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A Hidden Opportunity? How Land Reforms Open Doors for Business

 
Clear land titles mean more business for any state. Therefore, if any state aims at wooing investors, initiating land reforms and executing them effectively will ensure that businesses flourish & revenues keep coming in
 
While India climbed a phenomenal 30 spots to the 100th position out of 190 surveyed countries in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of doing Business’ index this year, investors have ample choice among Indian states. 
 
Investor perception is key, and each state wants to make sure that it is competitive. New research findings identify specific policies that would help gain an advantage. 
 
Nirupama Soundararajan and Shagun Khurana from Pahle India Foundation have looked at how business reforms can help Andhra Pradesh get ahead. 
 
Andhra Pradesh scored 99.73% on the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion’s ease-of-doing-business ranking. The re-searchers argue that Andhra Pradesh can make progress by further easing the process of land acquisition. Andhra Pradesh, under previous government of N. Chandrababu Naidu, has made it relatively easy to obtain land — something that is generally true of states with a high number of industrial parks. 
 
Clear land titling & digitisation of records needed
 
The researchers suggest that to streamline the land market further, the state government needs to move towards a conclusive land titling system. All records related to land — including record of rights, maps, and surveys — need to be digitised. 
 
So far, the state revenue department has completed survey activities under the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) for just 131 villages (0.75 per cent). It has digitized 57 per cent of existing maps (but has not updated any); all existing cadastral maps were prepared using traditional techniques. 
 
Because it lags behind in digitisation, Andhra Pradesh has an opportunity to start from scratch and do things properly. Ensuring clear property titles can go a long way in making the land market more transparent and efficient. 
 
Completion of survey and re-survey activities and digitisation of cadastral maps will have a total cost of about ₹213 crores. How-ever, this will have multiple benefits. Evidence shows that strengthening property rights reduces the risk of expropriation and corruption. It also improves the mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes and contract enforcement. 
 
Secure land titles mean more investor confidence
 
Perhaps most importantly, as land is more securely owned, it will be more advantageous for investors to spend money making land more productive, because owners are more likely to reap the benefits. This will all drive economic growth. 
 
Based on a raft of studies across the world showing how more secure property rights drive the economy, the researchers calculate this would mean a 0.024 percentage point boost to the growth rate of the economy of Andhra Pradesh — which may sound slight, but would equate to ₹10,900 crores, or benefits that are worth 51-times the costs. 
 
Ensuring that investors can buy and sell land with confidence is a winner. 

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