India needs Digitized Land Records and Online Property Registration – Here’s why

November 23, 2020 2:45 PM

A centralized land records system and reforms in land laws are the need of the hour - to ward off internal constraints, local agitations, and speculative increase in land prices.

With the digitization of land records, a clear picture of land data, starting from the first owner of the land to its present status, including image of property and landowner will be available.

In the post pandemic world, India is slated to be the only other major economy alongside China to grow and flourish and to get a step closer to that goal, India needs a standardised property rights system to solve its current land record-keeping conundrum.

A centralized land records system and reforms in land laws are thus the need of the hour – to ward off internal constraints, local agitations, and speculative increase in land prices. The GIS land bank system launched by the government recently is a potent step towards actualizing this clamour for change by addressing issues like transparency and credibility directly.

A slingshot to a better Real Estate future

India for long needed a single-window land records and allied system that could serve as a one-stop digital platform to obtain central and state clearances and approvals, needed to kickstart business operations.

The development of the National GIS-enabled land bank system by integrating Industrial Information System (IIS) with the State GIS systems has spearheaded this cause for an effective and transparent mechanism of land identification and procurement.

Currently a pilot project, the system has been launched for six states that will map more than 3,300 industrial parks across 31 states and UTs covering a whopping 4,75,000 hectares of land. The GIS land bank system will serve as an information window for investors providing access to an array of details on various industrial belts, eliminating the need to visit various offices and platforms for land information and obtain clearances.

The land bank system will also push the approach of “One District One Product”, in line with the AtmaNirbhar Bharat vision, boost employment opportunities and attract investments from abroad by showcasing the improving ease-of-doing-business.

Future adaptations into real estate and a Digital National Register of land records

It’s surprising that the real estate sector that contributes almost 5-6% to the country’s GDP still does not have access to an electronic public register of land records. This leads to litigations, scams, and property disputes over land ownership, keeping local and NRI investors away from property transactions.

The GIS-enabled land bank system will serve as a perfect mechanism for maintenance of land records in a centralized database that can be accessed from anywhere under the sun, improve transparency in land record maintenance system, make acquisition of land easier for development projects and minimise scope of land disputes. Also, giving banks and non-banking financial institutions access to this database will help institutional lenders verify the validation of title of the property and earmark it as mortgaged to a particular bank.

Deals and registration from anywhere

For a majority of Indian households’ wealth invested in real estate, accessing land records and other details of encumbrances including mortgage, liability or claim against a property, is often difficult. Investors too face the drudgery of visiting public land record departments and Registrar’s office to verify land records and register land agreements.

With the arrival of GIS-enabled one-stop digital land bank platform, land records would be just a click away and can be accessed from anywhere around the world, enabling seamless and credible property registrations online, doing away with the need of any authorised intermediary.

Extreme Transparency

Unclear land titles, and lack of transparency in real estate transactions due to opacity of land data and mismanagement have made the real estate sector sluggish for long.

With the digitization of land records, a clear picture of land data, starting from the first owner of the land to its present status, including image of property and landowner will be available. This will eradicate confusion between government land and private land, usher transparency, and speed up land acquisition; the use of reliable digital land records will add considerable impetus for India’s rapid economic growth through better functioning of land markets and boost investment too.

Hallmark of a Developed Real estate market and the Opportunity

The digitization of land records will mark an epoch in the history of real estate and amplify the potential of the country’s real estate. The property sector which had for long been plagued by land issues that snowballed into complex litigations and disputes, will breathe a sigh of relief at this renaissance.

GIS technology will help real estate professionals to evaluate sites, research parcels of land, strategize marketing plans, and optimize tenant management strategies. With the aid of information from multiple cloud databases, real estate developers can assess the value of a land parcel and speculate about its future developments.

What’s more, this fluidic, modern land records system provides access to powerful data, templates, and tools that leverage land records management and value analysis of a particular area. Using analytical capabilities of GIS, one can see year-on-year trends, do cost-per-square-foot comparisons, and do neighbourhood analysis on a single platform.

With 24/7 availability of data online, it will become easily for buyers and sellers to scrutinize property data online and check the authenticity of a land or property. As rapid further advances in technology add more firepower to the pilot GIS-enabled land records system, a full spectrum rollout in the near future will help organizations and decision makers to gain a deeper understanding of property economics, make faster decisions and take advantages of property developments in future – essentially, what we often call a ‘game changer’.

(By Vivek Agarwal, Co-Founder & CTO, Square Yards)

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