What is the SVAMITVA Scheme and how will Geospatial Technology help it?
Land records modernization has been recognized as a cornerstone of societal stability and sustainable growth by economists and sociologists, alike. Countries that have invested in upgrading and modernizing their land records systems have witnessed steady economic development. No wonder, The World Bank includes Registering Property as one of the indicators to measure its ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’. Thus, many countries are dedicatedly focusing on modernizing land administration and bringing together multiple stakeholders from the government, civil society, national mapping agencies, and the private sector to work hand in hand with citizens, to ensure mapping, documentation, and registry of land records are done in a fair, transparent and legally abiding manner, such that they hold value for loans and mortgage, bringing a sense of security and confidence to the landowners and a source of revenue for local governments. The situation in India is no different from other developing countries, where either the land parcels have not been mapped for decades or landowners do not have proper documentation supporting ownership or use rights.
What is the SVAMITVA Scheme?
The Government of India launched the SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme on National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, 2020. The scheme’s aim is to provide integrated property validation solution to rural India. It enables village households to use their immovable property as a financial asset for taking loans and strengthening rural infrastructure by institutionalizing the asset and tax collection register. The scheme outlines undertaking drone survey of villages, preparing property maps, and maps of other Gram Panchayat and community assets like village roads, ponds, canals, open spaces, school, Anganwadi, Health sub-centres, etc. and base Records of Rights of property upon these maps. The Government of India has a target to cover 6.62 lakh villages under the scheme. The SVAMITVA scheme will be administered across the regular departmental mechanisms, which will be supported by Program Management Units at the National and State level.
The Government of India will also establish a grievance addressal system that will effectively try to solve people’s concerns in the most transparent and fair manner for smooth implementation of the program. A similar system has already been designed in Odisha’s Kalia and Mo Sarkaar programs.
SVAMITVA scheme involves communities from grassroots level where villagers themselves draw land boundaries that bring transparency in property rights demarcation. Engaging people in the process has resulted in its higher acceptance and will also reduce disputes.
The scheme aims to ensure that all sections of society, including marginalized communities like Dalits, women, tenant farmers and tribal communities are involved in the process and have legitimate claim to their land. However, this will require various awareness programs to sensitize the rural population about the surveying methodology and its benefits.
How does Geospatial Technology help SVAMITVA scheme?
Geospatial Technologies play a central role in the SVAMITVA scheme. The scheme outlines the use of drone technology and Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) by mapping the land parcels in rural inhabited areas in a phase-wise manner over a period of four years from 2020 to 2024.
To initiate the process the first and foremost task outlined was the establishment of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) network. CORS network will provide a virtual base station to access long range high accuracy network RTK corrections. It will also help in establishing ground control points which ensure accurate georeferencing, ground truthing and demarcation of lands. Next step is drone survey, where large scale mapping of villages using camera and sensors mounted over drones is being done to generate high resolution map of abadi area and other assets of villages.
The scheme also involves the creation of Spatial Planning Application named as “Gram Manchitra” where maps generated through drones will be leveraged. The entire process will entail Online Monitoring and reporting dashboard system that will monitor the progress of activities.
Survey of India, as the national mapping agency of the country has been given the responsibility for the delivery of:
- CORS Network RTK service of ≤ 5 cm horizontal accuracy for five (05) years
- Accurate geo-referenced digital maps using established control survey network based on National Spatial reference framework of the country
- Geodetic network with co-ordinates and sketches of the control points showing their description and location. GCP (Ground Control Points) — the location and ids of all the control points will be maintained in GIS (Geographical Information System) form and the coordinated list will be maintained in both system of latitude/longitude and WGS 84 (World Geodetic System 1984) and UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) Coordinate System zone via CORS (Continuous Operating Reference System) network
- Metadata of features. Raw data of the ground survey work
- Proper indexed map with proper sheet number on the following scales:
- Vertical Accuracy 0.2 m for all areas (Rural abadi area/lal dora)
- Village Lal Dora/Abaadi on 1:500 (Ortho Rectified Images at 5 cm GSD (Ground Sampling Distance); ± 5 cm Horizontal accuracy
- Mosaic map of villages. Spatial and non-spatial data dictionary with feature codes, feature type (line, points and polygon). Feature description and symbols.
- GIS data base prepared on 1:500 scale on UTM projection and WGS-84 datum.
- DEM of ≤ 20 cm vertical accuracy for the village habited area.
- Hard copy maps on 1:500 scale (04 No’s each) for a village on good quality 90 GSM paper along-with pdf copy for future printing purposes.
- Training courses for technical staff of at various levels in NIGST, Hyderabad.
The Geospatial Industry is working in close coordination with the Survey of India to provide the requisite products, and services for successful implementation of the SVAMITVA scheme. With the release of the Geospatial Policy and Guidelines, the collaboration between the Survey of India, drone companies and geospatial industry is set to become stronger for achieving the mapping targets set in the scheme.
Benefits of SVAMITVA program
With the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Department, State Revenue Departments, Survey of India, and the drone and geospatial industry players, the scheme will ensure integrated property validation solution by issuing property card for villagers of India.
As an outcome of the scheme, citizens will be able to access real-time land ownership records with proper security IDs, without the fear of confidentiality breach of their information. Ease of access to the records will also diminish interface between the citizen and the Government functionaries, thereby cutting rent seeking and harassment.
As the landowners will be provided conclusive titling irrespective of their social status and gender, the move will substantially reduce litigation and empower the marginalized communities.
It will encourage credit flow in the rural areas as land will serve as a financial collateral and villagers will be able to avail loans and other benefits from banks and lending agencies. Villagers in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra have already started witnessing such benefits during the pilot phase.
As the SVAMITVA scheme will prepare maps of community assets like village roads, ponds, canals, open spaces, school, Anganwadi, Health sub-centres, etc., it will help prepare accurate work estimates for various works undertaken by the Gram Panchayats and other Departments of State Government and to prepare better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).
As the SVAMITVA scheme will also survey and map other community assets like village roads, ponds, canals, open spaces, school, Anganwadi, Health sub-centres, etc. This will further help prepare accurate work estimates for various development works undertaken by Gram Panchayats and other Departments of State Government.
The program will also strengthen development of rural infrastructure and demand estimation activity of the gram panchayats by institutionalizing the assets and tax collection together. It has often been seen that the Gram Panchayats fail in generating revenue, particularly through property tax. The reason behind this is a lack of data related to properties. For example, location of the property, if the property is a residential or a commercial property, appropriate tax value of the property, and who should be taxed for it. With the successful implementation of the project, Gram Panchayats will be able to generate their own revenue and will invest in the demands of the people. The scheme will also prevent encroachment by identifying public land.
In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the designated time frame, it is very critical for India and other developing countries to institutionalize and modernize their land records system. The SVAMITVA scheme by the Government of India is the foundational step towards achieving this. It aims to mend and reimagine broken institutional arrangements. The scheme is anticipated to establish reliable land records, which has been long overdue in our country. This will go a long way towards constructing financial strength and independence of Gram Panchayats.