Last year, Tharigopula Sambasiva Rao entered into a deal with the state government of Andhra Pradesh. He gave up six acres of his agricultural land in his village, Sakhamuru, in exchange for 7,250 square yards—6,000 square yards of residential plots and 1,250 square yards of commercial ones.

In February this year, the 50-year-old farmer got his plots registered at the sub-registrar’s office in Thullur town of Guntur district. He booked an appointment through a government-run app and turned up with his Aadhaar number, a unique identity provided by the government of India to every citizen.

Rao’s land documents, complete with a map, certificate, and carrying a unique QR code, were prepared by officials and sent directly to the registration office, all done in just a couple of hours. Kommineni Ramanjaneyulu, another farmer from around Thullur, exchanged 4.5 acres for 10 plots. The 83-year-old was wary of this new technology deployed to streamline the land registration process.

However, he was relieved to see the documents for his new assets in his native language, Telugu. There was no information gap.

Rao and Ramanjaneyulu are among over 24,000 farmers from 22 villages in Guntur who have bartered their assets to the government. Because the newly formed southern Indian state is in the process of gathering 217 square kilometres—over 53,000 acres—of farmland to build Amaravati, its capital city. Read more from…

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