It aims to map villages and offer property cards that could be used as collateral for formal loans
Living in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP), Durgavati lost her husband at a young age. She brought up her son with meagre earnings from a samosa and tea stall. All these years, she lived under the constant fear of losing possession of her semi-pucca house, as she lacked ownership documents. Her son worked in a nearby town but returned to the village after losing his job due to the covid-related slowdown. He wanted to expand the stall into a grocery and snacks store, but was unable to get a loan for this. An urban entrepreneur can access a loan by pledging property as collateral. But patchy property documents for inhabited areas in rural India make such loans infeasible. Our village maps are more than 50 years old. Informal property ownership results in disputes that clog India’s legal system and account for nearly 70% of pending cases. In the absence of an updated property and asset register, gram panchayats are unable to assess and collect taxes and invest in civic infrastructure, while fast-expanding cities are unable to properly assimilate their adjoining villages as town municipality rules do not apply to rural settlements.