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Land Use

Land Use

Land has proved itself to be the valuable asset over many years. Because of its limited supply and ever-increasing demand, the land prices are skyrocketing. These land prices are determined on the basis of the usage of the land.

Land use refers to the utilisation of land and its resources for different purposes. Land utilisation depends on several factors, such as its geographical location, density of population, socio-economic factors, among others.

For sustainable development and prosperity of any country, the proper and wise use of the land is required. The land use depends on the kind of land, its depth, fertility, water retention capacity, available mineral contents, and means of transportation, etc. The use of land for agriculture depends on soil type, irrigation facilities, and climate. 

Land use planning is an important function of the government, to ensure planned development in cities. Development authorities have been established to achieve this purpose.

The different types of land use are explained below:

  • Residential- This type of land use is primarily meant for residential purposes, including single or multi-family dwellings. However, this also includes different categories of density and dwellings that are allowed to be developed such as low-density houses, medium-density houses and high-density houses like multi-storey apartments. There is also a mixed-use construction category covering residential, industrial and recreational uses. Residential zones may also include establishments such as hospitals, hotels, etc.
  • Commercial- Commercial land use is intended for structures like warehouses, shopping malls, shops, restaurants and office spaces. Commercial zoning laws control the kind of operations a business can perform and the category of business allowed in a particular region. There are some regulations that must be adhered to, including the provision for parking facilities, permissible building height, setback, etc.
  • Industrial- Industrial land use is classified into different categories, depending on the type of industry. Businesses belonging to light, medium and heavy industries are allowed to set up operations in the industrial zones, including factories, warehouses, and shipping facilities. However, there may be some environmental regulations that must be followed.
  • Agricultural- Agricultural zoning pertains to the preservation of land parcels against non-agricultural use. There are laws pertaining to the number of non-farm dwellings, property size and activities allowed in these zones.
  • Recreational- In this category, the land is utilised for the development of open spaces, parks, playgrounds, golf courses, sports arenas and swimming pools.
  • Public use- Social infrastructure is developed under this type of land use, including educational institutions and healthcare facilities.
  • Infrastructure development- The land is utilised for the development of infrastructure, including roads, streets, metro stations, railways and airports.

In India, the land is primarily used for agricultural purposes, with nearly 60% of the country’s land area devoted to farming. Other uses of land in India include forestry and grazing, which make up about 15% of the country’s total land area. Less than 5% of India’s land is urbanized. India has a total geographical area of about 328.73 million hectares, but statistics pertaining to land utilization are available for about 305.90 million hectares

In India, the study of land utilisation is mainly based on the classification of land into the following categories:

  • Forests
  • Land put to agricultural use
  • Barren and wasteland
  • Land put to non-agricultural uses
  • Area under permanent pastures and grazing lands
  • Area under miscellaneous tree crops and groves (not covered in net sown area)
  • Culturable wasteland
  • Current fallow
  • Fallow other than current fallow
  • Net area sown

Land use regulations in India

Urban Area

In India, zoning laws are framed by the local municipal governments or local authorities. These laws govern the use of land and the development of structures. Different land use patterns are implemented in different zones.

Zoning is a scientific method adopted by the local authorities to oversee development and the use of real estate in a specific region. It involves segregation of land into several zones to ensure proper land use for different purposes. For example, zoning regulations are framed that prevent the construction of commercial properties in a residential zone. In India, land use zoning is based on the Euclidean approach that refers to land use classifications, such as residential or commercial, by the geographic area.

With the scarcity of land resources becoming a concern in cities, zoning is carried out in an integrated manner. Thus, a mixed residential zone permits all developments allowed in primary residential, including banks, shops, etc. Zoning regulations may also specify the maximum height of buildings in an area, availability of green spaces, building density and type of businesses that can operate in a specific region.

Rural Area

Statistics of land use are compiled from the village land records maintained by the patwari. The information is available according to each survey number and recorded under nine categories: (a) Forests, (b) Area under Non-Agricultural use, (c) Barren and Uncultured Land, (d) Permanent Pastures and other Grazing Land, (e) Miscellaneous Tree Crops, (f) Culturable Waste Land, (g) Fallow Land other than Current Fallows, (h) Current Fallows, and (i) Net Area Sown.

In 2013, the Rural Development Ministry came up with a draft National Land Utilisation Policy that aimed at adopting policies for ensuring optimal land utilisation based on suitable land-use planning and management.

Land acquisition is a process by which the government (state or union) can acquire private land for various purposes. In return, the government pays a suitable compensation to the land owner and would be responsible for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected land owners. The Land Acquisition Act, 2013, regulates and governs the entire process of land acquisition.

When the government acquires land for public purposes and controls the land bank directly, the land owners’ consent is not a necessity. However, when the land is acquired for setting up private companies, the consent of at least 80% of the affected families is mandatory. If the project is undertaken through a public-private partnership, then, 70% of the affected families have to give their consent for the land acquisition process.

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