Can Blockchain Technology Facilitate Better Land Governance in India?

Land registries across the world, are either almost entirely badly kept or are distorted/mismanaged; leading to lack of security rights becoming an endemic source of insecurity for the public. Property rights are a contentious issue in India, as land records in many parts of the country date back to colonial times. The root cause of land conflicts in the country is the archaic legislation, namely the Registration Act 1908, which allows only ‘presumptive ownership’. As a result of this two-thirds of all civil cases across the country today, deal with mainly property disputes. As digital adoption continues to gain traction in India, blockchain technology, is witnessing sustained support from state governments for improved/enhanced efficiency of government processes and ensuring transparency. Challenges and deficiencies in the domain of real-estate, such as illegal mutation of land records, the enormous amount of time that is taken in updating changes in title, forgery, incomplete registration of land records etc. can be effectively tackled by the use of blockchain technology. Being decentralized and storing data in a nearly incorruptible form, blockchain provides a dashboard view of data to all vested parties, at costs that are much lower and many times more accurate. The conversion of land records from physical records to an online ledger system which is stored in a secured environment will grant private user access yet public visibility. The elimination of the need for a third-party bureaucratic land department, will ensure that landowners get complete control over the titles. In fact, the sales and purchase of land will eventually boil down to the exchange of information at the price that is negotiated, all of this, recorded via a tamper-free online system, in perpetuity. Thus, instituting a system which comprises of un-erasable data records that have permanent audit trails, can turn out to be a comprehensive solution, pertaining to most of the issues that are related to secure property right and in turn, better land governance. Making all transactions verifiable and accountable, blockchain systems, apart from securing property rights for lawful owners, will also enhance the level of trust in the land governance system, thus making a marked improvement in the ease of doing business and bring about a reduction, in property-related litigation. E-governance and digitization of government records, has been a slow-paced process in India, which has more often than not, added to the red-tape. Having said this however, the Indian government is now realizing the potential of going digital for enhanced efficiency as well as making a quantum jump in transparency, resilience and security by adopting blockchain systems. Thus, switching to the digitization of land records based on distributed-ledger technology would be a great start. With state governments looking to unlock the potential of blockchain systems to usher in better land governance, the adoption of new technology will not only pave way for accountability, transparencyand secure property rights for its citizens,but also help in realizing the dream of a truly ‘Digital India’.

Author: Pawan Sachdeva Practice Head – Land Governance, TerraCIS Technologies Limited

Pawan Sachdeva is responsible for driving the business growth and strategic direction of the land governance business unit at ITL. Since his joining in 2011, he has been instrumental in the land governance business growth from 4 references, to currently around 12 references. A Post Graduate in Business Administration from Symbiosis, and almost 15 years of experience in IT/ GIS industry.

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