Photos: ashish sharma                                                                           people politics policy per...
people politics policy performance
 Governance Path-Breaker




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 Governance Path-Breaker




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Urban Property Records Project of Government of Karnataka

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Urban Property Records Project of Government of Karnataka

  1. 1. Photos: ashish sharma people politics policy performance Governance Path-Breaker If only they let Ashish Sharma the first phase of the project. “The sub-registrar is empowered to au- thenticate just the transaction, not L and is the only ownership of the property being thing in the world transacted,” he says. This means, the his plan that amounts to registered sale deeds of properties anything for ’tis the do not establish ownership rights. only thing in this world Similarly, the records maintained that lasts, and don’t you by the other urban local bodies do be forgetting it! ’Tis the only thing not amount to authentic records of succeed! worth working for, worth fighting ownership. for – worth dying for.” Rudresha KV says the British did Gerald O’Hara’s exhortation to conduct surveys of landholdings his daughter Scarlett in Margaret for tax collection but, given the re- Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning quirement at the time, these focused novel Gone With The Wind, set in largely on the rural areas. These sur- 18th century rural America, finds veys did not cover constructed struc- an echo in all peoples in all epochs. tures either. But thanks to these sur- Your property can actually The sentiment has inspired Indi- an Administrative Service officer veys, records of rights do exist in the rural areas. become your property! Rajeev Chawla as well with quite as much passion if not the same aspi- The British did initiate similar surveys in select urban centres as Yes, believe it or not, we ration. The career bureaucrat who has spent the past dozen years dig- well; they are part of present-day Maharashtra. And since Karnataka simply don’t have authentic ging and cleaning up land records in Karnataka looks at land with the includes a few districts of the erst- while Bombay Presidency, records ownership records in resolve of a reformer. Seven out of ten disputes are rooted in land, so of rights exist in some shape in 48 of India. The sale deed is not land is the ultimate challenge for an administrator in India, he reasons. proof of ownership. Rajeev Having successfully digitised and made available land records online Chawla plans to legalise across rural Karnataka, he launched an online nine-month-long land- ownership by creating mark project to authenticate prop- erty ownership in urban areas, digital land records in beginning with five towns. By August, every inch of land Karnataka. If it works, across Karnataka’s five most ur- banised centres after capital city land disputes can almost Bangalore will have been measured and mapped and ownership records be eliminated. Of course, created afresh. Work is on in My- sore, Mangalore, Shimoga, Bellary somebody out there doesn’t and Hubli-Dharwad, where nearly 7.5 lakh properties are being sur- The Rs 40 crore want him to succeed... veyed in the first-of-its-kind Ur- ban Property Ownership Records pilot project being (UPOR) project in India. implemented in Chawla’s initiative breaks fresh ground because, believe it or not, five centres is set we simply don’t have proper prop- to create records erty ownership records anywhere in the country. All that we traditionally afresh and not have are records for purposes of tax collection or registered sale deeds of just scan and properties, explains Rudresha KV, a upload existing Rajeev Chawla (right) transformed a dilapidated structure into a majestic heritage building (left) deputy director at the department of survey settlement and land records, information. and his department into a centre of innovation. who is among those overseeing 8 GovernanceNow | April 1-15, 2010 www.GovernanceNow.com 9
  2. 2. people politics policy performance Governance Path-Breaker INTERVIEW R A J E E V C H AW L A its 276 urban centres. But, of course, these need to be verified and updat- “If UID for individuals ed as well. We cannot simply wish Even for Chawla who won much acclaim—including the prime min- away the land mafia and its long reach, not is important, so is ister’s award for excellence in pub- lic administration for 2005-06 for his earlier project, Bhoomi, for digitis- just here in Karnataka ing rural land records—the ongoing but anywhere in India. UID for land” project spells a giant, if logical, leap. The Rs 40 crore pilot project, being I fought hard to make implemented by five private play- ers under public-private partner- a pre-mutation, or pre- ship is set to create fresh records, registration, sketch not just scan and upload existing information. mandatory in this state. A In Mysore, the country’s largest surveying and mapping firm, Sec- s the sun sets and darkness of poor land records. There can be no bet- The idea is simply that on Pvt Ltd, has deployed its staff to creeps up around Vidhana ter empowerment of the common citizen before anybody sells a map 47,106.25 acres across munici- pal limits and beyond in the adjoin- Soudha in Bangalore, the ba- bus have long departed from in this country than proper documenta- tion of land ownership. Being an engineer, property, the government ing urbanised areas. Secon’s project the nearby MS Building which I could have joined an IT firm and risen should measure it. This manager, Srihari, stationed at My- houses government offices. But just ahead, through the ranks. Instead, I thought why sore’s R S Naidu Nagar, explains that at the KR Circle, a majestic heritage build- not stay within the government and spe- fair play does not suit state-of-the-art technology is being ing is aglow with signs of recent restoration cialise. So I have been working on land re- land sharks, of course. deployed to survey and map each and lighting that you normally associate forms for the past 12 years. It is an unusual property. While the company is rely- with monuments that illuminate the past. area for an administrator to specialise in, I ing mainly on Differential Global Po- Inside, though, an alumnus of Indian Insti- know, because it is not glamorous as every- sitioning System and Electronic To- tute of Technology-Kanpur is busy shaping body wants to work only in IT or aviation Why didn’t you start creating fresh by government surveyors alone. This ne- Is it time we updated our land ownership tal Station to fix coordinates of the the future of land records management in or some such sector. records in the rural areas, though, instead cessitates the need for licenced private sur- laws across the country? properties being surveyed, in a few the country. of the urban areas? veyors. But this does not mean that the gov- Of course, laws have to be amended wherev- cases it is also being forced to con- Rajeev Chawla, commissioner, depart- Your pioneering project to create an For two reasons. One, the scale is much larg- ernment can be blackmailed by either the er required, as in the case of Bhoomi, or the duct physical tape measurements. ment of survey settlement and land records, online database of rural land records was er in the rural areas. And two, since some re- private surveyors or even its own staff. I pre-mutation sketch that I referred to earlier, This is being done in cases where it is engaged in a brainstorming session with completed by the middle of the decade. cords already exist there, we didn’t want to know somebody must be instigating the sur- or even e-procurement that I launched sepa- is not possible to fix coordinates with his colleagues and he won’t be done before Why did it take so long to launch a create conflicting records. veyors, somebody must be benefiting from rately. But as an administrator I have learnt the help of the satellite or any other 9.30 pm, you are told, so better come again similar project for the urban areas? this strike, somebody must be making mon- that wherever you can effect a change with- electronic survey instrument. the following morning. That’s nothing out The timing had to do with my postings. I Yet, you have provoked opposition from ey on the side, but that cannot deter us from out legislative amendment, do so. There is of- Srihari says his staff is on the job 16 of the ordinary for the country’s first sec- launched and implemented Bhoomi when various quarters in urban areas as well. moving ahead. ten enough leeway within the prevalent laws hours a day, collecting and collating retary, eGovernance, who requested to be I became the first secretary, eGovernance, That is inevitable. We cannot simply wish to allow effective implementation. The qua- data. Their work is not restricted to shifted to this junior post in late 2007, you in the country. Then I moved to other as- away the land mafia and its long reach, not Google your name and reports that si-judicial approach often works best. That just surveying the city, including all later find out. This building was in ruins signments but continued to work for land just here in Karnataka but anywhere in In- you favoured particular private players is also why I am opposed to titling, or legal- built-up properties, slums, road net- when he arrived here, the department un- reforms. And then I requested to join the dia. I fought hard to make a pre-mutation, crop up. How do you respond to such ly guaranteed ownership of land. Those who works, layouts and other open pub- known. Now, the building beats anything in department of survey settlement and land or pre-registration, sketch mandatory in allegations? advocate it have no clue about ground real- lic spaces. They are also required the vicinity, the department has acquired a records. It took about a year for the con- this state. The idea is simply that before any- There is a saying in my native state Uttar ities. As a concept, who can oppose it? But to collect relevant documents from dash of importance and the office will soon cept to evolve and to work out the logistics. body sells a property, the government should Pradesh that a fruit-laden tree will always be when you don’t have proper property own- owners of the properties and to com- turn paperless. But the larger change will I didn’t waste any time because I believe measure it. This fair play does not suit land hit. My response is just my work. Do I not em- ership records, how can you guarantee ti- pare them with the records available be felt in urban areas across the state and, whatever I did with Bhoomi would be even sharks, of course, which is why they are op- brace the public-private partnership mod- tles? The urban property ownership records with the urban local bodies. Though hopefully before long, the country. more meaningful in the urban areas. posed to it. Desperate and fraudulent sales el when I know the government does not can jump to titling, but the records under they are not authorised to authenti- The man behind the ongoing urban prop- can no longer take place; the first because have the wherewithal to do everything on its Bhoomi just cannot. So, first, you will have cate ownership, they are required erty ownership records project shared his But, of course, there is a qualitative there is a process involved that slows down own? Do I not create knowledge in the system to clean up records across the country. You to bring to the notice of the govern- passion for reforms in land records and difference between the two projects. the sales a bit, and the second because trans- because somebody will seek to malign me or can only do it gradually because the system ment all cases of discrepancies in governance in an exclusive conversation Certainly. With Bhoomi, we put online ex- parency has been brought into the system. somebody will make money on the side? Do can only take so much reform at one go. Else, claims of individual owners and the with Ashish Sharma. Edited excerpts: isting data. In this case, we are creating I not create knowledge because with knowl- people will butcher you on the streets. So it official records. They are also inevi- knowledge in the system. In the case of Surveyors are again on strike demanding edge will come power and, as custodian of the boils down to what can be achieved. That is tably running into cases of disputed Why focus on land records? rural records, where we are dealing with your removal. Why? data, this department will begin to wield some why we left out Bangalore in the first phase. ownership and encroachments on Land is the mother of all properties. If nearly 70 lakh farmers and around 2 crore Such hurdles are only to be expected in the discretion in certain cases? If they can’t prove public land. Srihari says such cases UID (unique identification) for individuals records, a lot of dirt has come into the sys- path of reforms. There is a revolt in the sys- corruption, they will at least allege it; when How would you describe the politician- will have to be left out and reported is important, so is UID for land. It is well- tem. But with fresh transactions, nearly 10 tem, followed by reconciliation and then that does not work, they will just say that I am bureaucrat relationship? to the department of survey settle- documented that 70% of all disputes cen- lakh records are getting cleaned up every things carry on despite those who try to rude. I am not saying I underestimate those Such questions are best left unanswered. ment and land records. tre around land. According to a report by year. Dust will not come any further; there stop the wheels of progress. Nearly 10 lakh who oppose me; I am just saying I know I must Let me just say that I always try to design The fresh records being created Mckinsey, nearly 1.5% of the country’s GDP will be enough MIS (management informa- properties are sold here every year. So carry on despite them. That’s the only way we systems intelligently and minimise resis- will contain all possible information (gross domestic product) suffers on account tion system) to clean up the system. there is no way I can get all the work done can reform governance in India. tance to my initiatives. 10 GovernanceNow | April 1-15, 2010 www.GovernanceNow.com 11
  3. 3. people politics policy performance Governance Path-Breaker Solutions towards Prosperity In Mysore, India’s about the properties being surveyed. for changing property ownership declare bonafide grantees simply by largest surveying “The number and names of owners records, measurement of property citing ‘missing records’. firm has deployed its staff to measure and map every inch and residents, the exact structure on each floor, the history of alterations in land use and transactions will all in case of disputes and incorporating entries for bank loans etc. That will take a few months more Earlier, even an official of the rank of assistant commissioner could de- clare that records of a property had Asia Competitiveness Forum of land to create property records. figure in our reports,” says Srihari. Chawla has ensured a constant vig- and, if work proceeds as planned, just a year for a similar exercise to gone missing and then proceed to grant ownership to anybody. Chawla April 28 - 29, 2010 il on the work of the private players. Rudresha KV, the officer in charge, begin in Bangalore, which has been left out of the pilot project after got this circular completely changed. Now, a committee instead of an indi- The Hilton, New Delhi says the companies implementing much consideration. The idea is to vidual will rule on such cases. Collec- the project cannot work on more first test capacities, both of the pub- tive bias on the basis of external in- than 5,000 properties each at a time. They are required to submit their re- ports to the department which, in lic and the private partners, before taking on the bigger test in Banga- lore which alone has 40 lakh prop- fluences may not be impossible, he reasons, but it would certainly be far safer than depending on the discre- 75 Discussants turn, peruses all documents and vali- erties. All 276 urban centres across tion of a single individual. Attendees from a cross-section of disciplines including Corporate Heads, dates the records within a week. The the state will, however, be eventual- As Chawla suggests in the accom- Academics, Think Tanks, Government Representatives from various Asian Countries department has deployed 140 peo- ly covered by the project. panying interview, it takes more ple, including five project officers. They pick nearly a fifth of the prop- erties surveyed by the private part- Once that happens, of course, India will step into a completely new era of land reforms. Property owners will than vision to implement an initia- tive such as this. What he does not get to explain, since the interview Sessions and Talks ner for random checks. If the data get to hold indisputable titles, banks preceded the event, is just how dif- supplied by the private partner is will be assured of the most reliable ficult it is for someone who tries to For more details on sponsorship and participation contact found wanting in more than 10 per- of collaterals, even in the post-melt- clean up the system to escape the cent of properties, the entire block of down world, and urban local bodies dirt. Chawla, who initiated this proj- Neera Vohra at +91 98104 73213 or neera.vohra@competitiveness.in properties is required to be surveyed will have access to more authentic ect as commissioner, department of or log on to www.competitiveness.asia again. The acceptable margin of er- data for tax collection as well as safe- survey settlement and land records, ror in the coordinates has been fixed guard against encroachments. was transferred to the Karnataka at just around 5 centimetres. While the project will infuse much- state cooperative marketing federa- www.competitiveness.in The five private partners, who are needed authentic information it tion as managing director within a putting in 80 percent of the invest- threatens to upset entrenched in- few weeks after GovernanceNow in- ment in the pilot project, hope to terest groups that have thrived un- terviewed him. That he is a victim of HOSPITALITY KNOWLEDGE MENTORING PARTNER recover their costs and more once der the system of presumptive rights vested interests is clear from the rea- PARTNERS PARTNER PARTNER FOR SMALL BUSINESS they start providing property re- based on transactions alone. Among son for his transfer: An allegation by cords-related services to citizens. other reforms ushered in to shift to a the mother of Chawla’s driver that Such chargeable services include more transparent system of land re- he “harassed” her son to attempted University Of Michigan provisioning of copies of owner- cords, Chawla took away the discre- suicide! Thank god they can’t wish ship records, accepting requests tionary power vested in officials to away his land reforms that easily.n ONLINE PARTNER MEDIA PARTNERS That if the Commonwealth Games Village is coming up on the Yamuna river bed It jUst in Delhi, why are the residential blocks being christened Sindhu, Ganga, Narmada, OccUrreD tO Us Brahmaputra and Kaveri? Does it mean the Yamuna is a gone case? 12 GovernanceNow | April 1-15, 2010

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