“Land laws need to be simplified and systems need to be updated,” said Suhas S, IAS, Sub Collector, Revenue Divisional Officer, Fort Kochi. He was speaking at an interactive lecture by him organized by Kochi-based think tank the Centre for Public Policy Research, titled: Issues on Land Laws of Kerala.

Bangalore is attracting a lot of investment and is at the receiving end of several development projects because it has simplified its systems to ease business. Kerala, however, hasn’t been able to successfully do this, despite being a greener pasture, he added. “Even tourism is suffering, especially in a State driven by it,” he said.

Everything is at a standstill, no applications are being processed, and this is dangerous for an economy, especially like Kerala’s which has the added burden of being an “artificial economy,” he added.

“Kerala imports everything, it depends too much on its neighboring states,” he explained. “Business must be encouraged.”

Speaking on the recent issue of reclamation of wet lands and paddy fields, Suhas opined that efforts should be made by leveraging technology such as GPS and Google’s Maps to understand if and where land exists, irrespective of its nature, and if these are barren and unusable, efforts should be made to utilize them for development instead. Pressure groups and lobbies must emerge to steer policies on its correct course, he added. “Government should be held more accountable.” Having said that, when it comes to land, especially ecologically sensitive areas, efforts should be made to protect them, he said.

On the subject of land disputes: Buyers should pay more attention while investing in land and do the due diligence before they do, to protect themselves, he added.

He feels, going forward, we should aim for more governance and less government. …The government should only act as a regulator, it shouldn’t be a manufacturer. “What is it with the government here getting into producing computers and scooters?” he exclaimed.

PPP-model should be encouraged, government shouldn’t play the role of an implementer, he said. Given his thrust on leveraging technology, CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj inquired how the ministry was looking to modernize itself.

“When I came, there was only one computer, now all my officers have a laptop!” he said. We are slowly looking to digitize records too. It’s a difficult and long-drawn process, we’re unsure if we should attack the new ones first, or start from the beginning, because everything is related. We are steadily moving in that direction, he said.

It’s not big steps, but the small ones that matter. Small changes make big impact, he said.

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