The Svamitva Scheme
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TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Welfare Schemes
- Indian Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj has issued guidelines regarding the Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Area (SVAMITVA) scheme.
- It is a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj
- The aim is to enable villagers to use a property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
The need for this Yojana was felt since several villagers in the rural areas don’t have papers proving ownership of their land. In most states, survey and measurement of the populated areas in the villages has not been done for the purpose of attestation/verification of properties.Lack of accurate land records are felt most acutely in times of crisis. Cyclone Amphan has devastated vast expanses of coastal Odisha and West Bengal, and left millions homeless. Any relief efforts aimed at helping people rebuild their homes would benefit hugely from land records that identify who lived where, and the boundaries and extent of their land. In the absence of these, there is the danger of the weakest sections losing out on the little they had, with no ability to claim compensation from the government.
Land records also play an important role in the financial resilience of Gram Panchayats. Gram Panchayats that are able to generate their own revenues will be able to invest in the needs of their local communities. However, Gram Panchayats have a poor track record of generating revenues, especially through property tax. The 2018 Economic Survey estimated only 19% of the potential property tax was being collected by Gram Panchayats. One possible reason for low collection would be the lack of data about the properties – where are they located, are they residential or commercial, what should be the appropriate tax value, and who should be taxed.
Swamitva Yojana is aimed to fill the above gap to provide ownership rights to people in the villages. It is expected to go a long way in settling property rights in rural hinterlands and likely to become a tool for empowerment and entitlement, reducing social strife on account of discord over properties.
- It is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.
- It is currently being implemented in six states –
- Madhya Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
- It aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India for setting the boundaries of the rural lands.
- Latest drone survey technology shall be used for mapping of rural housing land. Drones will draw a digital map of every property falling within the geographical limits of a village and demarcate the boundaries of every revenue area.
- Property card for every property in the village will be prepared by states using accurate measurements delivered by drone-mapping. These cards will be given to property owners and will be recognised by the land revenue records department.
- This scheme will help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas.
- This will also help in resolving property related disputes.
- After getting the property card, easy access to loans from banks on their (beneficiaries’) houses would be ensured.
- The scheme will enable creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs).
- The property records for a village will also be maintained at the Panchayat level, allowing for the collection of associated taxes from the owners. The money generated from these local taxes will be used to build rural infrastructure and facilities. The accurate property records can be used for facilitating tax collection, new building and structure plan, issuing of permits and for thwarting attempts at property grabbing
- Will help in strengthening the Panchayati Raj system for which efforts are underway for the past 6 years.
The Way Forward
- Engage the community from the start: Land and boundaries can be a charged topic, which more often than not discourages any policy reform. However, by involving the community, it is possible to create greater acceptance of the process and reduce potential for disputes. When the land boundaries are drawn by the people themselves, there is a high level of transparency and neighbours act as a check and balance, while building consensus on boundaries.
- Protect the most vulnerable people: Land often has deep roots in social power structures, including caste and gender biases. Dalits, women, tenant farmers and tribal communities are often excluded from accessing land, even though they may legitimately have a claim. It would be important to build safeguards in the implementation process to ensure legitimate claims of the most vulnerable people are not crowded out by louder, or powerful voices. Awareness drives to familiarize people with digital land records, how to interpret and access them, also need to be built into the program to avoid information asymmetry and ensure access across user groups.
- Establish a grievance redressal system: Even with the best of intentions, it is possible that the process will create grievances for some people. Drawing learnings from Odisha’s Kalia and Mo Sarkaar programmes, a grievance redressal system that effectively addresses people’s concerns in a transparent and fair manner, will go a long way in smooth implementation of the program.
- Enable markets to work: It would be simplistic to expect that updated property records alone will make credit flow into rural areas. Credit needs marketable collateral, so it would be important to ensure there is a functional market for the underlying collateral – land. This would require states to simplify the legislative and regulatory procedures to build consumer confidence and encourage transactions in these areas.
Modernising land records is one of the foundational steps towards mending and reimagining broken institutional arrangements, which are pivotal in today’s circumstances. The announcement of this scheme has signaled political will at the Centre to create reliable land records, which has been long overdue.
Connecting the Dots:
- How will the Svamitva Scheme empower rural India through land record modernization? Discuss.