Land Records Modernization in the Country

By A T Bureau

Land as an asset plays an important role both in rural and urban areas. In fact our people attach significant social and cultural values to it. Therefore, it is important that a landholder should have an authentic and tamper proof record of the land. In India since time immemorial, rulers have been mapping land for various purposes like collection of taxes, military purposes, demarcating political boundaries, settling disputes etc.
As the population increased, the land parcels became small & valuable, and different agencies like Panchayats, Consolidation Department, Survey Department, Revenue and Registration Department etc. came into existence. The manual system of land records maintenance was not able to cope up with this situation. There is growing demand for easy accessibility to up-to-date and accurate land records. The advent of computers in the country in the eighties provided a solution to this problem. As a follow up of the decision in the Conference of the State Revenue Ministers in 1985, the Government of India initiated two Centrally-sponsored schemes – Strengthening of Revenue Administration & Updating of Land Records (SRA& ULR) and Computerization of Land Records (CLR).
The scheme of SRA& ULR was launched in the year 1987-88 to help the States and UTs in updating and maintaining the land records, setting up and strengthening of the survey and settlement organizations and the survey training infrastructure, modernization of the survey & settlement operations, and strengthening of the revenue machinery. The Scheme was approved by the Cabinet in the year 1987-88 for the States of Bihar and Orissa. This was subsequently extended to cover rest of the country. The funding pattern was 50: 50 between the Centre and the States and 100 % for UTs. The progress achieved under the scheme is as follows:
· Construction of 1466 land record rooms completed in 16 States/UTs
· Construction of 4311 office-cum-residences of Patwaris/Talathis/RIs completed in 15 States/UTs
· Strengthening of 64 revenue/survey training institutions by construction, renovation, up gradation, providing modern equipments etc. done by 20 States
· Survey/resurvey projects taken up by the States/UTs of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Centrally sponsored scheme of Computerization of Land Records was started in 1988-89 with 100% central assistance as a pilot project in eight districts of the States such as Rangareddy in Andhra Pradesh, Sonitpur in Assam, Singhbhum in Bihar, Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Morena in Madhya Pradesh, Wardha in Maharashtra, Mayurbhanj in Orissa, and Dungarpur in Rajasthan. This was subsequently extended to cover the rest of the country. The main objectives of the scheme were:
· Computerization of ownership and plot-wise details for issue of timely and accurate copy of the Record of Rights (RoR) to the land owners.
· To store the records with the latest digital technology for long time.
· To provide fast and efficient retrieval of information both graphical and textual.
· To provide database for agricultural census.

The progress achieved under the scheme is as follows:
· States which have stopped manual issue of RoRs -16
· States/UTs which have accorded legal sanctity to the computerized copies of RORs – 21
· States/UTs which have placed RoR data on websites – 16
· States/UTs which have effected mutations using computers – 18
· States/UTs which have taken up digitization of cadastral maps – 26
· Computer Centers set up in 4434 Tehsils/taluks, 1045 Sub-Divisions, 392 Districts and Monitoring Cells in 17 State Hqrs.

These two schemes have been merged and replaced with a modified Centrally-sponsored scheme of the National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) in the year 2008-2009. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to usher in the system of conclusive titles in the country replacing the presumptive titles system as is prevalent today. For this purpose, the Department has prepared a Model Land Titling Bill which has been circulated to the States/UTs for comments/suggestions.
District has been taken as a unit of implementation under the NLRMP and all the activities are supposed to converge in the district. Funds have been released to 26 States to cover 204 districts under the program until now. Further, 21 NLRMP Cells/Centers have been established in 18 States/UTs to provide comprehensive training on various components of the NLRMP.
The citizen is expected to benefit from the NLRMP in one or more of the following ways;
i. Real-time land ownership records will be available to the citizen
ii. Since the records will be placed on the websites with proper security IDs, property owners will have free access to their records without any compromise in regard to confidentiality of the information
iii. Free accessibility to the records will reduce interface between the citizen and the Government functionaries
iv. Public-private partnership (PPP) mode of service delivery will further reduce citizen interface with Govt. machinery, while adding to the convenience
v. Abolition of stamp papers and payment of stamp duty and registration fees through banks, etc. will also reduce interface with the Registration machinery
vi. With the use of IT inter linkages; the time for obtaining RoRs, etc. will be drastically reduced
vii. The single-window service or the web-enabled “anytime-anywhere” access will save the citizen time and effort in obtaining RoRs, etc.
viii. Automatic and automated mutations will significantly reduce the scope of fraudulent property deals
ix. Conclusive titling will also significantly reduce litigation
x. These records will be tamper-proof
xi. This method will permit e-linkages to credit facilities
xii. Market value information will be available on the website to the citizen
xiii. Certificates based on land data (e.g., domicile, caste, income, etc.) will be available to the citizen through computers
xiv. Information on eligibility for Government programs will be available, based on the data
xv. Issuance of land passbooks with relevant information will be facilitated

Some of the States like Gujarat, Haryana and West Bengal etc. have done considerable amount of work in the field of modernization of land records. Haryana has integrated its land records system and the registration systems resulting in real time and up-to-date land records. West Bengal has integrated textual and the spatial data of the RoRs. Gujarat has digitized all of its cadastral maps and has superimposed more than hundred GIS layers relating to various attributes e.g. wastelands, agriculture land, water bodies, power lines, roads etc. on these digitized maps. This is helping in comprehensive planning for various purposes

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