New Delhi: Accessing land records and registering land transactions in under an hour could become a reality if a proposal for a massive computerization of land registration departments in rural areas actually takes off.
On Thursday, the Union cabinet is scheduled to take up the national land record modernization programme (NLRMP), which envisages surveying all plots in villages and aims to digitize maps of properties. This programme will also record land transactions, and will be a prelude to guaranteeing titles, said a government official, requesting anonymity.
Under this, the Centre will fund 75% of the cost of computerization and 50% the cost of surveying land parcels. The states will provide the rest, he said. The Centre is expected to spend at least Rs2,000 crore on the project over five years, the official added.
“The project is expected to help clear uncertainties surrounding property deals in the country,” the official said, adding that NLRMP will complement an earlier computerization effort by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the government’s Web services organization.
According to estimates, six out of 10 land transactions are later disputed.
“There have already been several schemes for computerization for which a lot of money has been spent,” notes Swati Ramanathan, a land reforms expert and co-founder of advocacy group Janaagraha. “If they will link all registrar’s offices, it is a good plan. But the devil is in the details. You can put the technology in place, but you need to put the documents in place and ensure that transactions are recorded also.”
“If you need to mortgage land, soon the bank concerned will be able to assess your claim on a plot by checking out a website that will be maintained by state governments. If you need to check out a plot in Manipur, for instance, you can log on to a national pool of such websites pertaining to land records from all over the country and assess the land,” claimed another government official.
The programme also includes survey of land records based on global positioning system and geographical information system technology to create maps that show the boundaries of the property and ownership details, said an NIC official. “Now, we will link these maps to the already existing data on record of rights.”
The programme, however, does not allow for registration of property across states (for instance, a resident of Madhya Pradesh registering land in Maharashtra), since that will involve changes to the Registration Act, the first official said.
A 2004 World Bank study, Doing Business, found that the cost of registering land transactions as a percentage of property value in India is among the highest in the world.