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Land IDeas

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Land IDeas

Land IDeas
Dr. P. Gayatri
Senior Technical Director
gayatri[dot]p[at]nic[dot]in


Yet another ID?!
Yes, this time it is for a piece of Land!!
As humans we hold several IDs, a Citizen ID, Driver License ID, Voter ID, Bank Account Number and so on, issued by different agencies depending on the context.
Let us discuss a little about the need of an ID for land and several types of IDs that are in practice and a comparison of the IDs on a number of parameters.

Land Versus Human! Which is the entity that is more complex to keep track?!

Anyone would say, of course, it is complex to track a Human being because of the dynamism in the nature. A Human being is mobile, existence to be established due to birth / death, ages by time, identified by several parameters in the society such as Name, Lineage, Residence address, Social status, Education, Employment and so on. Hence, nations across the world have understood the need for a Digital ID for a human being to uniquely identify him / her as a citizen within a country.

Whereas, Land is immobile, always exists, doesn’t age, can always be identified by its geographical location. Despite these facts, the author holds the opinion that Land is quite dynamic, and it is tough to track the identity of a land parcel (especially for Governments) due to the transformations it can undergo. For instance, a vacant land can become cultivable, an agricultural land can be converted for non-agricultural purposes such as raising industry, building educational institute or residential property and so on. Of late, it is being felt to allot a unique ID for land parcels that can speak about Location, Ownership, Nature, Transformation, Permissions and several other aspects that are of interest to Governments and Citizens. Digital systems are coming up with different innovative ideas for allotting and maintaining Land IDs.

The blog here presents various ideas for allotting and maintaining Land ID, which the author came across due to her experience in the domain of Land Records in Governments across India.

The discussions and presentation aid in understanding the need for a Land ID, transformational nature of land and complexities involved in generating and maintenance of a Land ID.

The three types of Land IDs discussed are Traditional ID (Location code based), GIS based and Random number based.

i. Traditional (Location code based)

It is generated by a simple concatenation of several IDs, viz., District ID, Block Id, Village ID, Land Parcel Id (like survey number).

A sample ID is shown in Figure 1.

A simple algorithm is followed that generates a concatenated string like District ID + Block Id + Village ID + Land Parcel Id. Due to its simplicity in generation, it is easier to generate new IDs during transactions. Also, generation of IDs for legacy mutation transactions can be done with least efforts.

ii. GIS based

It is generated based on the GIS latitude-longitude points of all the corners along the boundaries of the land parcel. An algorithm takes input of these boundary values and comes up with an ID as illustrated in Figure 2:

Algorithm to generate an ID in this case is quite Complex. A well-proven algorithm should be used that generates a unique ID given the Lat-long points of along the boundaries of the land parcel. Generation of new IDs during prospective transactions is easier for agricultural lands. For retrospective transactions (i.e., to regularize legacy mutations) it is quite a challenging task to obtain the GIS coordinates for erstwhile land parcels.

Also, in urban areas, determining Land ID is quite complex, as the properties are very closely built and establishing GIS coordinates of all corners of the land boundaries is quite a task..

iii. Random Number based

A simple random number; Length of the ID can be fixed with a forecast on number of new Land IDs required over the next few decades. The illustration in Figure 3 gives a 11-digit ID with first two digits fixed for state code (36).

Algorithm to generate ID is quite simple; it would be a random number generator that holds least intelligence (Ex: UID). Generation of ID is easier for all land types in all cases of new IDs and also during regularizing legacy mutations.

Table-1 shows different types of Land IDs used in digital systems today and the comparisons among them categorized under different parameters.

Table-1: Land IDs: A comparison matrix


The Author hopes that the above discussion would help in bringing insights, challenges involved in generation / re-generation, maintenance etc of various types of Land IDs.
However, quite a few legacy IT applications seem to use a Land ID depending on the immediate need and availability of the pre-requisite parameters rather than opt for an ID that is holistic in nature, which can cater to both near term as well as long term needs.

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