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Every plot of land to get unique number with ownership details linked to Aadhaar

BusinessToday.In     September 18, 2019

With the digitisation of land records under the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) close to completion in most states, the government is now planning to introduce a unique identification number for all landholdings in the country. Think of it as an Aadhaar number for land parcels that will allow the government to track everything from ownership to tax collection.

The rural development ministry has already started work on assigning a standardised unique number for each surveyed plot, a senior government official told The Economic Times. This unique identifier (UID) will not only boast details of the state, district or zilla, tehsil/taluka and the relevant block, but also information about the plot, including size and ownership details.

The idea is to crack down on dubious land ownership and increase transparency - assigning unique numbers to plots of land would facilitate real estate transactions, help resolve property taxation issues and improve disaster planning and response efforts. Moreover, the process of land acquisition for public projects would become easier. Going forward, the unique land parcel number may be linked to the Aadhaar and revenue court system.

"Unique identity numbers have been long overdue and, when implemented, will help streamline and organise India's outdated land record system," Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants, told the daily. He added that land ownership done via registered sale deed currently is presumptive in nature and is also subject to challenge.

According to think tank Centre for Policy Research, 66 per cent of all civil cases in India are related to land/property disputes, and about a quarter of all cases decided by the Supreme Court involve land disputes, of which 30 per cent concern disputes relating to land acquisition. Disputes over land, rightful ownership and validity of titles also clog up the Indian courts since it takes 20 years, on average, to resolve them. This has a negative effect on sectors, projects and, by extension, economic growth. With UIDs for landholdings in place, such disputes are expected to reduce.

Puri believes that the new system will also help attract more foreign investors for whom lack of proper land titles is a major deterrent for investing in India. Since the UID will reportedly be GIS-tagged, accessing details of any landholding, including past ownership, will become much simpler. The new system may also facilitate easier access to credit, especially for farmers. Land is often used as collateral by farmers and unclear land deals inhibit their capacity to bag a loan.

Meanwhile, a steering committee looking into the development of fintech space in India has pitched for a dedicated National Digital Land Records Mission based on a common National Land Records Standards, within a three-year deadline. The panel headed by Atanu Chakraborty, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), submitted its final report to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month.

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