Q) What role can the digitalization of land records play in improving the health of rural economy. Discuss its role as an harbinger of land reforms. (250 Words)
Source: The IE Editorial: A HEALTH WARNING ON LAND
GS 3: Land reforms in India.
Introduction: The ownership of land is highly skewed in India. With more than 93% of the farmers being, landless, marginal or small. The government of India has since independence launched various programs to usher land reforms to bring in more equity. Land record digitalization is one of the recent initiative in this regard.
Role that Land Record digitalization can play in rural economy:
1. Accurate Subsidies: Various state and central government run schemes such as Rythu Bandhu, and Kalia which involve accurate mapping of amount of land. Digitalization can plug inclusion and exclusion errors in such schemes.
2. Easy Formal Credit: Digitalized land record can be used to get loans from formal banks, freeing farmers from Informal Sahukars.
3. Contract Enforcement: The ownership records can be used for contract farming, leasing of land etc.
4. Lesser litigation: With digitalized records the cases of illegal or forceful occupation of land can be dealt with swiftly, improving law and order
5. Easier insurance and claims: The Geo-tagging data can be superimposed on the weather data by IMD, making it easier to compute the areas and number of fields which have suffered losses due to hail storms etc.
Role of digitalization as harbinger of land reforms:
1. Checking violation of Zamindari Acts: Since Independence various states have passed abolition of Zamindari acts. However, identification and implementation of the same has not been accurate.
2. Keeping a tap on Benami Properties: The Zamindars and owners of unaccounted wealth use land as a Benami property. Geotagging of land and digitalization of its ownership would make it easier to identify such land.
3. Distribution of surplus land: With accurate measurement of surplus land, it can then be distributed, or be used to monetize that land for economic benefit of the area.
4. Would make encroachment difficult: As the area under ownership would be known transparently to all.
Challenges in carrying out digitalization:
1. Challenge of irregular Updation: Many land records are updated only when the land is sold & the transaction is legally registered.
2. Inheritance challenge: The inherited land might be registered in the name of the grandparent.
3. Multiple government departments: There are various government records with various departments that must be cross verified. Such as Registration department maintains the Sale Deeds, Maps are kept with the Survey Department, and Revenue department keeps Property tax receipts.
4. Community based land ownership: In many N-E states & forest areas ownership is not singular but community based. This can be a challenge.
5. Bureaucratic Loopholes: Many states claim to have completed digitalization. But in many states the process have not started.
6. Variation across the states: land record regulations and policies vary widely across Indian states/union territories.
Conclusion: India launched Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DI-LRMP) scheme in 2008 for digitalization, unification and geotagging of land records held with all departments in India. However its implementation across the state has been lax and non-uniform. In this regard theNCAER Land Records and Services Index (N-LRSI) have been a good example of competitive federalism. It ranks states in terms of land reforms. Based on this many states such as Bihar have improved their rank.