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How SVAMITVA scheme aims to transform rural India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the physical distribution of property cards under the ‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme on Sunday, calling it a ‘historic move’ set to transform rural India.

This launch will enable nearly one lakh property holders to download their property cards through SMS on their mobile phones and pave the way for villagers to use property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.

According to the PMO, 763 villages across six states are beneficiaries of this scheme, which includes 346 from Uttar Pradesh, 221 from Haryana, 100 from Maharashtra, 50 from Uttarakhand, 44 from Madhya Pradesh, and two from Karnataka. ­­The six states had signed a MoU with Survey of India for drone survey of rural areas and implementation of the scheme. The physical distribution of the property cards will also be undertaken by the respective state governments.

The SVAMITVA scheme was launched by PM Modi in April this year with the aim to update rural land records, providing record of rights to village households and issue property cards. SVAMITVA is a central scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development and will be implemented across the country in a phased manned over the next four years, covering around 6.62 lakh villages.

The scheme focuses on mapping rural-inhabited lands using drones as land records are inaccurate or do not exist for vast areas across India. Even though 60 per cent of the country lives in rural areas, villagers do not have ownership documents of their homes despite records being kept of agricultural land.

These land records play an important role for Gram Panchayats that currently struggle with generating revenues, especially through property tax, who can better invest in the needs of local communities. Only 19 per cent of potential property tax was being collected by Gram Panchayats, according to the 2018 Economic Survey.

As once ownership of property becomes easy to demarcate and prove, its prices will also be fixed. Then the property cards can be used to take loans, improving the tax regime at the Panchayati level. Beyond that, this effort may bring about more financial stability for rural India, give accurate land records that can be used for planning, help in calibrating property tax and give a structural recourse for legal matters in property disputes.

This is the first time that a large-scale exercise involving modern technology is being carried out to benefit millions of rural property owners. Around one lakh villages in UP, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka, and a few border villages of Punjab and Rajasthan will be covered in the pilot phase (2020-21).



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