SVAMITVA – A scheme to transform rural India

Till today more than 60% of India’s 1.35 billion population lines in 700,000 odd villages of India.

SVAMITVA scheme launched under the aegis of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) intending to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India. SVAMITVA is an acronym for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.

This is a central government scheme in partnership with the state governments. The Prime Minister of India inaugurated the project by distributing physical property card on 11th October and calling it as a ‘historic move’ set to transform rural India.

This is the first such initiative towards integrated property validation solution for rural India. Drone Surveying technology will be used to demarcate rural Abadi (populated) areas. 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 economic benefits from banks. The scheme focuses on mapping rural-inhabited lands using drones, as land records are inaccurate or do not exist for vast areas across India. Even though 60 per cent of the country lives in rural areas, villagers do not have ownership documents of their homes.

The scheme will help the villagers to use their property as collateral for taking loans and other economic benefits.

The stated objectives of the scheme are: –

  1. 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.
  2. Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
  3. Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
  4. Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
  5. To support in the preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
  6. To reduce property related disputes and legal cases.

This is the first time that a large-scale exercise involving modern technology is being carried out to benefit millions of rural property owners. This reform has far-reaching consequences in that it will help India’s rural-dwellers accurately demarcate and lay claim to their rightful land. According to a 2017 Reserve Bank of India report, land and property accounted for 77 per cent of Indian households’ wealth. Still, in the absence of accurate records, economists have often referred to this property as ‘dead capital’. 

The provision of authorised and valid property cards will also vastly increase the resilience of Gram Panchayats. In the future, Gram Panchayats, by benefitting from a formalised and transparent rural property market, will be able to generate their tax revenues, towards investing more significant sums into their communities. Poor record-keeping has consistently been deemed one of the chief reasons why Gram Panchayats have struggled to do this in the past.

Legitimising the claims of India’s rural population over their land and property will go a long way towards cooling tensions that often have their basis in social power structures. Via a formalised grievance redressal system, the most vulnerable sections of Indian society – tribal communities, Dalits, women and tenant farmers – are likely to benefit the most from the implementation of the SVAMITVA scheme.

The scheme will help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas and ensuring clarity on property rights. The project will enable the creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans using the maps created under this programme.


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