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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 25 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 25 April 2023


Contents

  1. Digitising Registration in India’s Land Records
  2. Planning groundwater sensor network for quality, contamination monitoring

Digitising Registration in India’s Land Records


Context:

 Enabling remote online document registration would significantly help Digital India achieve its main goals.

Relevance:

GS paper-3: Land reforms in India: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Mains Question

What are the benefits of digitising the land registration procedure in India, and what actions are necessary to ensure a reliable and effective system for secure land rights and real estate investment? (150 words).


Highlights

  • Through the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP), which aims to create an integrated land management system, India has actively taken steps in recent years to modernise its land records.
  • The Bhu-Aadhaar or Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) project, one of the initiatives under this programme, assigns a 14-digit alpha-numeric identifier to land parcels based on their geo-coordinates.
  • Despite these efforts, the government has yet to address the antiquated procedure of document registration, which is still governed by a colonial-era law passed in 1908. o It has the potential to bring transparency in land dealings and reduce the significant backlog of court cases involving land disputes.

Problems with the Current Registration Procedure

  • The Registration Act of 1908 in India mandates that the majority of property documents be registered.
    • The registration procedure in India still uses the archaic physical mode of registration, despite being a necessary formality for legal documentation.
  • Parties to a transaction must physically appear at the sub-registrar’s office during the registration process in order to obtain registration certificates, submit physical copies of supporting documentation, and use physical fingerprints and photographs.
  • As a result, registering documents at the sub-registrar’s office requires a lot of time; it frequently takes two days or longer to simply show up and submit the documents. To get to the closest registration office, parties frequently have to travel a great distance.

Modernization Is Required

  • India needs to modernise its registration procedure in order to take full advantage of technological advancements and promote ease of living and conducting business.
  • Although a lot of business and real estate documents can be completed electronically, the current manual registration process is slow and inefficient.
  • Even in situations where electronic registration is permitted, parties may still be required to appear in person with the necessary documents.
  • Some state governments have made attempts to introduce electronic registration by amending specific provisions of the Registration Act, but there is no consistent approach nationwide.

Changes to the Registration Act That Are Required for the Digital Transformation

  • It is essential to amend the Registration Act in order to establish consistent online registration procedures across the nation.
  • In addition, there should be online exchanges of questions/comments between parties and registrars, and registrars should be permitted to issue electronic registration certificates while maintaining a digital backup of such records.
  • This should include provisions for online submission of documents, remote appearance of parties and witnesses, and electronic verification of parties through biometric authentication modes and live photo captures.

Maintaining Consistency

  • Since the Constitution gives state governments the authority to amend state laws regarding registration, the central Act must establish minimum requirements for remote online registration in order to guarantee that registration is carried out safely and securely throughout India.
  • To accomplish this, a new provision that establishes standards for identity authentication methods, security and storage, and an electronic record format should be introduced.By establishing this fundamental framework, registration offices will be able to standardise their data and procedures, which will make it easier to create a national land registry.

Putting Digital Transformation into Practise

  • In light of the country’s widening digital divide, it’s critical that the government create a transition plan for enacting reforms that move towards online registration while taking the degree of digitization in each state into consideration.
  • The state governments should be given a deadline in this plan to guarantee that registration offices have the necessary infrastructure to support remote online registration. Physical registration facilities should continue to be accessible until then.

Digital Transformation’s Advantages

  • A fundamental legal requirement is that documents be registered. Modernising this procedure will be a major step towards the paperless, presence-free services that Digital India envisions.
  • This change will speed up the registration process and make it more easily accessible, all while cutting down on the time and expenses involved. Land disputes can be reduced by streamlining the land ownership process.
  • The digitization of land records will improve land use management by making it easier to identify land that is available for development and to monitor the land’s ecological stability.

Conclusion

  • The digitalization of the land registration process is essential for modernising the management of land records in India.
    • To ensure transparency, protect land rights, and encourage investment in the real estate market, a strong, effective, and modernised land registration system is required.
  • Provisions for online registration, remote verification and certification, a uniform framework for electronic records, as well as standardisation of data and procedures, should be included in the necessary amendments to the Registration Act.The Indian people will gain a lot from this switch from paper-based to digital registration, which will also contribute to the realisation of the Digital India vision.

Planning Groundwater Sensor Network For Quality, Contamination Monitoring


Context

  • The Jal Shakti Ministry is developing a plan to install a massive network of groundwater sensors that will continuously monitor the quality and levels of contamination in India’s groundwater.
  • The National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) will have access to the sensors and be able to monitor information relayed down to the taluk level by them.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Mains Question

“India is one of the countries with the highest rates of groundwater depletion in the world.” Discuss the Jal Shakti Ministry’s plan to set up a substantial network of groundwater sensors in light of this, as well as any advantages it may have for ensuring sustainable groundwater management. (250 Words)


Current Monitoring System and its Limitations:

  • The Central Groundwater Board presently relies on a network of about 26,000 groundwater observation wells that require manual measurement by technicians a few times a year.
  • As it only offers a snapshot of the groundwater levels and quality at a specific moment, this system has limitations.

Digital Water Level Recorders:

  • As part of the new initiative, approximately 16,000–17,000 digital water level recorders will be linked to the piezometers in the wells.
  • Recorders digitally transmit the data that piezometers use to measure groundwater levels.
  • In the following three years, the Central Ground Water Authority, which was established under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, plans to expand its network from the current 26,000 to about 40,000.
  • India will have approximately 67,000 digitally recordable units to monitor groundwater dynamics once they are combined with similar networks owned by other institutions, such as State bodies, agriculture, and meteorology departments.
  • The network will offer high-resolution data and make groundwater visible in a similar way to how air quality and meteorological variables like air pressure, moisture, and precipitation are now.

Groundwater Extraction and Contamination in India:

  • According to reports, groundwater is used for domestic and drinking needs in 85% of India’s rural areas. In cities with a population of more than 10 lakh, 40% of monitored wells have seen their water levels either remain stable or decrease.
  • With the exception of nitrate contamination, which is a result of the use of nitrogenous fertilisers, groundwater contamination in India is primarily “geogenic” (natural) and hasn’t changed significantly over time.
  • Parts of 209 districts have been noted to have arsenic contamination, and sections of nearly 409 districts have been confirmed to have fluoride contamination.
  • The new initiative will provide ongoing information on groundwater levels, which will be useful in predicting future levels, estimating extraction potential, and figuring out recharge potential.

Potential Benefits of the Groundwater Sensor Network:

  • Continuous Monitoring of Groundwater Levels.
  • Better groundwater management strategies: o Decision-makers can make more informed decisions about groundwater management strategies when there is constant and current information available on groundwater levels and quality.
    • The Jal Shakti Ministry can offer updated advisories that may affect state policies regarding groundwater extraction.
    • The Jal Shakti Ministry aims to provide farmers with groundwater forecasts that would be helpful for sowing and updated advisories that can influence groundwater extraction policies by States.
  • The majority of this information will be available to the general public, with the exception of water flow data that is governed by international treaties.
    • Farmers would gain from continuous monitoring of groundwater quality, which would also help policymakers make choices that can help preserve and replenish groundwater resources.
  • A better comprehension of groundwater dynamics: o Ongoing groundwater level monitoring can aid in our understanding of the intricate dynamics of groundwater and the variables that affect it, including changes in land use, climate, and potential for recharge.
  • Public access to groundwater data: o Just like air quality and meteorological variables, groundwater can become visible if it is available in a centralised network like the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC).
  • The majority of this information will be available to the general public, with the exception of water flow data that is governed by international treaties.
  • Determining areas that are contaminated: Constantly checking the quality of the groundwater can help locate contamination sources, evaluate the success of pollution mitigation efforts, and monitor the development of remediation programmes.
    • States will monitor those areas and States more closely for potential groundwater contamination, such as coastal salinity or excessive depletion.
    • Regularly checking the quality of the groundwater can assist in taking the corrective measures.

Conclusion:

  • The Jal Shakti Ministry’s initiative to set up a network that will continuously measure groundwater quality is a significant step towards water conservation and management in India.
  • India has made significant progress towards sustainable groundwater management with the implementation of this extensive network of groundwater sensors.

June 2024
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