A Comprehensive Guide To The Bim Saviya Certificate & Programme

1. Overview

1998, inspired by a foreign land registry system, the island nation of Sri Lanka introduced a law in land management. The new initiative known as the Bim Saviya certificate, or the title deed or also called the Land Title Registration Act aimed to elevate the country’s land management practices to certain global standards.

Land is a limited and valuable resource. And one of the issues in Sri Lanka was the challenge landowners faced due to unresolved disputes and absence of land plans. This Bim Saviya Programme established, aimed to rectify these issues and help realise the potential value of lands across the nation.

Through a detailed exploration of the Bim Saviya Programme in this article, we will delve into its significance, implications, controversies, and potential impacts on landowners and the nation’s land management landscape, and draw a picture for readers on how the programme works.

What is here?

  1. Overview
  2. Bim Saviya – A groundbreaking approach
  3. Understanding the traditional deed
  4. An overview of the programme’s need and importance
  5. The implementation and the process
  6. The role of technology in Bim Saviya
  7. Challenges and criticisms
  8. Assessing the effectiveness of the Bim Saviya Programme
  9. Moving forward
  10. Conclusion

2. Bim Saviya – A groundbreaking approach

The Bim Saviya Programme represents a significant breakthrough in land title registrations in Sri Lanka. This aims in providing globally recognized Land Title Certificates for the land ownership. This system operates on the well-known Torrens system principles, which is extensively used in Australia to ensure the ‘indefeasibility’ of the registered titles, providing the property owners with increased security.

This Act was passed on 17th March 1998, following a study tour to Western Australia by the following government officials.

  • Surveyors Institute of Sri Lanka (two participants)
  • Surveyor General’s Department (three representatives)
  • Registrar General’s Department (two representatives)
  • Legal Draftsman’s Department (two representatives)
  • The Land Commissioner
  • The Commissioner of Land Settlement
  • The Deputy Chief Value
  • The Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Lands

It was later implemented under the Act No. 21 of 1998, addressing the essential issue of land management in Sri Lanka where land is both limited and valuable. The Bim Saviya Programme encompasses of land surveying, plan preparation, and a thorough verification of ownership spanning over the last 30 years of the subjected lands.

By aligning the local land management practices with global standards the Bim Saviya can assist Sri Lanka to boost the country’s credibility as an investment-friendly destination, attracting foreign investments and eventually boost economic growth. Positioned as a catalyst for transforming land management, the programme signifies Sri Lanka’s commitment to technological, economic, and social progression, akin to advancements seen in other vital sectors such as education, health, transportation, and communication.

2.1. The organizational structure

The Bim Saviya programme operates within a structured organizational framework involving several key government departments across Sri Lanka. Below is the overview of the organizational chart:

2.2. Regional offices

In addition to its central organizational structure the Bimsaviya Programme established several regional offices strategically located across Sri Lanka. These offices play a crucial role in the successful implementation of the programme in facilitating land surveys, preparing plan, verifying land and so on.

The main office of Bimsaviya is located at No: 1200/6, Mihikatha Medura, Rajamalwatta Road, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. In addition to this, Bimsaviya operates 49 offices spread across 19 districts throughout the island, ensuring comprehensive coverage and accessibility to landowners.

Districts with Bimsaviya Offices:

  1. Anuradhapura
    • Thabuttegama: 025-2275168
    • Ne. Nu.Pa.: 025-2223677
  2. Badulla
    • Harispattuwa: 081-2500413
  3. Batticalao
    • Batticaloa: 0652058626
  4. Colombo
    • Homagama: 011-2892179
    • Moratuwa: 011-2642426
    • Ratmalana: 011-2625488
    • Kesbewa: 011-2620495
  5. Galle
    • Galle: 091-2230683
  6. Gampaha
    • Mirigama: 033-2273200
    • Minuwangoda: 011-2281934
    • Aththanagalla: 033-2290784
    • Mahara: 011-2929861
    • Katana: 031-2238199
    • Dompe: 011-2403367
    • Gampaha: 033-2238492
  7. Hambantota
    • Tissamaharama: 047-2239642
    • Beliatta: 047-2251404
  8. Jaffna
    • Nallur: 021-2052225
  9. Kalutara
    • Panadura: 038-2235839
    • Kalutara: 034-2237181
  10. Kandy
    • Doluwa: 081-2354350
    • Udunuwara: 081-2310545
    • Gangawata Koralaya: 081-2232898
    • Harispattuwa: 081-2500413
    • Yatinuwara: 081-2057722
  11. Kegalle
    • Galigamuwa: 035-2229996
  12. Kurunegala
    • Ridigama: 037-2251561
    • Pannala: 037-2245103
    • Mallawapitiya: 037-2220357
    • Kurunegala: 037-2230934
    • Wariyapola: 037-2057770
  13. Matale
    • Dambulla: 066-2284422
    • Galewela: 066-2288014
  14. Matara
    • Weligama: 041-2253280
    • Matara: 041-2231071
    • Hakmana: 041-2286699
  15. Moneragala
    • Monaragala: 055-2277023
  16. Nuwera Eliya
    • Kothamale: 052-2259826
  17. Polannaruwa
    • Hingurakgoda: 027-2245622
  18. Puttalam
    • Nattandiya: 032-2252317
    • Puttalam: 032-2267120
  19. Ratnapura
    • Balangoda: 045-2287030
    • Ratnapura: 045-2224635
    • Kuruwita: 045-2261871
    • Nivithigala: 045-2224635
    • Weligepola: 045-2227115

3. Understanding the traditional deed

Traditionally the land registration in Sri Lanka is operated under the Documentary Ordinance No. 08 of 1863, which primarily focused solely on land transactions without registering the landowner’s title. This method’s limitations extended to the inability to accurately certify land extent and boundaries described in deeds. As a result of this several fraudulent practices started to arise, such as registering multiple deeds for the same land and creating counterfeit deeds.

These flaws paved the way for a more comprehensive and reliable land registration system to guarantee the transparency, accuracy, and security in land transactions. Therefore the government promoted the Bim Saviya Programme as a progressive solution which aimed at modernizing land registration practices and safeguarding landowners’ rights through reliable and credible title registration.

4. An overview of the programme’s need and importance

The need for the programme grew from the existing challenges faced by the land owners in Sri Lanka. As the significant number of land owners faced difficulties in utilizing their own land due to the disputes occurred over the land deeds and lack of proper plans. The Bim Saviya Programme aimed to resolves such disputes and issues and giving the real value to the lands. Apart from that below are the few points further illustrating the importance of the programme:

Do you feel like you now understand what Bim Saviya is?
  • Land value: Land is a valuable and significant resource used in human activity and economic development. However utilisation of this resource can be ruined by disputes and lack of clear ownership.
  • Essential land title registration: A reliable land registration/ownership system is essential in resolving the disputes hindering land utilization and socio-economic development of that land.
  • Confidence and security: Title registration instills added confidence and security in landowners, enabling them to utilize their land more productively.
  • Combating fraudulent activities: Proper registration helps prevent fraudulent activities like multiple deeds or bogus registrations, ensuring transparency and legality in land transactions.
  • Accurate location information: The accurate information of the location of the land is confirmed by the title certificate.
  • Simplified plan acquisition: As the Survey Department is responsible for the plan, re-obtaining copies of plans is not necessary.
  • Ease of transactions: Seeking legal advice may not be necessary when selling or purchasing land with a title certificate, making transactions easier.
  • Recognition of title certificates: Title certificates acquire more recognition than deeds, enhancing their value in transactions.

5. The implementation and process

The Bim Saviya Programme streamlines the land ownership with enhanced transparency while providing secure and legally recognized titles. As of 2023, the latest update, approximately around nine hundred thousand (900,000 or 9 lakhs) title certifications had been issued to the landowners. Below is the process chart of how it is done.

The first step in effectively executing the Bim Saviya Programme in Sri Lanka is notifying landowners at the Grama Niladhari Divisional level and encouraging their involvement in an awareness campaign. Land surveys are then carried out by the departmental investigation officers, survey officers, in the presence of landowners. After these meticulous processes the title certificates will be issued.

Each and every step from individual land parcel is visited by government officials to title registration, contributes to the programme’s efficiency. The Bim Saviya Programme commit in striving towards modernizing land management practices nationwide despite the challenges such as time and cost persist.

6. The role of technology in Bim Saviya

The integration of technology in the Bim Saviya Programme marks a notable transformation in Sri Lanka’s land management practices.

In the Title Certificate issued after processing the ownership of the land. The landowners can use the unique identification numbers assigned to land subjected parcels to digitally authenticate their ownership for the plot. As the system is implemented via a digital platform, it facilitate land title registration, preventing fraudulent practices and making it easier to transfer ownership.

This technological integration with the programme, enhances the efficiency and transparency in land management, ensuring a smoother experience for landowners and stakeholders alike.

7. Challenges and criticisms

Despite its numerous advantages, the Bim Saviya Programme has encountered criticism and obstacles.

  • Critics question the programme’s reliance on the Torrens Law, especially its inability to handle various ownership scenarios and shared rights under personal laws. (Multiple ownership scenarios.)
  • Disregarding of indigenous laws preceding colonial occupation, which stirred controversy over the programme’s oversight of centuries-old land governance.
  • The government expenditure of a large sum of money to assist the relevant department throughout the process.

7.1. Controversies surrounding the Bim Saviya

Although the Bim Saviya Programme has its advantages, it has generated debate and criticism. With some critics arguing that the programme which is based on the Australian Torrens Title Registration System is not appropriate for Sri Lanka due to the existence of unique history and community heritage.

7.2. The programme’s impact

The Bim Saviya had a varied effect on the landowners. Although some of them have benefited from the programme’s clarity, others have faced issues due to its strict requirements for issuing titles, particularly for the state owned land which raised concerns about the potential privatization. Amidst the challenges faced by this programme, it still held the promise in the potentiality in settling the land disputes and providing landowners with recognised land titles. This move is significant as it continues to address land related issues, unlocking the more potential of Sri Lankan lands, and contributing to socio-economic development in the country.

7.3. Allegations of land fraud

The Bim Saviya Programme has also been linked to allegations of land fraud throughout the years. Certain critics argue that because the programme does not sufficiently check the legitimacy of the land deeds, it has unintentionally enabled land fraud. However, advocates of the programme claim that these problems are solvable with improved implementation and more strict oversight.

8. Assessing the effectiveness of the Bim Saviya Programme

The effectiveness of the Bim Saviya Programme shouldn’t be overlooked solely due to the controversies surrounding it. This programme has managed to successfully register a significant number of land plots in Sri Lanka. However, it’s also important to keep in our mind that the process is extremely time-consuming, costly, and a large number of land parcels are yet to be registered.

8.1. Economic impact

The Bim Saviya Programme has a significant economic impact on Sri Lanka. However, questions have been raised about the cost-effectiveness of the programme. Critics argue that the programme has been an economic burden on the government due to the extremely high costs associated with the implementation process from the beginning to the end.

8.2. Future of the Programme

The Bim Saviya Programme is a driving force for growth and development allowing landowners to understand the potential for their land. Through the transparent titles and delineation of boundaries, the Bim Saviya constructs a foundation for the inflow of both domestic and international investments. The innovative program still holds a critical juncture trying to balance between progress and uncertainty in Sri Lanka’s land management landscape. Although a significant amount of success has been achieved, the journey towards comprehensive success remains a challenge.

Further, the Bim Saviya Programme reflects Sri Lanka’s commitment in modernizing it’s land management methodologies, demonstrating the country’s openness for future opportunities and challenges. This signifies the effort towards ensuring efficient utilization of land resources while strengthening the economic growth and social progress in sustainable development.

9. Moving forward

The Bim Saviya Programme marks a significant transformation in how land titles are registered in Sri Lanka in a simpler and efficient system. Despite criticism and various challenges, the programme still offers a promising path towards improved land management practices.

To ensure the successful implementation of the Bim Saviya Programme, it’s imperative to address the criticisms constructively and enact necessary amendments. This includes better provisioning for various ownership scenarios, such as shared rights under personal laws, making the registration process more financially accessible, etc.

Moreover, raising awareness among the general public and landowners about the Bim Saviya Programme is important. Educating them about the programme’s advantages will not only provide a basic understanding but also encourage them to actively participate in registering their land to contribute to its success and the overall development of the country.

The Bim Saviya Programme is a critical advancement in Sri Lanka’s land management system, but it will need coordinated efforts to overcome obstacles towards successfully accomplishing shared goals.

10. In Conclusion

Land title registration stands as a significant pillar in effective land management as it can significantly shape Sri Lanka’s economic and social development. The Bim Saviya Programme, with its focus on digitalization and adherence to global standards, holds the potential for a profound transformation. Through necessary adaptations and heightened awareness, it can improve land ownership practices, ensuring security, efficiency, and stengthen investor confidence.

Despite its commendable aspects, the programme does still face criticism. Providing of clear titles helps landowners, and has the potential to drive investments and economic growth while effectively helping resolve disputes. The Bim Saviya Programme aims for a prospective future with regards to land and certain associated economic factors, characterized by secure land ownership and sustainable development in Sri Lanka.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top