Bill to bar use of agricultural land for other purposes

Published On: January 16, 2019 09:07 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 16: The government has initiated legislation barring the use of agricultural land for residential, commercial or industrial purposes after classification of land into nine different categories. 

A Land Use Policy Bill, registered at the parliament secretariat by Minister for Land Reform, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal on Monday states that any land listed under one category cannot be converted into another use category. 

Following endorsement of the bill by parliament, the government will implement the new policy in certain areas or right across the country, and classify existing land into nine categories, in coordination with local units. The government has proposed the land use categories of Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Mines and Minerals, Forests, Rivers and Lakes, Public Use, and Cultural Archeological or other areas as specified by the government.

The government will establish a federal land use council to finalize the criteria for land classification for the local units. Section 7 of the bill will made it mandatory for local units and landowners to update their land ownership certificates to mention the category of the land. 

“Any land classified for a particular use cannot be changed to another use,” reads Section 8 of the bill. However, the bill has paved the way for landowners to apply at the local units concerned for reviewing their land use category if they need to use the land for a different purpose. The local units should forward such applications to the provincial land use council for decision. Likewise, landowners can challenge a local unit’s classification of their land in court within 35 days if they think their land should have been listed under a different category. 

The local units may review land revenue based on the new categories. The bill has also barred the expansion of settlements and other infrastructure in agricultural areas but reconstruction of existing houses will be allowed, according to the bill registered at the House of Representatives. 

In a bid to discourage agricultural land being left fallow, the bill has proposed up to Rs 300,000 fine for landowners leaving two-thirds area of their land listed under agricultural use fallow for three consecutive years. Likewise, any landowner using the land for a different purpose may face the same fine in addition to the land being barred from use for a different purpose.

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