History gleefully laughs at our tax administration which wanted to tax retrospectively and implemented its ideas to have an adverse reaction in Singapore and is planning legal steps further therein. But my mind was drawn to a historic but notorious book, named ‘Domesday Book‘ which contains the minutest details of many parts of the U.K. identified in the year 1066 with the cutest minds of that time. Simple as it is, the king wanted to tax his people after compiling full facts about their livelihood, land holdings and income from lands, and even the catch from nearby ponds.
Let me reproduce the book as under:
(Later, I shall discuss how history helped us to introduce “Svamitva”, properly documented digitalized title deeds to the poor who own the lands.
This is my line of argument to welcome the new project which is equally covered at the end to complete this article. This monumental project was recently inaugurated by our distinguished Prime Minister. The narrations of how the UK book was done in 1066 will resonate with what we have achieved as a beginning with nearly 100k properties under Svamitva, a huge task undertaken with the latest technology with a clear purpose to help the poor people)
Funny, as the story goes with the following facts: (All information from the above web site only)
What is “Domesday Book”, reportedly Britain’s finest treasure?
Domesday is Britain’s earliest public record. It contains the results of a huge survey of land and landholding commissioned by William I in 1085. Domesday is by the far the most complete record of pre-industrial society to survive anywhere in the world and provides a unique window on the medieval world.
Some history behind it, amusingly realistic and a treasure hove for any tax consultant to learn from history, most astutely documented:
I understand the king ordered a survey. Then what?
At Christmas 1085, he commissioned a survey to discover the resources and taxable values of all the boroughs and manors in England. He wanted to discover who owned what, how much it was worth, and how much was owed to him as King in tax, rents, and military service.
A reassessment of the tax known as the geld took place at about the same time as Domesday and still survives for the South West. But Domesday is much more than just a tax record. It also records which manors belonged to which estates and gives the identities of the King’s tenants in chief who owed him military service in the form of knights to fight in his army.
The King was essentially interested in tracing, recording, and recovering his royal rights and revenues which he wished to maximize. It was also in the interests of his chief barons to co-operate in the survey since it set on permanent record the tenurial gains they had made since 1066. Together, they created history.
Was the book resonating with Doomsday?
No, it was not even named “Domesday Book”. The history narrates as under:
Now, the real task and how was it accomplished?
The King, William sent his men all over England to all nook and corner
The information was collected in 4 Stages as explained below:
1. All Norman lords who were given the land by the king were advised to give the details of their lands and the same was sent to King’s advisors.
2. To counter verify the details of lands, the king sent a group of officials to almost all parts of his kingdom to look at minutely the details, accumulate more details by discussion, and also physically verify the information. They collected information like how many plows were there, how many worked, what were the number of fisheries, land details, etc. To verify the details once given, the second set of officials came again to verify the prior information collected.
3. Under the watchful eyes of a Bishop, the information related to the King, followed by information related to other owners in the ranks of their holding was written on the back of sheep hides by an ink made of vegetables, plants, etc. The whole labor took 20 years to complete.
4. All findings were written up into the two volumes of the Domesday Book. Great Domesday was written by one scribe and checked by the second group of officials. It was ensured that repeated information remained uniform in all places. Little Domesday was written first and it was the work of at least 6 scribes.
Now that we learned from history how England became the most meticulous and documented nation with all information which helped hundreds of years to plan and execute the vision which ultimately made it the ruler of the world, including India.
Let me admit the fact that this interesting history propelled me to write about Svamitva, the latest venture of our country under which nearly 100k people from 678 villages received their landholdings duly verified by digital means. Let us learn its successful operations with full details.
What is so special about Svamitva?
SVAMITVA Scheme is a Central Sector scheme launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on National Panchayat Day i.e. 24th April 2020. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is the Nodal Ministry for the implementation of the scheme.
I am giving below its web site for guidance.
In the States, the Revenue Department / Land Records Department will be the Nodal Department and shall carry out the scheme with the support of the State Panchayati Raj Department. The Survey of India shall work as the technology partner for implementation.
But, what does the scheme aim to achieve?
The scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India. The demarcation of rural Abadi areas would be done using Drone Surveying technology.
This would provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners possessing houses in inhabited rural areas in villages which, in turn, would enable them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits from Bank. Bankers or other financiers would have to believe the rights of the villagers under this scheme.
What is the objective of this scheme?
The scheme seeks to achieve the following objectives: –
i. To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
ii. Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
iii. Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
iv. Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
v. To support the preparation of a better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
vi. To reduce property related disputes and legal cases. Crores of court cases related to land records.
Under this scheme, villagers get property cards.
What is a property card?
A Property card is the land record of ownership and history of ownership of the land in an urban area. Normally, when your land property is located in a municipal area and has got City Survey number, the details of transfers of ownership/ transactions of such property are recorded in the property card. So, a property card basically provides information about the ownership of a property and the history of holdings of land located in an urban area. If you are planning to buy land in an urban area, it is essential that you check the property card of the seller and ensure his/her ownership of the land.
May I know what are the details that would be included in the property card?
Details included in Property Card: The Property Card contains almost all the information about a property such as:
Features of this card
The government hopes this move will pave the way for using the property as a financial asset by villagers for taking loans and other financial benefits. This is also the first time that such a large-scale exercise involving modern technology is being carried out to benefit millions of rural property owners.
There are about 6.62 lakh villages in the country which will be eventually covered under this scheme. The entire work is likely to be spread over a period of four years.
Presently, the pilot phase is being approved for the year 2020-21. Pilot Phase will extend to six pilot States (Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand) covering approx. 1 lakh villages in 678 villages.
Who are the stakeholders involved under this scheme?
The following stakeholders would be involved in carrying out the scheme:
The Rural inhabited (Abadi) area would be mapped by Survey of India in collaboration with the State Revenue Department to generate revenue maps to confer ownership property rights. The images captured through Drone would be processed by Survey of India in its Geographic Information System lab.
The procedure after obtaining of images by Survey of India.
The data processing like base map generation, generation of land parcel maps at a scale of 1:500, linking of attributes with extracted topographical features, creation of boundaries for villages, Numbering of properties/structures within village Abadi area /Lal Dora area as per the numbering system provided by State Government, creation of GIS databases, and ground validation of processed images will be done by Survey of India.
Joint verification of ownership is done by the state revenue authorities and gram panchayat officials. Then the inquiry process like where survey officials verify ownership of the land parcels, with the help of Gram Sabha, landowners, and review the existing documents takes place.
The enquiry officer from the Survey department extends his expertise to finalize the ownership rights after looking after objections from all stakeholders. Then, final Digital maps/ LPM /DEM/ GIS datasets would be generated and handed over to the MoPR/Authorized agency as per the standard procedure for use.
Printing and distribution of property cards to village household owners (legal document of property ownership). completes the process.
History indicates to ourselves how nearly 1000 years ago, the British king undertook steps to map out his kingdom for purely selfish reasons to get more revenue from his citizens. But this has set the world standard for up-gradation of land records, its maintenance and now usage of most modern satellite mapping, usage of drone and all mapping excellence to hand over the property titles to the poorest landowner who has been struggling over thousands of years to regain his legal titles.
This coupled with the courage of the central/state governments and all specialists whom I have mentioned earlier have drawn new dawn for our agriculturists, landowners, homeowners, and state/central authorities to help themselves legally to fulfill their roles effectively.
This is a small step in fulfilling the dream of our founder members of the nation at the time of independence.
The above ideas expressed in this article clearly pertain to my view. Neither they represent taxguru.in nor the government of India. Anyone seriously looking for guidance has to refer to government sources.