Survey & Cadastre Aspect of Land Records Modernization

As a key input for economic activity, land, is central to the development of human society. Understanding the crucial role of land in economic development, the government of India launched the National Land Records Management Program (NLRMP), to integrate land records, RoRs, mutations and cadastral maps under a single land information system, thus promoting transparency and efficiency in the land domain.

A key aspect of any land records modernization program is the conducting of land surveys and the interpretation of cadastral records. A cadastre is generally the principal source of information when it comes to the ownership rights of a land. Even when talking about fiscal cadastres, the tax records may contain in them the evidence of land ownership. Though there may be instances of plots being subdivided to make smaller units or cases where adjoining parcels were amalgamated to make larger parcels, the amount of land covered by them remains unchanged; hence, the cadastral record becomes a pertinent record of ownership and modernization programs are thus laying emphasis, on its identification and digitization, for proof and ease of access.

The spatial component of records is important to build a consolidated cadastre based system at the state level and/or a national spatial data infrastructure, over time. However, in existing records, spatial records is often less accurate than textual data and there are data mismatches between textual and spatial records. The recordings of spatial data is also marred by significant human error. In case of resurveys, there may be issues of reconciling the spatial boundaries and the textual data in existing records, with the boundaries identified during fresh surveys.

Coming to the co-related topic of land surveys, land records modernization and lack of integration of textual and spatial records, proper land surveys have been neglected by a lot of states. The fact of the matter is that in some cases, even the original survey used for cadastral mapping has not taken place, in quite a few parts of the nation. Another point to take into consideration is that the earlier traditional methods of land survey, (i.e. lattha, chains etc.), are too time-consuming and costly; hence, for conducting land surveys and the updating of survey and settlement records for land records modernization, using modern day technologies.

NLRMP seeks to establish a Core GIS (Geographical Information System) that will allow the integration of a plethora of services and help in the creation of a multi-purpose cadastre, a crucial contributor of which is the modernization of land records. It is important to note hence, that the attribute data that is entered through data entry processes, now needs to be linked to village/cadastral maps, to realize the boundary of a particular land unit and its surrounding features.

This would primarily involve three layers:

  1. Cadastral maps from revenue records
  2. Spatial data from aerial photograph or the other survey techniques
  3. Survey/resurvey of India and Forest Survey of India maps.

For a better land management system, it is pertinent to create land records data that is properly georeferenced, digitized and subsequently integrated with other land parameters that are important for planning and decision making. With the DILRMP making considerable headway in conducting cadastral/land surveys using the latest technology, it’s a hopeful start to dispute-free, digitized integration of land titles which can further facilitate easy implementation and computerization of land laws/mutation processes.

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Author: Pawan Sachdeva Practice Head – Land Governance, IL&FS Technologies Limited

Pawan Sachdeva is responsible for driving the business growth and strategic direction of the land governance business unit at ITL. Since his joining in 2011, he has been instrumental in the land governance business growth from 4 references, to currently around 12 references. A Post Graduate in Business Administration from Symbiosis, and almost 15 years of experience in IT/ GIS industry.
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