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How blockchain could help make Indian land records more reliable

How blockchain could help make Indian land records more reliable
Shah Junaid/VCCircle

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been working a project to integrate blockchain technology into the land registry process in India as part of efforts to make it more reliable. 

The collaboration project, for which UNDP has tied up with a couple of blockchain organisations, seeks to build a land registry using blockchain technology for the city of Panchkula in Haryana.

"We believe it (blockchain) will have a huge impact in the developing world, helping uplift the poor and marginalised, aid in fighting corruption…and so much more,” Alexandru Oprunenco, policy and innovation specialist at UNDP and, Chami Akmeemana, chief executive of the US-based Blockscale Solutions and Blockchain Learning Group, wrote in a blog post.

The duo cited the example of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and its aftermath, when it was difficult to identify land owners, adding that several cities across the developing world suffer similar problems.

"Many citizens simply don’t have confidence in the system. Some are unsure if they legally own a piece of land, even if they have a legitimate sale deed. Others who want to buy a piece of land are not sure if the seller legally owns it," Akmeemana and Oprunenco wrote, adding that blockchain offered a potential solution.

The  project, which is in the proof-of-concept stage, is using Ethereum blockchain with smart contracts - self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code.

"This will create a single source of truth of ownership status, and history of a property. The buyer will be assured that the land being bought is the correct plot, and that the seller is unequivocally the owner, reducing the potential for disputes, as well as the costs and time involved, for any given transaction," they explained.

The chain will capture and record all transactions throughout the process of a sale and purchase. 

"For example, envision two citizens in the state of Haryana — a buyer and seller — who have negotiated the sale of a house and wish to now register their sale deed with the local authorities. They would proceed to the government services offices as they normally would to register the sale deed, which they have in their possession," they wrote, adding that the government office then keys in the information into a system powered by blockchain.

This blockchain-enhanced system then takes over and registers the sale deed in the presence of the buyer and seller. "It will also process the sign-offs by both the buyer and seller and push the transaction to the approval stage. After the transaction is approved, an automatic transfer of ownership is completed," the duo explained.

The proof-of-concept will be presented to the local government in Haryana for final endorsement before being implemented at scale.

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