Land digitisation and India

Despite continued efforts to computerise land records, the overall pace of transformation in records management system has been sluggish

Shagun Khurana | March 26, 2019


#India   #Land digitisation   #Ease of Doing Business   #World Bank   #property registration  


The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report 2019 ranks India at 166 out of 190 countries in ‘Registering Property’, lower from last year’s ranking of 154. This, in spite of a 53-place jump in India’s overall ranking in the last two years alone!

 
In Mumbai, it takes a little less than three months to get a property registered in the name of the new owner post a purchase of land, while in Delhi it takes about two months. The World Bank calculates the Quality of Land Administration index, which is based on five dimensions – reliability of infrastructure, transparency of information, geographic coverage, land dispute resolution and equal access to property rights. On a scale of 0 to 30, Mumbai scored 9 in 2018 and Delhi 7.5. On the other hand, China’s index score is at 18, and the best performing country, Singapore’s at 29. Needless to say, India has a long way to go in revamping its land administration system. 
 
It has long been established that clearly defined and enforceable property rights are indispensable for economic development. They are likely to reduce land related litigation, smoothen the process of land acquisition and improve the doing business environment. The Land Titling Bill was introduced in parliament in 2011, but it did not receive much traction from the states. Instead, improving the quality of land records and creating a system of clean and updated records, was consensually acknowledged as a pragmatic prerequisite. Launched in 2014, the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP) is an overarching version of the previous efforts of the government in updating land records. It aims to develop a modern, comprehensive and transparent land records management system, minimise scope of land disputes, and facilitate gradually moving towards a conclusive land-titling system with government-guaranteed titles, from the existing presumptive-titling system. One of the most important positive externalities of an efficient and transparent land records database is the ease of doling out targeted development programmes for the governments.
 
In spite of continued efforts since the inception of computerisation of land records in the 1990s, and an impressive financial progress in terms of utilisation of funds, the overall pace of transformation in the land records management system at the ground level, has been sluggish. As per the DILRMP portal, even though computerised copies of Record of Rights are available in 86 percent of the villages through kiosks located at the tehsil offices, handwritten records continue to be used in 11 states and UTs. Studies conducted in Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and other states to assess their performance in improving land records, suggest that the computerised records obtained by villagers usually have discrepancies as the survey/re-survey work using modern techniques is completed in only 8.5 percent of the villages in the country. As a result, computerisation of records has largely meant converting paper records into digital format without proper verification. A key challenge that remains is one of ensuring real-time accuracy, that is, up-to-date land records, beyond mere formalities of computerisation and digitisation. The integration of textual records with spatial records is a significant problem in every state in India, as
the records remain to be updated and verified with the help of fresh cadastral surveys before digitisation.
 
The India Consensus Project undertaken by Copenhagen Consensus and Tata Trusts aims to identify the smartest solutions to some of India’s most pressing development challenges. The case in point is the study conducted by Pahle India Foundation as part of the project, for improving ease of doing business in the state of Rajasthan. The study recommends that the first step towards improving land records management system involves having clean and updated land records, which entails conducting fresh round of land surveys and digitisation of spatial records (cadastral maps) – a two-part intervention. This is supported by a cost-benefit analysis for implementing this intervention in the state.
 
The cost of survey/re-survey was determined from the assessment study of DILRMP in Rajasthan conducted by Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), released in 2016 and revised according to the minutes of the meeting of the core technical advisory group for DILRMP. For the purpose of computing the cost of digiti-sation of maps, average of the costs incurred by six states that have successfully digitised nearly 97 percent of the maps was taken. The analysis also assumes an annual marginal increase in the existing operational costs of 0.22 percent of the fixed costs of implementing the proposed intervention. In coherence with the existing literature on the positive relationship between secured property rights and economic growth, the economic benefits from secured property rights were taken as an addition of 0.024 percentage point annually in the growth rate of the economy. The present values of costs and benefits are calculated for a period of 50 years to obtain the benefit-to-cost ratio. The results show that every Re 1 spent on surveying and digitising the cadastral maps will lead to an additional benefit of Rs 12 to Rajasthan’s economy.
 
Availability of land is of utmost importance for doing business in any economy. With respect to that, the most important functionality of the state land departments is to provide a smooth and simple process for land acquisition. According to the World Bank’s study, India has not undertaken any major reforms towards easier registration of property in the last decade.
 
At a time when private investment has slowed down and perceptions are crucial for investment decisions, states need to play their part and streamline the process of land acquisition and transfer. They must prioritise these overdue reforms, and make the land records management system clean and transparent. 

Khurana is a senior research associate, Pahle India Foundationww
(This article appears in the March 31, 2019 edition)

Comments

 

Other News

India will set example of post-Covid-19 economic revival: Modi

India is determined to “set an example” for the rest of the word in the post-pandemic economic revival, prime minister Narendra Modi has said, underling the need to become self-reliant. “There is also a widespread debate on how the economies of various countries, including

3,543 ‘Shramik Special’ trains transport 48 lakh people in 26 days

Close to 48 lakh migrant labourers have been able to reach home from the cities they were working in, as the Indian Railways have run a total of 3,543 “Sharmik Special” trains from May 1. Following the home ministry order regarding the movement by special trains of migrant worker

How Jeevan Raths have helped 52,000 migrants in Maharashtra

Before the novel coronavirus hit it, Mumbai about 10-12 lakh labourers from elsewhere had made it their home. The figure for the state of Maharashtra was another 18-20 lakh. As the pandemic spread and the Maximum City emerged as the worst-hit place in India, all economic activities came to an end, and with

China is practicing attack as the best form of defence

For the rest of the world, it is not easy to understand China when it comes to politics or economics. Under pressure from the international community, it has accepted to open the country for a “comprehensive” probe into the origin of the deadly coronavirus. But it is not clear whether the Asian

Corona warriors to “flush the virus” in Mumbai

Even as humanitarian support is pouring in to help distressed migrants amid Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, civil society organizations and NGOs are working for sanitation of community toilets which have become breeding source of virus infection. Every community toilet has 20 seats. Each

How lockdown was used to shore up health infrastructure

India, completing about two months of lockdown to protect against the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, has made good use of the time to improve health infrastructure, the government has said. Countering media reports “about some decisions of the government regarding the lockdown implem



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter