In a first, PM Modi to hand over Aadhaar-like cards for properties mapped by drones
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will, on Sunday, hand over physical copies of property titles of their homes and the surrounding areas they own (as opposed to the cultivated land) to around 132,000 land owners across 763 villages in a significant land ownership reform that could improve the finances of rural property-owners and also end property disputes that have gone on for years, sometimes decades.
The title deeds can be leveraged by their holders as financial assets for loans and will also help keep a record of properties in the rural areas; no such records exist currently. The title deeds will be handed over under the “Svamitva” project launched by PM on April 24 and will map all urban or abadi (populated) areas of 6.40 lakh villages by 2024.
House owners from 763 villages including 221 from Haryana, two from Karnataka, 100 from Maharashtra, 44 from Madhya Pradesh, 346 from Uttar Pradesh and 50 from Uttarakhand will receive physical copies of title deeds as well as digital property cards, people familiar with the matter said.
The objective of this scheme is to provide an integrated asset verification solution for rural India, they added on condition of anonymity. The land of the residents in rural abadi areas will be demarcated using the latest survey methods using drones and with the help of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Revenue Departments and the Survey of India. This will not only enable village household owners to use their homes as a collateral for loans but also cut down on costly rural litigation.
The local representatives of the revenue department and representatives of other allied departments will prepare a record of the ownership of the people in the presence of the inhabitants. Along with this, a detailed arrangement has been set in place for on the spot settlement of disputes, the people explained.
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Since the very beginning, the villages of India have been the backbone of its economy, because “Malgujari” or land revenue was the main source of the state income, these people said. When the British took over the reins of governance here, they inherited a land record system established over centuries.
As their sole objective was to collect as much land revenue from tenants as possible, the British established the Zamindari system in many parts of the country and the so-called ryotwari system in the remaining parts. Even as the ownership of the cultivated land and their measurement maps were prepared , they did not make any effort to measure the populated area of the village; nor did they try to determine the ownership of residents in those populated areas . This was not done as there was no land revenue to be collected from the abadi area . Unfortunately even after independence , no effort was made to either demarcate the abadi land or create ownership rights there.
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Due to the absence of any kind of ownership records or demarcation of abadi land , whenever any dispute arose regarding possession , drainage, or boundaries, the parties have to go to a civil court for settlement of disputes, a lengthy process that sometimes transcends generations.
According to a person well versed in land titling issues who asked not to be named, of the total number of cases pending in the civil courts of our country, at least 40% are related to the disputes concerning the abadi land.
The concept of property ownership being a way to access credit and improve the financial position of the poor is well established. It is the central thesis of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar who argues that providing the poor with access to listless would unlock their economic potential and prevent their assets from being what he terms dead capital.