It has been around 40 days since Vishwanath Mujumale (58) became one of the first five farmers in India to be given property cards under the SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme.
Mujumale, a resident of Kondanpur village (where a majority of residents go by the same surname), located in Pune district’s Haveli taluka, recalls fondly how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had complimented him for getting his sanad (deed) framed just in time for the scheme’s virtual launch on October 11.
The SVAMITVA scheme aims to generate property cards to facilitate monetisation of rural residential assets for credit and other financial services. Led by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, it aims at surveying rural inhabited land parcels using drones, and involving gram panchayats to cover India’s 6.62 lakh villages in four years. In Maharashtra, an average of 25 villages are being surveyed in Pune, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Nagpur districts each.
By the end of this month, villages in Thane, Nashik, Akola, Nanded and Wardha will also be covered, said Settlement Commissioner S Chockalingam. While four drones are being used currently, five more will be added to expedite the process.
Varsha Mujumale (33), who works at the gram panchayat office, is also set to receive a property card in the coming days. She said her reason for applying was to avoid land disputes among neighbours, and that the card could prove to be useful as a legal document.
Rajendra Gole, Pune district superintendent of land records, said, “This is the first time that even the roads have been mapped. Not a single piece of land will be left unnumbered. Based on data generated through city surveys, it will be easy for government departments to allot land for creation of new public amenities such has primary health care centres and recreation centres, among other things. It will save land from encroachment and enhance tax collection.”
After the city survey, 24 open government lands have been identified and marked in Kondanpur alone. Villagers have been quick to come up with ideas on what they can be developed for — these include opening an English medium school, playground, gym, and an indoor stadium.
Vikas Mujumale, a wrestling champion from the village, who now teaches sports and economics in a Pune college, said, “Children from our village barely reach the district level, as they are made to practice two days before the event at the grounds in the city. I was forced to shift to Pune for practicing wrestling. For more sportspersons to emerge from our village, we need an open playground and sports instructor.”
Chockalingam said that with property cards, recognition of rights will be instant, and people should be able to avail loans. “Property cards are just regular cards that have been given in the state for the last forty years. This scheme is just to expedite the process. There is no reason why banks should not give loans based on these cards. However, if there is any confusion, we will issue a clarification,” he said.
He added, “The potential of this project to improve village economy will need to be studied over a period. In our discussions with the Rural Development Department, we have suggested implementing a type-based plan, which would mean reserving certain plots for public amenities based on the size of the population and available infrastructure. Some land would also need to be reserved keeping in mind expansion of households in the coming years. The planning part of the project, in terms of deciding on the policy on these issues, is to be worked upon.”
During his interaction with the PM, Mujumale had requested that extending the benefit of property cards be considered for those settled outside village limits, in an extended gaothan (open government land) area. While the PM had publicly agreed to inform the state government about Mujumale’s request, officials from the department have said this possibility is yet to be explored.
Over the next two and a half years, all 42,000 villages in Maharashtra can be covered using drone technology — this would have taken forty years otherwise, Chockalingam said. A major challenge in pursuing this pace is the shortage of inquiry officers.
“We have proposed the creation of 422 temporary posts for the state government’s active consideration. While drones can easily take images, officers are required to carry out the protocol of issuing timely notices to villages and resolving objections, among other things,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mujumale said he had been trying to avail a Rs 10 lakh loan since March, but had not made any progress in the absence of documents required. “I have been told that now, this won’t be an issue,” he said. He, along with the other villagers, are hopeful this scheme will bring them security.
However, Mujumale has tried to initiate the process using his property card at the nearest Bank of Baroda branch in Khanakpur, but a breakthrough remains elusive. “I’ve made at least four trips to the bank, but each time I’m told they are yet to receive RBI instructions on the acceptance of the property card,” he said.
He requires the loan for the renovation of his 200 sq-ft restaurant, Hotel Kondaneshwar, situated atop an isolated cliff in the premises of the historic Sinhagad Fort. His village is popular among tourists for being the closest to the fort, which has been the site for many battles, particularly the 1670 Battle of Sinhagad.
Several others from his village have also applied for the card, but are yet to get one. While property card distribution events have taken place in some villages, Mujumale’s village is waiting for its turn.
While residents of Kondanpur, have availed funds through various cooperative societies in the past, this could be the first time a person from the village will avail a loan from a nationalised bank, Mujumale says. In a few days, nearly 140 private property cards will be distributed to the rest of the villagers via a public event. People of Kondanpur are yet to figure the various ways in which their cards could be put to use, but are looking at it as a safety net.
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