May 25, 2024

Bhu-aadhaar

General Studies Paper 2

Context: By March 2024, India aims to digitise 100 per cent of its land records and the land registration process and give a unique 14-digit alpha-numeric identity, also called Bhu-Aadhaar.

ULPIN (Unique Land Parcel Identification Number)/ Bhu-Aadhaar

  • About:
    • Department of Land Resources (DoLR) along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Department of Science and Technology and the National Remote Sensing Centre came up with the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number system.
  • Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP):
    • DILRMP, which integrates the computerisation of land records, strengthening of revenue administration, and updating of land records.
    • Once this has been done and the system is cleaned up, every plot/parcel of land (both urban and rural) can get the 14-digit alpha-numeric ULPIN (Unique Land Parcel Identification Number) which is also named as Bhu-Aadhaar.
  • Key aspects:
    • Data mapping:
      • The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) or Bhu-Aadhaar will have the longitude and latitude coordinates of the land parcel and is based on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps.
      • It will cover all land parcels rural as well as urban.
    • Language processing:
      • Currently, the Records of Rights in each state and Uion territory are maintained in local languages.
      • The Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme will also process transliterating the Records of Rights to any of the 22 languages recognised by the Constitution.
    • How?
      • Technology helps and hand-held devices can lock in latitude-longitude coordinates and marry land records with satellite imagery.
      • Computerisation and strengthening revenue administration is the easier part and there are efficiencies because of a standard template throughout the country for registration and record of rights, including addressing of the multilingual issue.
    • Implementation:
      • The Bhu-Aadhaar project has been introduced in 26 states and is currently being implemented in the remaining states, except for Meghalaya.
        • Meghalaya’s tradition of communal land ownership has resulted in the project not being implemented in the state.

Significance

  • Unified Nation wide ID:
    • So far, different states were using different methods for assigning unique IDs to land parcels in computerisation of land records.
    • This made extraction of important information on farmers and their land difficult and cumbersome.
    • In many instances, the land parcel numbers were repeated in each village, making it difficult to establish farmer-land relationships.
    • A unique ID will help in sharing of land record data across departments, financial institutions and all stakeholders.
  • Prevention of Land Fraud: 
    • The uniquely identified number will prevent land fraud, especially in rural India, where land records are outdated and often disputed.
  • Mitigating disputes pendency:
    • Once the digitisation process of land records and registration is complete, it is expected to mitigate the huge pendency of court cases involving land disputes.
  • Record for collateral:
    • It will also help farmers leverage their land and use it as a collateral to borrow money from banks.

Challenges

  • Issues with updating of land records:
    • Digitisation of Cadastral maps will typically not have latitude/longitude data. There could be elevation and projection problems.
    • The record we have of the title must reflect ownership, with new registrations and mutation being automatic. With or without title insurance, this guarantees title and just as Aadhaar captures biometry, ULPIN captures everything about that plot/parcel. Which in all is a difficult process.
  • Difficulty in accomplishing target:
    • Given the history and the complex nature of land laws, it is claimed that this process certainly cannot be accomplished by March 2024 (or even March 2026), both target dates.
  • Feasibility and sustainability:
    • The feasibility and sustainability of the project have also raised concerns due to the cost of implementation, particularly considering the Department of Land Resources’ restricted financial resources.

Way ahead

  • Need of overall modernisation:
    • As a cause of litigation, land/property issues are indeed important. But the quantitative case for modernisation of land records alone, in absence of other changes(such as multiplicity of laws on land and rural/urban silos), should not be overstated.
      • For instance, in a similar vein, Economic Survey 2014-15 tracked stalling of projects and found that land acquisition is not as much of an issue as is commonly made out.
    • Setting an example:
      • There are parts where land titles and records are in a mess, cleaning up requiring a gargantuan effort. But there are parts where titles and records are clean.
      • Those can readily have their ULPIN, those efficiency gains acting like a demonstration effect for others to come on board.
    • Definite potential:
      • Despite the challenges and controversies surrounding the Bhu Aadhaar project, it has the potential to bring significant benefits to India’s land management system.
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