A DRASTIC OVERHAUL
India Today|September 21, 2020
A DRASTIC OVERHAUL
On September 7, the Tela­ngana government annou­nced a suspension of land registration services in the state, with immediate effect.
Amarnath K. Menon

Nearly four decades after then chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, N.T. Rama Rao, abolished the Patel-patwari system in grass­ roots administration, chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao is implementing a new, equally comprehensive structural change in the administration of land ownership. Among other major chang­ es, the new system abolishes the posts of a village revenue officer (VRO) and vil­lage revenue assistant (VRA). With this, about 4,800 VROs and 21,000 VRAs will cease to play a role in the manage­ment of land records in villages. While suspending registration services, the government also instructed VROs and VRAs to hand over all land records to the offices of district collectors for safekeeping until the new system is in place. These documents are to be main­tained at the mandal (village cluster) level, under the custody of tehsildars.

The legislation for this reform— both to abolish VRAs/VROs and to streamline the functioning of land registration—is to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session of the state legislature. As part of the reform, the state plans to empower tehsildars to register agricultural land mutations (changes in ownership), while the department of stamps and registra­tions will only register buildings and non­agricultural land in urban areas. To ensure that pending land disputes are dealt with quickly and to rein in the tehsildars, the government is scrapp­ ing the revenue courts they hold and constituting revenue tribunals at the district level headed by retired judges. The government also plans to integrate land registration records with rev­enue records via Dharani, its online land records portal. Until this is done, all land registrations in the state will remain suspended. After this is imple­mented, property buyers will not have to apply for land mutations in village records—this will be initiated automati­cally by the tehsildars when they receive information about a property sale.

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September 21, 2020