Rajasthan to guarantee title for property buyers

Rajasthan to guarantee title for property buyers

New Delhi: In a move of far reaching implications, the Rajasthan assembly on 8 October, little less than week before elections were notified in the state, endorsed a pioneering land title bill under which for the first time in the country, the state government will guarantee title for property buyers.

Guaranteeing land title is an essential precondition to getting grants under the Rs50,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for urban renewal projects. Mint had earlier reported that at least three states were in the process of implementing the reforms.

"We have finally accomplished it. This (signing the bill) means the government has finally proclaimed its intent. This means it is only a matter of time," said Swati Ramanathan, co founder of advocacy group Janaagraha, who spearheaded the project, called CLEAR (complete land evaluation and administration of records) for the government of Rajasthan.

Under the system envisaged, the government will provide what is called provisional title that will convert to indisputable title if it is not challenged over a two-year period.

The move will remove uncertainty surrounding more than half the land deals in the country because most property owners do not have clear title to their holding. The government currently does not guarantee ownership of land. It merely endorses a property transaction between two parties for which it has collected tax.

"We are in the process of signing an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the NSDL." The National Securities Depositary Ltd, the agency that led the move to dematerialize shares, or convert them into electronic form, will help in mapping the records and converting them into electronic records. Ramanathan however said that it could be as many as 6 months before the first guaranteed titles are handed out.

Until recent; all land in Rajasthan technically belonged to the government, with citizens only holding what is called a leasehold. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje had in her budget speech of 2007 announced the government’s intention to undertake fundamental land reforms.

For a start the act would cover all government-distributed land, while providing incentives to private land owners to convert to freeholds.