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| Last Updated:: 04/04/2013

Land Use Pattern

 Land Use Pattern

The land ownership and management systems of the Nagas are unique and
different from the rest of the country, where local customary laws govern the land. Such
laws are tribe-specific where each tribe or even village has its own unique customary laws
and traditions. These customary laws are usually not codified but have the constitutional
sanction. The enforcement of these traditional laws and regulations rests on traditional
village institutions such as village councils, tribal chiefs or headmen.
In Nagaland, about 92% of the land is unclassified and are under the community
ownership, which may fall under any one of the recognized four categories- Private land,
Clan land, Morung land, and Common land. The state government owns just about 7% of
the total land area.
Depending upon the tribe, the land either belongs to the headmen, the community
or individual. Except for some tribes where the chief owns the land, the village councils
and headmen are generally mere custodians of the land. In most community land, all
members have a right to use it freely but with prior consent of the custodians. There are,
however, restrictions on transfer or even use of traditional land by outsiders. Outsiders are
people who do not belong to the community or clan, or in some cases, are not subject of
the same chief. Jhum lands are usually owned by the community but regulated by the
respective village councils. The respective village councils decide the areas to be cleared
for jhumming each year. Individual’s plots are allotted by draw of lots in most cases. A
very democratic system is adopted for the allotment of annual jhum plots. Long-term
holding of land for permanent cultivation, gardens and homesteads are usually undertaken
after prior consultation with village authorities, clan elders or with respective owners.
Increased privatization and individual ownership, especially of land under
permanent cultivation such as wet rice cultivation, terraced lands, orchards, gardens, tree
farming, bamboo grooves, etc., are recent noticeable trends in the state. These trends are
more so in valley areas and lowlands than in the foothills. However, the practices and
trends of land ownership differ from tribe to tribe, and these largely depend on existing
traditions, availability of land and interpersonal relationship with the traditional institutions
or the headmen.