New Delhi: The Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan has passed a landmark legislation providing statutory backing to land records, effectively guaranteeing land and property ownership.

This will create an efficient and transparent modern land market, provide certainty of tenure and end litigation that often mires development projects. Once an individual is accorded legitimate rights to land, which at present can be disputed, their ability to trade these rights improves dramatically.

The legislation, The Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification Of Titles) Bill, 2016, was passed by the state assembly through a voice vote on Monday.

As a major step towards good governance and Ease of Doing Business , we have brought in “The Rajasthan Urban Land ( Certification of Titles) Bill , 2016 - Vasundhara Raje

As a major step towards good governance and Ease of Doing Business, we have brought in “The Rajasthan Urban Land ( Certification of Titles) Bill, 2016." The certified title provided under the Act would provide clear title over a chain of documents and enable hassle free transactions of urban lands .

“This will lead to transparency and will create a sense of confidence among land owners. Disputes and frauds in land deals will be brought to a stop through its implementation," said Rajiv Gupta, a Rajasthan-based political analyst.

The assembly on Tuesday passed another law related to land acquisition, the Rajasthan Land Pooling Schemes Bill.

There have been some reports of the second bill, almost none of the first, and more radical, reform.

Previously, the Raje government had pioneered amendments to labour laws, which were subsequently adopted by other states and eventually even the Union government.

It is likely that other states will pass similar titling laws, much in the same way they rushed to reform their own labour laws after Rajasthan did so.

A titling law is both consumer- and industry-friendly, and also empowers poor, often marginal, farmers.

Till the Rajasthan law was passed, India did not guarantee titles.

The only proof of ownership was (and, in other states, still is) proof of a transaction between a buyer and a seller or property tax receipts.

All these can be legally challenged, and usually are, holding up both industrial and development projects, from hardware parks to low-cost housing.

“The bill will boost land acquisition in the state and also benefit authorities as no capital expenditure will be required from their end," said a senior Rajasthan government official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The second legislation, Rajasthan Land Pooling Schemes Bill provides for easy aggregation of small land holdings.

It argues that land holdings in Rajasthan are small and in irregular parcels and that this impedes the development of adequate infrastructure.

“Thus if schemes are designed for large parcels of land, more efficient and effective planning can be achieved," it adds

The bill provides for land for infrastructural development and enables the government to consolidate small land holdings. The land holders, in return, will get an equivalent share of development land.

There are other advantages as well—most notably, better, and smart urban planning.

“This will help in developing infrastructure as per the master plan. The land required for development will be shared among all the land owners in the area. People in the area will contribute equivalent land and they will get developed land in the same proportion," said Pradeep Kapoor, senior town planner, ministry of urban development and housing, Rajasthan.

Kapoor, who is also in charge of work related to smart cities, said: “The government will try as far as possible to allocate land close to where it has been taken from."

The bill says, “construction of new building, new structure or new installation that may be used for residential, commercial, public and semi-public, industrial, warehousing purposes shall not be deemed to be an operational construction within the meaning of this clause".

Rajasthan’s titling reform comes at a time when the National Democratic Alliance government has given a push for urbanization with various schemes including development of smart cities, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation and housing for all.

In 2014, the Rajasthan government took the lead in pushing labour reforms that sought to give companies greater flexibility in hiring and firing of employees and make it tougher for registration of labour unions, seeking to attract greater investment.

The opposition Congress said the latest legislation will only benefit the rich.

“The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government is trying to project it as a pro-development bill but in reality it will only benefit the corporate and the rich. What will happen is they will take these lands and hand them over to developers or private builders," said Ramesh Meena, deputy leader of the opposition in the state assembly. “Eventually, it will lead to an increase in the prices of land and corruption."

Anuja and Shreeja Sen contributed to this story.

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