Rural property survey soon to check frauds

Rural property survey soon to check frauds

This exercise comes three years after the government unearthed a massive scam.

Properties on the outskirts of Bengaluru, where realty prices are high, will be surveyed for the first time under a project to ascertain their ownership and bring them under the tax net.

This exercise comes three years after the government unearthed a massive scam in which documents were falsified to sell non-agricultural properties multiple times to gullible buyers.

In 2016, the department discovered illegalities worth at least Rs 300 crore in which thousands of properties in and around Bengaluru were fraudulently registered. This was confirmed in a probe report submitted by retired IAS officer R B Agawane.

Village panchayat officials bypassed rules and arbitrarily issued Forms 9 and 11 — khata and tax demand register, respectively, for non-agriculture properties located in rural areas. The developer then sold the property and got it registered with the sub-registrar. The unassuming buyer would end up being conned as the developer got the forms cancelled so that the same property can be re-sold to another buyer.

Now, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department will pilot the digitisation project in 95 gram panchayat limits in the Bengaluru Urban district. “The survey work is expected to start July,” RDPR principal secretary L K Atheeq said.

The department has asked Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre to obtain latest maps of Bengaluru Urban district from Isro. "From these maps, polygons will be created with each one denoting a collection of properties. A door-to-door survey will be done,” Atheeq said.

During the door-to-door survey, property owners will be asked to furnish a valid title, conversion order (if agricultural land was converted for non-agricultural purpose) and approval orders for residential layouts.

“With this, we can identify and curb illegal property transactions,” Atheeq said.

The project will bring more properties under e-Swathu, the RDPR database. “Currently, gram panchayat properties are on our Panchatantra database, which is nothing but a list. Bringing properties under e-Swathu will ease sale of properties, provide an updated ownership through Forms 9 and 11 and help tax collection,” Atheeq said.

Also, the project will help gram panchayats improve tax collection efficiency. Gram panchayats are empowered to levy taxes on residential, commercial, industrial properties, vacant plots, hoardings, mobile towers among others. So far, they have collected only Rs 474 crore in taxes against a total liability of Rs 1,895 crore. There are 1.22 crore properties under 6,024 gram panchayats.