Geographic Information System (GIS) is becoming a craze every day and is catching the fancy of individuals and organizations. Every Software Company, worth the name, is interested to enter into GIS business without understanding the geometry of GIS. On the other hand, there are Organizations, mostly in the Government Sector who are interested to implement GIS in their operations, again without knowing, what they want. It is a very strange matrix of relationship developing in the country between the service provider and the client.
Land Information System (LIS) which is a subset of GIS, is another area arousing interest of the industry whether there is any real client or the so called client is interested in their services. LIS is definitely much different than GIS as it needs political will to implement. The major difference between GIS and LIS is that LIS provides database on ownership of parcels of land in addition to other information which in the traditional system is called Land Records. It consists of the particulars of every parcel of land in each village, its dimensions, classification, assessment and reputed ownership.
The current scene in the country about land records is quite different as they are not being updated regularly particularly the Cadastral Maps. This job is supposed to be carried out by Settlement Commissioner cum Director of Land Records in the States. He has Regional Superintendents of Land Records who in tun control the District Inspectors of Land Records. These Survey & Settlement Operations in most of the States are being carried out based on out-dated Manuals which have not been revised taking into account the state-of-art technology and the changing needs of the society. Field work is carried out by Survey Mamlatdars assisted by Surveyors. These survey operations are undertaken based on local control only and the techniques used are most time consuming and are not linked to the national control network.
The backbone of LIS is Cadastral Maps which have to be updated by undertaking regular surveying operations to capture the ground realities with regards to fragmentation of parcels or consolidation of boundaries. The word Cadastre is from the Latin language which refers to the registry of lands. The Cadastral System has to be properly documented, which has been the practice set by Britishers in this country. The only problem has been its regular updating which has resulted in failure of Cadastral System in protecting the land rights and permitting those rights to be traded. Cadastral Surveying is a discipline which deals with large scale surveying of parcels of land and preparation of Cadastres, to serve as public register of the lands for fiscal purposes in addition to establishing the ownership rights. Implementation of LIS therefore is not a simple matter as it involves legal, political and technical issues. There is therefore a need to resolve these three most important issues before commercial issue can be taken up for discussions.
It is an admitted fact that land records in terms of Records-of-Rights have not been properly kept. The current statute law in force does not progress to provide for a state certification of Title-to-Land under the aegis of a public authority. No doubt, regarding agricultural land, the Records-of-Rights in land create a structure of permanent records of transactions concerning such land, but it is only in theory.
The Indian Registration Act, 1908 provides for registration of documents but not for the registration of titles. No doubt, regarding agricultural land, the Records-of-Rights in land and similar documents, by virtue of provisions in the land-laws of various states, create a structure, at least in theory of permanent records of transactions concerning such land. During the colonial period these records were used by the Britishers mainly for the purpose of revenue collection. It was such powerful instrument that an extract of this record was an enough proof of an individual's title to the land. But now the entries in such records are not conclusive even though they may be relevant in a court of law and may be given a presumptive status by land-laws. As late as August, 1989, it had been affirmed by the Supreme Court of India as follows -
"It is firmly established that the revenue
Records are not documents of title"
The magnitude and complexity of this problem as it exists in India today was prevailing almost all over the world at one time or the other. It has been the work of few well meaning thinkers who designed systems, which provides for registration of title to land. This has now been introduced in many countries. A time has come when greater importance has to be given to these aspects as pressure on land is increasing every day. Modern Technology and economic considerations strongly support this approach.