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City Survey

F.G.H. Anderson in the introductory note in his Magnumopus “City Survey Manual” which was published way back in the year 1918 has said “There were Rules framed by the then Governments not only to survey the rural agricultural lands but also to survey the village sites and cities.”  “The Survey of India System of Cantonment Surveys was detailed in the Surveyor General’s Circulars”.  Unfortunately the Erstwhile Mysore province under the Rule of Maharajas neglected the City Survey and its importance was realized by the successive Governments in Karnataka and cities like Bangalore (as it existed in the year 1965-70), Mysore, Davanagere, K.G.F were surveyed.  Many more cities, towns require to be surveyed on priority basis, the proposals for which were sent to Government and they are under active consideration.

The spatial and non-spatial data of the urbanized areas of the State requires an important consideration.  While the spatial data and Record of Rights of Properties in the rural areas  is an important element in bringing about litigation free environment in rural areas, the Record of Rights and the spatial data of urban properties goes a long way in bringing a litigation free environment in the urban areas.  Though certain information regarding non-spatial data is available with Local Municipal Bodies. a comprehensive data matched with spatial data was felt to be very important though many cities, towns and even village sites were surveyed in the Ex-Bombay Presidency and Madras Presidency, it was not a priority in the Erstwhile Mysore State.  The importance of City Survey as envisaged by Anderson way back in 19th Century requires reconsideration in the present generation for the reasons that towns and cities are developing fast with the land values soaring and the civil disputes relating to lands are on the increase.

  • Broadly the significance of City Survey is categorized under  3 major heads i.e.

    Administrative, Fiscal and Legal.

From Administrative point of view, the utility of data made available through implementation of City Survey, in order to bring about efficiency in administration, to formulate policies and programs of the Government, both at the macro and micro levels, cannot be underestimated.  The spatial data so provided can be best utilized at the time of Elections, Census, by the department of Posts and Telegraphs, by the Railways, by Water supply and Sewage Boards and host of many other Developing Agencies and departments.  For orderly growth of the city, a base map of a city is a must


In a Fiscal sense, the City Survey helps in detecting un-authorized constructions and realizing huge sums of money by way of regularization. By detecting encroachment of Government properties, significant values of land are saved in favour of Government.  It helps Municipal Administration in their endeavor of collecting local taxes. Needless to say, the cost of survey itself is recovered in the form of Sannad fee. Unauthorized construction on agricultural lands can be detected and huge sums can be realized by the Government by way of conversion fines.  



Legal advantage of the spatial and non-spatial data collected by the system of the City Survey cannot be underestimated as the maps and information contained have evidential value in the Courts of Law and the documents have presumptive value.  It helps in defining and distinguishing good titles and eliminating the bad ones. 


The Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964 and Rules of 1966 – Chapters 13 and 12 respectively provide for the City Survey .

 It is but necessary for the Governments to take up City Surveys on priority basis.  A rupee saved by postponing this important work today means a huge burden on the Ex-chequer to implement this inevitable scheme in future.  The disaster in not taking up City Surveys cannot be quantifiable in terms of money.  But its adverse effect on socio-economic and legal system may be enormous and it will be irreparable loss. 


To sum up, to quote F.G.H. Anderson “With the continuous and frequently phenomenally rapid growth of land values, and with the growing intensity of municipal activity and town planning and all the other operations for which accurate detailed maps and continuous and unimpeachable records of title are required, the importance of such a system needs no vindication.”  

In Karnataka there are 48 towns and cities which have a system of town and city survey.  Many cities and towns have their beginning in the pre independence era, (the completion of city surveys in these towns are noted in the brackets in the list of city survey towns so appended).  City surveys of some cities and towns are also conducted during post independence period.  The important cities which are surveyed after enactment of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 and Rules framed there under in the year 1966, are Bangalore, Mysore, Gulbarga, K.G.F, Davanagere. 


The present Belgaum, Bijapur and Bagalkot districts, which were earlier under the Bombay presidency where the survey work got introduced way back in the year 1917, the Government felt as much its duty to conduct urban surveys as it felt to conduct rural surveys of agricultural properties. With the prime objective broadly said to be administrative, fiscal and legal, the records are prepared and these records continue to have utility even in the present day. Bellary city which was earlier a town under Madras presidency was surveyed during 1935 and 1942. Under the provisions of Madras survey and boundaries Act and Chapter XIII of Madras Survey Manual, Ward Maps and town survey field registers were prepared.  These are under maintenance now. 


Many of the records so prepared are becoming brittle since they are prepared in the paper form and are required to be preserved both for archival and retrieval purposes.  The city survey records can be broadly grouped into two categories 1) spatial data 2) Non spatial data.  Spatial data are the graphical maps and tippans prepared after detail Surveying and mapping of each property.  The maps are called Plain table sheets (since the survey work was conducted by Plain table method), local area maps and zonal maps, all in different scales.  These maps required to be digitized.


  The non-spatial data is the data available in the enquiry registers so prepared after detail enquiry conducted under the provisions of Rule 83 (1) of the Karnataka Land Revenue Rules, 1966.  The information contained in these registers is vital and form the basis for further preparation of final Record of Rights in Form 13 i.e. Property cards.  The information contained in these Property cards need to be updated as and when the change in the ownerships takes place due to sale, exchange, gift, inheritance etc.  Since enquiry registers are base registers they need to be scanned and preserved in electronic media.  The information contained in property cards need to be brought in electronic media through creation of digital records in a database management system.

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