Why Official Land Records Are Key To Real Estate Growth
In the busy corridors of the newsrooms of television channels and newspapers, journalists often utter the words "official numbers" — irrespective of the news context — with a sense of mockery and disdain. Little credit is given to the fact that even if the "official" numbers are erroneous, it does give the "investigative" scribes a solid ground to start on. Imagine a situation where the official record of things is unavailable. Land could be your best starting point if you begin to consider the topic.
For the official record of land is dismal in India and ownership rights are subject to interpretation in most cases, two third of the total cases with Indian civil courts pertain to land disputes. Despite the many laws, things seem not to be getting any better.
To address this, the government is working on a proposal to double the spending on its land record digitisation programme, apart from extending the deadline. The programme, which was kicked off in 2008 and was expected to be completed by 2016, has now an extended deadline to 2021. Moreover, the expenditure of this programme has also been increased from the earlier Rs 5,600 crore to Rs 11,000 crore.
So far, only central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have achieved the task of digitising their land records while Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are on their way to do so. As the sense of urgency or priority is missing, states have been working on the project at a snail's pace. Many other states also lack the means to carry out the work. The process involves land mapping with aerial surveys and satellite imagery and using drones for the purpose, apart from physical marking on land. All this requires huge trained manpower and technological support.
For a long time, lawmakers of the country have been sweating to introduce laws that would bring transparency in matters of land transactions and rid the India's judicial system off its heavy work load. However, that task can be easily attained by setting land records straight. We certainly need official here.