Government’s Directives on Deemed Non-Agricultural Use of Lands in Maharashtra

On March 13, 2024, the Revenue and Forest Department of the Government of Maharashtra issued a circular bearing no. NAP-2023/Pra. Kra.64/J-1A (“Government Circular”) directing the revenue officers to implement the amendments made to the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 (“Code”) specifically in relation to the change of use or non-agricultural use of agricultural land within the State of Maharashtra.[1] 

Previous Amendments to the Code in Brief

  1. Insertion of Section 42B and Section 42C in the Code vide Maharashtra Land Revenue Code (Amendment) Act, 2017 [Act No. 30 of 2017] (“2017 Amendment”):
  • Section 42B of the Code inter alia provides that, upon publication of the final development plan as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (“MRTP Act”) and subject to payment of any conversion tax, Nazrana/ premium, Government dues etc., the use of any land comprised within an area specified in the development plan, shall be deemed to have been converted to the use as shown in such development plan. Hence, no separate permission under Section 42 or Section 44 of the Code shall be required for the use of such land for the permissible use under such development plan.
  • Section 42C of the Code inter alia provides that in case a land which is situated in an area, for which a notice of the draft/ approved regional plan and/ or development plan has been published in the Official Gazette, then, subject to payment of any conversion tax, Nazrana/ premium, etc., the use of such land shall be deemed to have been converted to corresponding non-agricultural use, once development permission on such land under Section 18 of the MRTP Act is granted.
  1. Insertion of Section 42D: The Maharashtra Land Revenue Code (Fifth Amendment) Act, 2017 [Act No. 12 of 2018] (“Amendment Act of 2018”), provides that in case any land which is situated in an area within 200 metres from the limits of a village, or of a town/ city where the land adjacent to such town or city is allocated as developable zone in the draft or final regional plan, the said land shall be deemed to have been converted to non-agricultural use for residential purpose or the purpose admissible as per draft/ final regional plan, subject to the provisions of the Development Control Regulations, as may be applicable to such area.

Gist of the Resolutions referred in the Government Circular

  1. Government Circular dated April 13, 2022: With a view to undertake ‘Ease of doing Business’, the Maharashtra Government had issued directives for the revenue officers and authorities to effectively implement the provisions of the 2017 Amendment and Amendment Act of 2018.
  1. Government Resolution dated May 23, 2023: This government resolution provided that subject to the provisions of the MRTP Act, in case the permission for construction has been granted or plans have been sanctioned by the competent authority, no separate permission is mandatory to be obtained by the owner/ developer for the non-agricultural use of such land and such land parcels are deemed to be converted to non-agricultural lands. It is further provided that conversion tax shall be collected as required in the Building Plan Management System and the ‘Sanad’ (i.e., Grant for the non-agricultural use) shall be granted along with the development permission.

Challenges in the Implementation of Previous Amendments

Despite the various amendments/ government circulars/ government resolutions, as mentioned hereinabove, the revenue officers/ competent authorities continued to insist on filing for separate permission for non-agricultural use along with the application for granting construction permission. Hence, the Government of Maharashtra was highly criticized for the lack of implementation of existing laws.

Directives of the Government Circular Issued in accordance with the Provisions of the MRTP Act to Overcome the Challenges

In view of the 2017 Amendment, Amendment Act of 2018, the Government Circular of 2022 and the Government Resolution of 2023, the Government Circular has categorically directed as under:

  1. No requirement of separate non-agricultural use permission: No separate non-agricultural permission is required if the non-agricultural use is permitted under the development plan/ regional plan.
  2. Deemed non-agricultural use permission: If the permission for construction has been granted or development plans have been sanctioned by the competent authority in relation to agricultural land, such land shall be deemed to be classified as non-agricultural.
  3. Grant for non-agricultural use: Revenue Authorities should issue Sanad (Grant) for non-agricultural use of land, basis the construction permission or approved layout for any land. Further, the planning authorities shall not insist on submission of non-agricultural use permission prior to granting of any construction permission.

The above provisions are applicable to Occupancy Class-I land parcels. However, with respect to Occupancy Class-II lands, No Objection Certificate should be obtained from the competent revenue officers prior to obtaining development permission/ construction permission from the planning authority.

The Takeaway

The issuance of the Government Circular insists on the implementation of the previous amendments made to the Code for using agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, which is vital for the state of Maharashtra considering the tracts of agricultural land available for development. The directives provided under the Government Circular can help reduce the woes of developers who are caught up in meeting compliances that have in fact been simplified and thus accelerate the process of acquiring land parcels for development. It is hoped that these directives will also encourage landowners to make their lands available for development to the developers as they stand to benefit from the swifter process of procuring approvals.

 


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*Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and no part of it shall be construed as legal advice.

The issuance of the Government Circular insists on the implementation of the previous amendments made to the Code for using agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, which is vital for the state of Maharashtra considering the tracts of agricultural land available for development. The directives provided under the Government Circular can help reduce the woes of developers who are caught up in meeting compliances that have in fact been simplified and thus accelerate the process of acquiring land parcels for development. It is hoped that these directives will also encourage landowners to make their lands available for development to the developers as they stand to benefit from the swifter process of procuring approvals.

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