International Conference on Enhancing Land Registration and Cadastre for Economic Growth in India

New Delhi, India, 31 January – 1 February, 2006
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The Taj Palace hotel in New Delhi, India, venue of the symposium.

In his foreword to the programme, Prof. Paul van der Molen, chair of FIG’s Commission 7 on Cadastre and Land Management, highlighted that it is not always easy to relate investments in land administration systems to effects on economic growth and poverty alleviation. For India, McKinsey Global Institute calculated in its report 'The Growth Imperative' (2001) that removing barriers in the performance of the real estate market would propel the economic growth with 1.3%. Apart from inflexible zoning, rent controls and protected tenancies, lack of an efficient land registration system and cadastre also limits growth rates. The relation between land policy and poverty reduction was explored in the research report of the World Bank, 'Land Policy for Growth and Poverty Reduction' (2003). Both reports justify investment in improving land records and land access. During a conference organised by the World Bank and the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, the participants even agreed that improving land administration should be a top-priority for India.

Keeping all the aforementioned in view, GIS Development, Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) and Commission 7 of the International Federation of Surveyors FIG took the initiative to dedicate a two-day international conference on Enhancing Land Registration and Cadastre in India, as part of the bigger event Map India 2006.

The event that witnessed participation of around 50 delegates from different parts of the world, aimed at covering the wide spectrum of issues of land administration ranging from economic and social benefits of good land administration on one hand to the application of low cost technology on the other hand.

Maj. Gen. M Gopal Rao, Surveyor General of India, gave a welcome address. He highlighted that the majority of disputes in rural areas were land related, which might some times run over generations. This leads to chaotic situations for cadastral authorities where they fail to act. In urban areas heavy pressure on land could be observed combined with a violation of land laws. He added that decision making on projects was slow and when decisions were made the population would already have heavily increased.

Dr. M. P. Narayanan, president of the CSDMS focussed during his introductory remarks on the importance of establishment of proper land management, especially in rural areas. He opined that capacity building in relation to land management was inadequate. In his views, many activities are going on but not at the desired pace. András Ossko, Chair elect of FIG Commission 7, stated that sustainable development was the main issue, not only from environmental perspective but also from perspective of economic growth and social development. Mr. V. Sampath, Director General, National Institute for Rural Development (NIRD) mentioned in his speech that maintenance of data was an issue. Resurveys which are scheduled are not happening in reality. Not only private but also collective, use rights and women's access to land are relevant. Dr. Ravi Gupta, CSDMS focussed on the key issues as India loses 1.3% of the GDP due to distortions in the land market. This is created due to unmanaged land records and bad land administration. India's GDP in 2005 is USD 738 billion and 1% loss in GDP comes to USD 73.8 billion per year. The costs of implementing an online cadastre are estimated to be 2 USD billion, so the savings are clear. He further informed that the share of real estate as a percentage of India's GDP is 7% (2002-2003) and this could increase significantly enabling low cost housing, employment and greater economic activity.

A panel discussion on the state of Land Registration in India took place on the first day of the conference. The discussion was chaired by Mr. P. Sarangi, Director, Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, India.

Other key speakers who talked over various aspects of land administration in India were Dr. D R Shukla, National Informatics Centre (NIC), Mr P Rajashekhar, Survey of India (SoI) and Ms Padma A S, ISRO. The presentations made talked over multi-purpose cadastral database, streamlining and simplification of land records maintenance process, incorporation of maps, e-conveyancing, and use of GeoICT. It was stressed that procedures needed to be revised for digital scenarios and integration between different departments involved into one environment was needed.

In his special lecture on secure land tenure, Mr Vinod Agrawal, Survey and Settlements Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh, gave an insight of the pilot project on developing an Integrated LIS. He informed that the proposed LIS would be title based with conclusive ownership records. Updating would to be integrated with transactions and the system would be operated by a dedicated, self-financing agency.

During several lively discussions the points that emerged were that the balance between land titling based on high accurate survey and mapping approaches and the importance of completeness and up-to-date-ness of the land administration is a continuous subject of attention. It seems that different data acquisition approaches in relation to the value of the land seem to provide a solution here, but less accurate approaches seem to be difficult to accept for many.

Institutional arrangements in relation to development and strategic development are required. Land information has to be made accessible under low costs. Low transaction costs are important to encourage land registration. More attention should be given to the requirements of users and to participatory approaches. Implementation of information technology (IT) solutions to support a complete, reliable and consistent land administration will be not a real problem in India. Of course a proper quality and risk management have to be related to this. Standards contribute to efficiency; a very important standard is the reference system that could be upgraded for the usage of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Further it was concluded that the court is not a good environment for providing services. And, land administration is there for all.

During the event deliberations also took place over India’s possible plan to be the member of the International Federation Surveyors (FIG). FIG’s Commission 7 showed its interest of extending full support in this regard.

Saurabh Mishra, GIS Development
Christiaan Lemmen, FIG Commission 7

More information:

February 21/April 3, 2006