The Need for Transparency in Land Governance
August 27, 2018 In E-GOVERNANCEAccess to land and secure tenure, have been universallyaccepted as being the fundamental basis for the promotion of economic growth and social development. In recent times, however, the efforts to secure tenure, enhance real property market under pressure and restore rights in the face of increasing demand and competition for land, has in several countries, led to insecurity of tenure for disadvantaged groups, marginalization of the poor and consolidation of wealth, the leading factor for which, is lack of transparency in governance. Land governance, as a sector, has been ripe for abuse/corruption and these are the issues that have plagued it incessantly. The lack of transparency results in increased difficulty in unlocking the actual value of the land as an asset and the lack of general awareness about legal frameworks surrounding land policies, undermines land tenure security that may end up in potential misallocation of land rights. Be it a corrupt official, taking a kickback for authorizing development or a clerk asking for a bribe for the registration of a small plot; corruption can endanger livelihoods, distort markets and promote inequality. As per a research conducted by Transparency International, countries with rampant land corruption were likely to have a weaker economy, lower scale of development, poorer agricultural outputs, and lesser foreign investment. Land administration systems and decision-making mechanisms, due to their opaque nature exacerbate the problem of corruption by land officials even further. Without the requisite information on the status and transfer of land owned by the state, intermediaries and communities have no access resources to advocate for the protection of land rights or lobby for unrecognized official rights. Despite the apparent need for transparency in land governance, the data that is needed to connect these links has in the past, remained relatively closed.Hence, to improve the accessibility and efficiency of land records and keep frauds in check, the Government of India launched the National Land Record Modernization Program (NLRMP) and by extension the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP), the primary objective for which was the end to end computerization of land records and a subsequent migration from the existent presumptive titling system to a conclusive titling system.The program coupled with variousstate piloted/implemented projects like the ‘Bhoomi’ Project in Karnataka, LGAF studies in Odisha, various legislative acts etc., areseeking to facilitate the path towards a more transparent land administration system which aims to bring about regulatory/institutional changes in key areas such as: • Recognition of rights and their enforcement • Land management, land use planning, and taxation • Management of public land • Public provision of land information (digital cadastral data and ownership information) • Conflict management and dispute resolution Thus, via the documentation of governance procedures, automating processes, ensuring data security etc. – transparency in land administration can help in protecting the property rights of individuals and enterprise, as well as facilitate principles such as accountability, equity, participation, rule of law, effectiveness into land related public sector management and conflict resolution, all of which can hence ensure good governance and fundamentally transform the face of real-estate in India, bringing it at par with global standards.