After years of slumber, govt wakes up to survey of cities

Land ownership: Exercise will also help identify encroachments

An aerial view of Bangalore City. DH File photo Khata, sale deed, tax-paid receipt... these and many more documents are mere proofs of transactions done over a property or having paid some levy to the government agencies, and they do not denote the ownership.

Urban property records are in a mess in the State. The government and the urban local bodies have been only collecting taxes and cess on private properties over the last several decades and not bothered to issue ownership title to people. The government has not even maintained proper ownership records of its own properties in urban areas of the State.

As per the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, Directorate of Survey Settlement and Land Records (SSLR) of the State Revenue department should conduct city survey, identify properties, both private and public, in urban areas, cross check the ownership and issue property cards or ownership titles to the owners every five years. The property cards thus issued are authentic ownership documents. These cards will have vital details like origin of the properties, measurement and encumbrance, if any.

Previous survey

But the survey was never done  in the State, except once in 1966-67 in the then Bangalore, covering 112 villages in 131 sq km area. It was done in a few towns coming under the now Belgaum revenue division during the British rule in 1919. The survey was done by the erstwhile Bombay Presidency to collect taxes from property owners. The property cards are still valid ownership documents in these places and one can obtain a property card extract from the SSLR even today.

However, ownership records of agriculture land are by and large in the clear following implementation of the award-winning Bhoomi project. Under the project, rural land records or RTC (Rights of Tenancy and Crops) have been computerised after conducting a survey. The SSLR has maintained proper maps of all villages along with survey numbers.

Since 1966-77, Bangalore city has grown by leaps and bounds. And so are other major cities and towns like Mysore, Belgaum, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Gulbarga, Shimoga, Tumkur, Bellary and Davnagere. Thousands of properties have been included in urban conglomeration over the years and transactions have been done on these properties, but without ownership titles.

As a result, a large number of private and public properties are mired in legal disputes. Land sharks have reaped benefits of them by gobbling up large parcels of government land in and around major cities and towns by creating fictitious documents.

There are many instances of the government failing to establish ownership of its properties and losing them to land grabbers, in the absence of proper documents.
According to the Task Force for Protection of Government Lands, about 12 lakh acres of government land has been encroached upon across the State.

Most of these encroachments are identified in urban areas, especially in and around Bangalore, where the land value is very high. Of the total 1.50 lakh acres of government land in Bangalore urban district, about 34,000 acres, valued at whopping Rs 60,000 crore, have been under encroachment.

Ray of hope

The government has realised its mistake at least now and taken up the city survey in the name of Urban Property Ownership Records (UPOR) project. The survey is presently on in five cities of Mysore, Mangalore, Shimoga, Hubli-Dharwad and Bellary.

The SSLR has obtained permission from the government to extend the project in 10 more towns, including Bangalore metropolitan area, during the current financial year.
How is the survey done?

Spatial data of revenue records are being created by superimposing old village maps (villages once existed before turning into urban areas) with the present urban areas. By doing so, the government and the private land can be identified.

The spatial data will be verified using property documents available with both private owners and the government.

The SSLR will collect copies of available property documents like sale deed, khata and title deed from the existing owners for verification, besides conducting  physical measurement of properties.

Property cards will be issued to the owners after establishing the ownership by collecting a nominal fee, according to SSLR Deputy Director K V Rudresha, incharge of the project implementation.

Notice to owners

The SSLR will issue notices to the owners in case of doubts on ownership. If they submit all required documents and prove the ownership, then such properties will be notified calling for public objections.

If there is no objection, the property cards will be issued. A database of all properties will be created and the SSLR will be the custodian of ownership titles.

Registration system to change

After completing the city survey, the government plans to introduce the Torrens system of property registration.

Presently, the Stamps and Registration department only registers sale deeds, which is aimed at collecting stamp duty and registration fees for sale transactions. Under Torrens system, property cards or ownership title will be registered along with the sale deed. This will put an end on fake registrations, which is rampant now.

Highlights

* City survey was last done in 1966-67 in Bangalore.

* The erstwhile Bombay Presidency had done a survey in towns coming under Belgaum revenue division in 1919.

* The survey was not done in any other cities and towns.

* Rural land records are by and large in the clear after implementation of Bhoomi project.

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