Can blockchain save land records?
India: The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to introduce blockchain based record keeping system in next six months to secure the land registries and revenue records . A major reason is that 67 percent of total 220 million people in State are dependable upon land to earn a living. The assigned department will reportedly submit its first technical proposal in few days to the State IT ministry and taking help from the Indian Institute of Technology .

Similarly, another States Andhra Pradesh is also working with private firms to secure land records in its new capital, Amaravati, using blockchain. Earlier this year United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said it had been working on a project to integrate blockchain technology into the land registry process in India (Panchkula, Haryana) as part of efforts to make it more reliable . The project used Ethereum blockchain with smart contracts- self executing contracts with the terms of agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of codes.

On national scale, the Union Government, policy think tank Niti Aayog has been working on building country largest blockchain network (IndiaChain) aiming to reduce fraud and building transparency in the system. IndiaChain will be linked to IndiaStack , a set of code developed around India’s unique identity project Aadhar.

Whilst, there is a big noise on benefit of this technology, there are many concerns which remain. An article published in Mint highlighted challenges in current land record systems in India . The one of important is how do we move from the current state of land records to a blockchain-secured state? To transition legacy records, we need to ensure that every aspect of these records must be indisputable to start with. While blockchain could ensure integrity and indisputability of future changes, it cannot resolve differences that exist today. What benefit would blockchain provide to a land whose area is not captured correctly, whose ownership is contested, whose liens are not fully recorded and whose value is underreported? Can we hope to build a sturdy structure on a shaky foundation? While a top-down approach of forcing blockchain on all land records could easily backfire, nudging selected participants to seek this transition using incentives could be the best way of leveraging this powerful technology. The apprehension was already addressed by State like Telangana which had already proposed to use blockchain technology in land deals after purifying its all land records.

On other hand, Brian Behlendorff, executive director at the Hyperledger project , a large blockchain development project, mentioned to the MIT Technology review in January 2017 that the land registry use case was the very reason he decided to start working with blockchains. In similar kind of application, in March 2017, The Swedish Mapping, Cadastre and Land Registration Authority, Lantmäteriet, Landshypotek Bank, SBAB, Telia, ChromaWay and Kairos Future study and test the possibilities of using blockchains as a technical solution for real estate transactions and the mortgage deed processes.

Blockchain technology provides the opportunity to solve many of these issues. For countries without a trustworthy real estate ownership record and land registry, a similar project may be the easiest, most cost efficient and fastest way to increase GDP in the medium term. In the long run, there is also great value if a solution can be developed and shared, or provide a framework and support for multiple government agencies where appropriate. Till then, we have to wait to see the result in Indian scenario...
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