The Bhu-Aadhaar project, a part of the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP), aims to revolutionize the management of land records in India. It is considered the world’s largest database on land ownership and is being implemented by the Department of Land Resources in collaboration with the central and state governments. The project seeks to digitize land records and registrations, thereby streamlining the process, reducing land disputes, and providing efficient services to citizens. While the Union Government has set a target to implement the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) by March 2024, the Kerala Government has expressed the need for four additional years due to practical challenges. This essay explores the significance of the Bhu-Aadhaar project, its potential benefits, and the efforts undertaken by the Kerala Government to implement it in the state.
Importance of the Bhu-Aadhaar Project
The Bhu-Aadhaar project holds immense significance for India, as land-related disputes and legal hurdles have been a major hindrance to the country’s progress. With 66% of all civil suits in India being related to land or property disputes, the project aims to address these challenges and promote efficient governance. By digitizing land records and creating a comprehensive database, the project intends to achieve the following:
a. Resolving land disputes: The Bhu-Aadhaar project seeks to put an end to land disputes by providing accurate and up-to-date land records that can be easily accessed and verified. This will reduce litigation and ease the burden on the courts, which currently face a massive backlog of land-related cases.
b. Promoting economic growth: Land disputes have often led to projects being stalled, resulting in significant losses to the economy. By mitigating such disputes, the Bhu-Aadhaar project can contribute to economic growth and development. It is estimated that the GDP loss due to litigation involving land disputes amounts to about 1.3% of the country’s economy.
c. Citizen-centric governance: The project aligns with the government’s agenda of Citizen-Centric Governance, aiming to provide efficient and transparent services to citizens. With digitized land records, individuals can access information regarding land ownership, transfers, and other relevant details conveniently.
2. Implementation Challenges and Kerala Government’s Stand
Despite the potential benefits, the implementation of the Bhu-Aadhaar project faces practical challenges, leading the Kerala Government to request an extension of four years. These challenges include:
a. Complex land ownership patterns: Kerala has a unique land ownership structure, with a significant number of joint family-owned properties and multiple stakeholders. Accurately mapping and digitizing such complex ownership patterns requires extensive groundwork, meticulous documentation, and robust data management systems.
b. Geographic diversity: Kerala’s geographical diversity, with its hilly terrain and densely populated urban areas, presents additional challenges for land survey and mapping. The state government needs to ensure that accurate and precise data is collected, considering these geographical variations, to maintain the integrity of the land records.
c. Technological infrastructure: The successful implementation of the Bhu-Aadhaar project heavily relies on a robust technological infrastructure. This includes reliable internet connectivity, data storage facilities, and skilled personnel to manage the digital land records. Kerala, like many other states in India, faces infrastructural limitations that need to be addressed before a comprehensive rollout can be achieved.
d. Public awareness and participation: For the project to succeed, it is crucial to involve and educate the public about the benefits of digitized land records. Public awareness campaigns, training programs, and outreach initiatives need to be conducted to ensure the active participation of citizens and their cooperation in the transition from traditional land records to the digital platform.
To overcome these challenges, the Kerala Government has undertaken several initiatives:
a. Integrated Land Portal ‘Ente Bhoomi’: The government has developed an integrated land portal called ‘Ente Bhoomi,’ which will serve as a one-stop solution for accessing land-related information and availing various services. This portal will be fully operational upon the completion of the digital resurvey of land.
b. Digital resurvey of land: The state government has embarked on a comprehensive digital resurvey of land, aiming to update and authenticate land records across all 14 districts of Kerala. The resurvey is being conducted in phases, with the first phase covering 200 revenue villages. This meticulous process ensures that accurate data is captured and forms the foundation for the digitization of land records.
c. Integrated Land Records Management system (ILRMS): The ILRMS is a crucial component of the Bhu-Aadhaar project, enabling the government to maintain and manage land records efficiently. Through this system, citizens will be able to access land details and avail various services seamlessly. The Kerala Government is investing in the development and deployment of the ILRMS to enhance its land administration capabilities.
The Bhu-Aadhaar project holds tremendous potential to transform land governance in India, offering efficient and transparent services to citizens. While the Union Government has set a target for its implementation by March 2024, the Kerala Government has sought an extension of four years, citing practical difficulties unique to the state. The challenges in implementing the project, such as complex land ownership patterns, geographic diversity, technological infrastructure, and public participation, require careful planning, coordination, and infrastructure development. The efforts undertaken by the Kerala Government, including the development of the ‘Ente Bhoomi’ portal, digital resurvey of land, and the implementation of the ILRMS, demonstrate the state’s commitment to realizing the benefits of the Bhu-Aadhaar project. By addressing these challenges and ensuring effective implementation, Kerala can pave the way for other states in India to embrace digitization in land governance, contributing to the country’s ambitious goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy while fostering efficient and citizen-centric governance.