary families under its wing for 2010-11 and 2011-12. In view of the number of beneficiaries, it has only been able to achieve an expenditure of Rs 2,100 lakhs up to March 2012. Earmarked to reach out to urban underprivileged families through micro-enterprises and small-scale industries, the Department faced implementation problems as beneficiary families did not diversify enough in their chosen trades which could lead to overcrowding of trades in the micro-enterprises, or petty trades as called by the Department, sector resulting in the failure of the schemes. This necessitated in re-allocation of trades chosen by the beneficiary families which resulted in the delay of the implementation process of trades under this Department.
- Environment & Forests Department – This Department has a cumulative beneficiary family target of 2,100 for the two years mentioned before. It has spent Rs 1,118.86 lakhs under the Development Component.
Achievements of NIB in regard to land reforms and land planning
As mentioned at the beginning of this summary, one of the main objectives of NLUP is land reforms and land planning. In regard to land reforms, the objective is being undertaken with the Land Settlement & Revenue Department of the Mizoram Government. In the area of land planning, the Mizoram Remote Sensing Application Centre (MIRSAC) has utilized its know-how in mapping out the land using satellites. The MIRSAC at present is currently engaged in mapping out the eight districts of Mizoram of which some have already been completed. The Mizoram University has also been commissioned to draw up a Rural Land Use Plan for NLUP which has been completed successfully. The Rural Land Use Plan is to ensure that the desired land use pattern as envisaged by the New Land Use Policy as given below is followed –
- Dense Forest - 60% of the total rural land area
- Catchment Areas Forest - 10% of the total rural land area
- Community Supply Reserve Forest - 10% of the total rural land area
- Habitations, roads, etc area - 5% of the total rural land area
- Land-based NLUP activities - 15% of the total rural land area
Allocation of additional beneficiary families
As the physical target of 1,20,000 beneficiary was far from enough to cover the already identified eligible beneficiaries of more than 1,65,000 families, the State Government again approached the Government of India for permission to add more beneficiaries to the Project. The outcome was that the Central Government agreed to the addition of 15,000 more beneficiary families bringing the total number of families to be aided through the NLUP Project to 1,35,000 families.
While the Government of Mizoram’s plan was to complete the implementation process with the 3rd Phase of implementation with the remaining 29,861 eligible families that could be encompassed by the NLUP Project, the welcome addition of 15,000 more families as beneficiaries has necessitated a 4th Phase of implementation where the additional families would be accommodated. This will be taken up in due course as additional funds have to be obtained from the Government of India.