Ministry plans to use high-tech ways to maintain land records

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi, Aug 27 | Updated: Aug 28 2008, 06:47am hrs
In less than a decade from now, controversies surrounding the acquisition of land for public purpose or industrial use at places like Singur, would be a thing of the past. The new policy on land record modernisation envisages using cutting-edge technologies to ensure that every district collector has a clear idea of the land under his domain.

A move which would boost credit off take in the rural areas, besides ensuring better land use, the government has decided to use technologies such as geographic information system (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) for updating records and conclusive titles in the rural areas of the country.

The scheme envisaged by the department of land resources (DLR), under the ministry of rural development, would provide land titles to more than 950 million rural population, relying on high-resolution satellite imagery. The ministry plans to work with state governments to replace the present system of registration of land deeds and documents as provided for in the Registration Act.

At present, because of the old system of keeping land records, a district collector prior to land acquisition does not have a clear picture of the land use pattern, Rita Sinha, secretary, department of land resources under rural development ministry told FE.

The new scheme called the National Land Records Modernisation Programme (NLRMP) would replace the existing centrally sponsored schemes of Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration & Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR).

According to Sinha, the new scheme would be able to computerise land records, which would include digitisation of maps and integration of textual and spatial data. The ministry plans to work with state governments to computerise registration including entry of valuation details, setting up modern record rooms, training and capacity building; and inter-connectivity using IT among revenue offices and among various agencies involved in land records like revenue office and registration offices, etc.

We plan to complete the digital computerisation of land records within the span of eight years, Sinha told FE . According to official data, there are estimated to be 2.2 million square kilometres of rural areas in the country. To be completed by the end of the 12th Plan, the programme cost is Rs 5,656 crore, of which the Centres share would be Rs 3,098 crore while the states would contribute Rs 2,558 crore.

As of now, in rural India, presumptive titles are given which are not certified by the state. So they remain private documents and do not get the status of public records that have evidentiary value under the provisions of the Evidence Act. This renders the right of the owner to the land title, presumptive at best.

The Registration Act, 1908 provides for registration of deeds and documents but not registration of titles. Even though the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, mandates compulsory registration of transfer of immovable property, lack of state guarantee of title to land contributes to the unsatisfactory state of affairs in conveyancing in the country.

However, Sinha admitted that under the NLRMP, the land involving litigation would not be surveyed. The ministry of rural development through CLR & SRA & ULR have supported efforts of the states for updating and computerisation of land records. But in the absence of the system of conclusive titles with title guarantee which is essential for security of property rights, large number of lands remain locked under litigation.

According to minister for rural development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, after the survey, the access to the conclusive title data to the cooperative and other financial institutions would also facilitate credit operations.

Under the till now existing schemes of SRA & ULR, states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan among others have already completed their revenue records data entries, while states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh among others have stopped manual issue of their revenue records.