Land plays a vital role in urban and rural areas, often being the most valuable wealth that the ordinary person holds. In this context, it becomes imperative that landholders should have an authentic and tamper-proof record of land. The current land records management system borrows heavily from practices and laws framed during colonial India- albeit with small changes that depend on states. The result is close to two-thirds of all the pending cases in Indian courts are related to property disputes. Millions of state citizens cannot use their principal asset (property) as collateral to borrow from the formal financial system and unlock the potential that access to the formal financial system holds. Poor suffer the most.

Though the land records digitization program is in progress, certain aspects need a leapfrog jump, and modern technology adoption can help achieve this. Land records management is a state subject with various state departments working in silos churning out documents related to the same parcel of land. The entire process is complex, to say the least, and ends with the buyer having numerous documents that can be used to claim ownership, but none of them proving conclusive ownership.

The land transaction process happens in stages. Two of the most important steps being registration and mutation. Any attempt to provide the conclusive deed and inspiring confidence in the system's working requires creating a tamper-proof and robust interlink between mutation and registration.

There is a complex interplay of facts that need consideration here - Land is a valuable asset; thus, stakes are higher, registration and mutation process are riddled with complexities with no single document proving the ownership of land conclusively. Now, add to it the fact that prevalent land management practices do not leverage state of the art technology. This creates a perfect recipe for fraud. There also have been multiple instances of identity theft during these transactions.

We did extensive research into the land management systems in India, visiting various departments across multiple states, wherein we identified few common problems gripping India's land registration system. We feel obligated to underline them in the interest of people in general.

  • Even though any transaction on land must have thumbprints of involved parties, the identity of the parties is not digitally verified.
  • The registration process, which can be considered the bedrock of any land transaction process, is merely proof of transaction and not proof of ownership. Moreover, in some states, officers in charge are not authorized to stop a registration even with an evident lack of ownership.
  • Manual recordkeeping and incomplete digitization are a roadblock in the path of ensuring traceability of land flow from one person to another.
  • The land registration document is very long and uses highly technical language. As a result, later, parties often refute consenting to the terms of the agreement mentioned in the registry document. This leads to disputes.
  • Land-related documents are maintained by the various department that often works in silos. As a result, there is often a difference in the details about the ownership. Nomenclature followed among the departments is usually not standardized. On some occasions, it has been found that departmental documents do not depict ground realities correctly and do not paint a consistent picture among themselves.
  • There have been cases of insider attacks where land ownership details were illegally changed by the person having access to the system.
  • Scattered information about encumbrances over a property leads to a party buying a piece of land without complete knowledge about the encumbrances attached to it.

Our Solution

To overcome some of the problems highlighted in the previous section, we have developed a blockchain-based land records management system with the following capabilities:

  • Uses Blockchain to create a non-repudiable chain of transactions for the land, such as sale, addition/removal of encumbrances, recording power of attorneys, etc. Thus, creating a single source of truth and providing the complete picture of the land in one place.
  • Integrates with various KYC processes to issue smart cards to the public. Subsequently, the smart cards issued to the beneficiaries create irrefutable proof of identity and consent for a transaction.
  • Checks the land transaction history from the Blockchain and alerts the officer if the executant(s) does not have the required rights.
  • Brings various departments in sync with each other, enabling seamless integration of the Department of Revenue with the Department of Stamps and Registration.
  • The platform is modular and can be coupled with the existing software for registration and mutation in the state.

We aim to create a single source of truth of all the land records through this system, effectively reducing the number of fraudulent transactions and disputes.