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Distribution of e-property cards under 'SWAMITVA scheme' (24 April 2021)

Distribution of e-property cards under 'SWAMITVA scheme' (24 April 2021)

Context:

  • Prime Minister, Narendra Modi launched the distribution of e-property cards under the SWAMITVA scheme on National Panchayati Raj Day through video conferencing.

Background:

  • Central government's SVAMITVA scheme aims to provide 'record of rights' to village property owners.

  • Prime Minister, Narendra Modi also spoke about a few initiatives carried out for village panchayats such as the Centre had granted Rs 2 lakh 25 thousand crores for the fortification of gram panchayats and promotion of e-Gram Swaraj to increase transparency in rural developmental projects.

Summary of the Debate

Key takeaways:See the source image

  • As many as 4.09 lakh property owners were given their e-property cards on National Panchayati Raj Day.

  • It also marked the rolling out of the SVAMITVA scheme for implementation across the country.

  • Under the scheme, the entire village properties are surveyed by drone and property card are distributed to the owners.

  • The cards that are being issued which will be used to determine the collection of the property tax that will be a major financial benefit.

About SVAMITVA Scheme:

  • SVAMITVA which is Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas was launched by Prime Minister on National Panchayati Raj Day (24th April 2020).

  • This is a scheme that was launched well after the Indian economy had gone into COVID situation.

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme to promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India.

  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of the scheme.

  • In the States, the Revenue Department or the Land Records Department will be the Nodal Department and shall carry out the scheme with support of State Panchayati Raj Department.

  • It paves the way for using the property as a financial asset by villagers for availing loans and other financial benefits.

  • The Scheme will cover around 6.62 Lakh villages of the entire country during 2021-2025.

  • The pilot phase of the Scheme was implemented during 2020–2021 in the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and select villages of Punjab and Rajasthan.

Salient features of the Scheme:

  • In Maharashtra, they have a system of property tax being appropriated by Gram Panchayats. It is their source of revenue, their plot sizes in the rural areas which are known as abadi areas in the north.

  • These are mapped and to map them more accurately, they had engaged the survey of India using survey grade drones that they would be able to delineate the property parcels much more clearly.

  • So, we started from there and to begin with, we started with 6 states because the continuous operating referencing system which is also a component of this scheme was already there or was in the process of being installed which would help in the quick implementation of the scheme.

  • The first thing that this scheme would immediately do is that it would give people a record of right which would presumably lead to less conflict among people, people would be able to use their asset for the purpose of getting loans from banks.

  • It would provide people with an accurate map for planning purposes to reimagine the whole landscape.

  • The CORS (Continuous Operating Referencing System) provides 5 centimeter accuracy, one is to 500 scale maps. So, there is a whole world of opportunity there, the people can use and with the new map policy now that data is free for Indian entities. We could have our own google maps and a whole lot of services that could now be available. The state of Madhya Pradesh has already moved ahead and they've planned a set of services just based on the information that would be available from the CORS stations.

  • The drone industry is also looking for this scheme to find avenues for their resources, for their knowledge and a whole new employment line because the drones are going to be manufactured here increasingly, so this would provide with an opportunity because over the course of implementation, there are something like 2000 drones would be needed to survey this entire area.

Need of the Scheme:

  • Several villagers in the rural areas don’t have papers proving ownership of their land.

  • Each state had their own land records milieu but most abadi areas have never been surveyed in the past. So, while it was possible for people to monetize their agricultural land holdings, the place on which they lived, they had no way of being able to use that to source credit or anything.

  • In a state like Maharashtra and Karnataka and several others where they have a system of appropriation of property tax by the local rural local bodies. It doesn't happen all over the country but in Maharashtra and certain states, it is hugely successful.

  • This scheme has got a governance model that needs to be emulated in other sectors of the economy. This governance model has a structure where the Centre takes the responsibility of being the nodal ministry and then in consultation with the revenue department of the state governments which in turn takes the help of the state panchayat departments to undertake this business.

The biggest challenges:

  • If private sector companies which are offering these drones, that data is collected and will this data also be shared with private sector agencies.

  • India is still as a country far away from proper full proof data protection law. So, without such safeguards, this collection of data and its use or misuse or abuse if the situation allows that is something that will remain a challenge for this ambitious scheme.

What are the plans ahead to take other states on board for effective implementation of the scheme throughout the country?

  • There are variety of laws and the Centre is dealing from state to state, it is trying to project the scheme as an opportunity for use in the way that people would like.

  • States have got their different acts, we have also the 6 scheduled areas where property ownership is normally held. So, how we are engaging with the various states is we are trying to see the benefit in their way.

  • It's not just for unsurveyed areas, it is also for surveyed areas where the state is willing to just replace the earlier record that is the situation in Gujarat, for instance or Odisha or the state of Tamil Nadu.

  • The northeastern states and the 6 scheduled areas, would still have habitations and the ownership, maybe the patterns are different and if there are people living then these people need to have amenities, they need to have plans, they need to have contingency plans for disasters.

  • So, if the proportion of these habitations to the entire area is of the same order of magnitude as it is abadi's versus the entire area that is in the other state then in such situations the MoU can be suitably modified to adapt to their needs and people can go ahead and sign that.

Way Forward:

  • This scheme is actually an effective example of a Centre and state collaboration for a project which will be used by the people and not just the people but different agencies of the government and indeed various players in the economy can actually take full advantage of the data.

  • This kind of land record compilation will suddenly see a spin-off benefit for the many municipalities which have gone ahead and many Gram Panchayats in terms of property tax collections.

  • There are many other natural calamities that can be monitored through this data processing which will rest with both the States and the Centre.

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