LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More

Land reforms in India

Land reforms in India have majorly aimed at re-distribution of ownership of lands and optimum utilization of land. They have also dealt with the rights, duties, obligations of the land holder.

Lord Cornwallis is considered as the one who regulated the Zamindari system, but some other say that Zamindari system is a practice in India from the ancient times; others say it was introduced after Mughal invasion into India.

Whatever may be the history, one thing is clear in this system that the land was held by a person who was responsible for collecting revenue from cultivators and for payment of a share of produce, usually in percentage, to the ruler.

The land holders were known as Zamindars or Mirasudars. Zamin means Land; Dar means Holder or a person. The cultivator was called Ryot and the land is called Estate.

The Zamindari system, after modification, was introduced by Lord Cornwallis in West Bengal in 1793 and later it spread to other parts of country.

By this system, the Zamindars acquired the land from the government free of cost and rented out to Ryots. The ryots were allowed to cultivate on the estate, land, and had to pay the rent to the Zamindar irrespective of quantity of produce. However, this system could not work well because the ryots were over burdened. This led to the introduction of permanent settlement.

Permanent settlement

The permanent settlement regulation, XXX of 1802 was passed. By this arrangement, the proprietary right of the land became vested in Zamindars and was inheritable. The cess, which was to be paid by Zamindars to the government, was assessed and fixed independent of productivity of land.

Estates Land reforms

When time passed, it was felt that the interests of the Ryots had to be governed. As a result, the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908 was introduced. By this act, the Ryot had to pay a fair rent and thus the right to have, to hold and possess the land permanently by the Ryot was assured.

The Ryot should not be evicted at the will of the land lord. Besides, the right of occupation was heritable and transferable.

And both Ryot and Land Lord shall exchange documents to this effect. The document which Ryot gets from land lord was/ is called Patta and that from Ryot is called Muchalika.

However, this system of permanent settlement has been repealed by Tamil nadu Estates Abolition Act as it was not properly implemented.

In 1948, Ryotwari Settlement was introduced and in 1963, its second phase is implemented. By this, the entire estates held by the Zamindars, Inamdars including Porampokes, Kulams (Tanks), Eri (Lakes), Samudhayam (Lands for communal use), etc were transferred to government.

Under this system, the responsibility of paying land revenue or tax to the government is of the cultivator (Ryot) and no Zamindar is available.

The government shall grant patta to Ryot. This patta is called Ryotwari patta and the land is called as Ryoti land (Land owned by Cultivator). The water bodies, land reserved for common use are retained by the government itself.

Classification of Land

The person acts as Solicitor of buyer or seller of property shall have thorough knowledge about the classification of land. I am trying to focus some light on this matter.

The land is classified into various types according to the use, owner, etc.

According to use

  • Agricultural land
  • Habitation land /Residential land
  • Waste land
  • Communal land
  • Water body
  • Industrial land

Let us see each classification of lands one by one.

Agricultural lands

Agricultural land means cultivable or cultivated lands. This is also known as Vivasaya nilam, vayal, kazhani, etc. These are further classified into the following.

  • Wet land or Nanja land
  • Dry land or Punja land

Nanja Lands

The land, cultivable, where paddy can be produced, is called Nanja or Nanjai nilam. In English, this term is known as wet land.

Punja Lands

The land, cultivable, where pulses and cereals (that is to say other than paddy) are produced, is called Punja or Punjai nilam. In English, this term is known as Dry Land.


Naththam means land wherein habitations are situated or simply we can say the popular term 'residential site' is situated here.

On this site, residents build their houses and appurtenants which include puzhakadai (back yards), workers’ shed, etc.

The Naththam was further classified into the following.

  • Gram Naththam
  • Cheri Naththam
  • Naththam Porampoke

Gram Naththam means the village occupied by caste Hindus. Cheri Naththam means the sub-village occupied by lower castes as per the earlier caste system. Please note that at present there is no caste based classification in vogue. Naththam Porampoke means the lands or sites owned by government but occupied by residents. In Southern Tamil Nadu, the term Naththam means porampoke.

Tharisu nilam

The uncultivated lands, uncultivable lands are classified as tharisu nilam, which means non-yielding or barren land, simply waste land.


Poram or puram means outside, out skirt or apart; and poke or pokku means went. Thus Porampoke means kept outside or settling apart. The lands which may be cultivable but not cultivated or unfit for cultivation due to its location are kept aside and reserved for some purpose and communal lands are called purampokku or Porampoke and owned by Government.

The Porampoke lands are further classified into various kinds according to the purpose for which they are reserved. They are:

  • Eri Porampoke (Lake/ tank)
  • Aathu Porampoke (River)
  • Vaikkaal porampoke (Channels and canals)
  • Maeichal porampoke (Graze land/ Pasture)
  • Salai porampoke (Road)
  • Samudhaya porampoke (Communal land)
  • Temple site
  • Cremation/ burial ground
  • Threshing floor
  • Naththam porampoke (Habitation sites)

Administration of Land

The land administration is a two tier system, first is revenue administration and next is local administration. The village is the basic unit of both the systems of administration.

Revenue Administration

The whole nation is divided into states which are divided into Revenue Districts headed by District Collector. The districts are further divided into Revenue Divisions headed by Revenue Divisional Officer or Deputy Collector.

Each division is sub-divided into Taluks or Tahsils headed by Tahsildars, which is still divided into Zones managed by Zonal Deputy Tahsildars (DT).

Each zone is divided into Firkhas liaisoned by Revenue Inspectors (RI), the firkha is divided into Gram or villages administered by Village Administrative officers (VAO). Each village is identified by a number and the land in the village is divided as per the holdings by individual subjects of the village and allotted with numbers called survey numbers.

Local Administration

Small villages (Hamlets) are combined and administrated by Panchayat office. Adjacent panchayats are grouped or unified and administered by Panchayat Union.

Area larger than the village is called town and is administered by Town Panchayat. The cosmopolitan towns are called Nagaram or Municipal Town and administered by Municipal council or simply Municipality. The metropolitan towns are called City and administered by Municipal corporations or simply Corporations.

"Loved reading this piece by Sri Vijayan.A?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Tags :

Category Property Law, Other Articles by - Sri Vijayan.A