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Update land records to include FRA titles allotted

  • Published
    30th Nov, 2022

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has written a letter to states across the country, directing them to record settlement rights in revenue and forest records within a period of three months.

  • The digital information on the record of rights (RoR) under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 has been planned to be integrated into the PARISH portal and other web GIS platforms of central and state government departments.
  • This should be done after the completion of the process of settlement of rights and issuance of titles by the States.
  • The map should then be incorporated into the land records under relevant state laws.
  • Land ownership can be determined through a set of documents.  These include:
    • The record of rights (RoR), which captures details such as the name of the landholder, the number and size of the plot area, and revenue rate (for agricultural land),
    • The registered sale deed to prove that the property has been sold from one person to the other, and the taxes on the sale have been paid,
    • Survey documents to record a property’s boundaries and area, and prove that the property is listed in government records, and
    • Property tax receipts.

Land Ownership in India:

  • In India, land ownership is primarily established through a registered sale deed (a record of the property transaction between the buyer and seller).
  • Other documents used to establish ownership include the record of rights (document with details of the property), property tax receipts, and survey documents. 
  • However, these documents are not a government-guaranteed title to the property, but only a record of the transfer of property. 
  • During such transactions, the onus of checking past ownership records of a property is on the buyer. 
  • Therefore, land ownership in India, as determined by such sale deeds, is presumptive in nature, and subject to challenge.

Need for allocation of Land Titles:

  • High litigation: Land disputes add to the burden of the courts, tie up land in litigation, and further impact sectors and projects that are dependent on these disputed land titles.
  • Agricultural credit: Land is often used as collateral for obtaining loans by farmers.  It has been observed that disputed or unclear land titles inhibit the supply of capital and credit for agriculture.
  • Development of new infrastructure.
  • To avoid Benami Transactions.

Why are land titles in India unclear?

The system of land records was inherited from the zamindari system, the legal framework in India does not provide guaranteed ownership, and the manner in which information pertaining to land records is collected and maintained further exacerbates the gaps in these records. 

Loopholes in Governance:

  • Lack of Departmental coordination: Land records consist of various types of information (property maps, sale deeds) and are maintained across different departments at the district or village level.
    • These departments work in silos, and the data across departments is not updated properly. Hence, discrepancies are often noted in land records.
  • Delayed updation of Records: In the past, surveys to update land records have not been undertaken or completed, and maps have not been used to establish actual property boundaries on the ground.
    • Therefore, in several records, the property documents do not match the position on the ground.
  • Transfer of adequate information: Poor land records also affect future property transactions. It becomes difficult and cumbersome to access land records when data is spread across departments and has not been updated.
  • Redundancy in the documentation: One has to go back several years of documents, including manual records, to find any ownership claims on a piece of property. Such a process is inefficient and causes time delays.

Jurisdiction of lands after providing Titles:

  • Records of the title’: prove the ownership of land and the rights and restrictions that apply to the land.
  • If the forest lands where titles are distributed, fall under the administrative control of the Revenue Department, they should incorporate the RoR in the revenue records while in case of forest lands falling under the administrative control of the Forest Department, the Forest Department should include the records of the titles in the forest records.

What is the purpose of incorporating forest lands under the Revenue system?

  • Overcome Tribal conflicts: It will help to overcome the conflict between the Tribal and Officials regarding land rights including in the Forest area.
  • Restrict the rights to States: The states will update the records according to their own laws, so MoEF&CC or the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs cannot frame guidelines for them.
  • Ensure Digitization of land records: The ministry has also directed states to undertake geographic information system (GPS) surveys of each land patch and maintain geo-referenced digital vector boundaries of the polygons.
  • Inclusive growth in the areas: Geo-referencing of RoR under FRA will benefit the states' people as the forest and tribal welfare departments will be able to initiate specific projects and schemes for improving the livelihoods of the FRA title holders.

Other Government Initiatives:

  • Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme: The main aims of DILRMP are to usher in a system of updated land records, automated and automatic mutation, integration between textual and spatial records, inter-connectivity between revenue and registration, to replace the present deeds registration and presumptive title system with that of conclusive titling with title guarantee.
  • Computerization of Land Records (CLR) & Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR) are the two Centrally sponsored schemes.
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