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MP, West Bengal top performers in land records digitalisation

Joe C Mathew     March 4, 2021

Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have been ranked as top performers in digitalisation of land records by Delhi-based think tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). The second edition of NCAER Land Record and Services Index (N-LRSI) 2021, released today revealed that almost all States and Union Territories have shown an improvement in their efforts to digitize land records compared to the previous year.

Madhya Pradesh ranked first for the second time in a row. West Bengal has moved up four ranks, from rank six to two. Odisha and Maharashtra, which ranked second and third in N-LRSI 2020, have fallen by one rank each to take up rank three and four in this year's index. The project is supported by Omidyar Network India, through its Property Rights Research Consortium initiative which aims to enable evidence-based solutions for securing land, housing and property rights in India.

According to an NCAER statement, the NLRSI 2021 is based on data collected over 2020-21 on two aspects of the supply of land records - the extent of digitisation of land records and the quality of these land records.

"Accurate and reliable data with regards to the ownership and details of land and property can help every Indian to ascertain their land assets and enable easier transfer and access to credit. Given that land and property is the largest asset class in the country, the impact of accessible property records can have a substantive impact on improving lives. We hope that this index will continue to nudge state governments to focus on digitisation of records, as well as provide policymakers a tool that will provide them evidence-based insight to create more effective and targeted approach towards property rights," Shilpa Kumar, Partner, Omidyar Network India said.

The Index, which measures the performance of 32 states and UTs across four broad parameters - digitisation of textual and spatial records, computerisation of the registration process, and the quality of land records, finds that 29 states and UTs have shown positive change or retained their scores in 2020-21. As a result, the mean N-LRSI score across the 32 states and UTs has shown an increase of 16.6 per cent in 2020-21, from 38.7 in 2019-20 to 45.1 in 2020-21 (out of the maximum score of 100 points). While in 2019-20, only one state scored more than 70 points, there are now 5, NCAER stated.

Among the states which have reported an improvement in their N-LRSI scores, seven of them have recorded an improvement of over 10 points, five have noted an increase between 5 to 10 points, and 16 states have shown an improvement of less than 5 points. Bihar, Karnataka, Tripura, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala have reported the most improvement.

Factoring for the 'extent of digitisation' alone, Bihar shows maximum improvement, followed by West Bengal, Tripura, and Karnataka. While the scores for Puducherry and Chhattisgarh have shown a decline owing to the decline in rate of digitisation as seen on the Department of Land Resources' portal, the scores for Assam have shown a decline as the few digitised copies of RORs that were available in 2019-20 are not available online now.

In terms of the 'quality of land resources', Karnataka is the leading state in terms of improvement over 2019-20, followed by Bihar, Tripura and Goa. However, seven states and one union territory have reported a decline in this parameter, including Uttarakhand, Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Another key performance indicator is Accessibility, which evaluates states and UTs based on the ease of access, comprehensiveness of the information available, the design and user interface, and the efficiency of the help and assistance functionalities on their respective land records related web platforms. Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the top performing states in this index.

"The first two round construction of the N-LRSI primarily used supply-side data during 2019-20 and 2020-21, including proxies for measuring access for citizens, for assessing the extent of digitisation and gauging the quality of land-records services offered. For the next round, we envisage a demand-side survey of citizens to gauge the level of public awareness and satisfaction in using digital land records and associated services," Devendra B Gupta, co-leader, N-LRSI project said.

N-LRSI was first launched in February 2020 to gauge the performance of all states and UTs on the extent of its digitisation process for land records and services, and the overall improvement in the quality of the record as a result of the digitisation process.

Established in 1956, NCAER is India's oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute. Omidyar Network India invests in bold entrepreneurs who help create a meaningful life for every Indian, especially the hundreds of millions of Indians in low-income and lower-middle-income populations, ranging from the poorest among us to the existing middle class.


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