New Delhi: India will soon start issuing unique numbers for landholdings as part of an exercise expected to bring transparency and end dubious land ownership.

The rural development ministry has started work on assigning a standardised unique number for each surveyed plot, a senior government official said.

The unique number will have details of the state, district or zilla, tehsil or taluka, block level and street information, wherever applicable, and information about the plot including size and ownership details.

“This unique land parcel number could subsequently be linked to the Aadhaar and revenue court system,” the official told ET on condition of anonymity. According to the official, the government is of the view that assigning unique numbers to plots of land would facilitate real estate transactions, help resolve property taxation issues and improve disaster planning and response efforts, besides making it easier to acquire land for public projects.

“It’s like an Aadhaar for an individual. All issues related to sale/purchase, collection of taxes and ownership of the plot can be traced using one single number,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Infrastructures. “The government is now taking its land records digitisation drive one step forward. Since this will also be GIS-tagged, it will make it very simple to access details of any landholding.”
It is estimated that disputes over land, validity of titles and records and rightful ownership account for two-thirds of the cases pending in the country’s courts and it takes over 20 years on average to resolve them, impacting sectors and projects. Besides, land is often used as collateral for loans taken by farmers and unclear land deals inhibit their capacity to do so. Industry executives said this is a much needed measure.

“Unique identity numbers or UIDs have been long overdue and, when implemented, will help streamline and organise India’s outdated land record system. As on date, land ownership done via registered sale deed is presumptive in nature and is also subject to challenge,” said Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants.

According to Puri, the new system can help trace the details of all previous owners of a plot of land. It will bring in greater transparency in the system. “It will also help attract more foreign investors for whom lack of proper land titles is a major deterrent for investing in India,” he said.

The government has already implemented the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme for digitisation of the property registration process and land records. However, the results have been mixed and progress has been tardy in some states.

The steering committee on fintech-related issues recently suggested a close review and reform of the ongoing digital land record modernisation programme.

“The country needs a dedicated National Digital Land Records Mission based on a common National Land Records Standard which should deliver common standards-based land record data within a three-year deadline,” it said.

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