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New frontier of war: Militarisation of Space: India Centric Thoughts and Perspectives

A small state in India has recognised GIS-based land records information system as the basis for all developmental planning across its various departments

Goa Landscape

Goa fact file 

• One of the top tourist destinations in India

• 3 million tourists every year

• Area: 361,113 hectares 

• Population: 1.5 million  

• Subdivisions: 12 administrative divisions

• Villages: 421 

• Cities: 4

• Land divisions: 800,000 

• Forest: 34% 

• Settlement + Industrial: 11% 

• Agricultural: 55% 

• Coastline: 105 km


Land and its ownership is a matter of concern for all landowners, big or small. With growth of population and rapid industrialisation, demand for land is on the rise with increasing encroachments on public land or even those belonging to individuals. It becomes imperative in such a scenario that the state and individual owners of land both know with certainty and accuracy the boundaries and extent of their property.

The Survey and Settlement department of Government of Goa is the custodian of the legal land records in the state and is responsible for preservation, updating and dissemination to public and other government agencies on demand. Goa maintains land records in the form of Record of Rights, which contain the ownership and land use detail, and plane table (PT) sheets, which contain the geometry of every land parcel.

The challenges in changing and modernising the business process of survey department, which is the custodian of legal records that are anywhere from 10 to 50 years old, were not ordinary. The initiative was not just to computerise information, but to change the way records were managed and delivered to stakeholders, leading to accurate and secure storage, faster delivery and easy and quick updation processes.

Land Records Information System (LRIS) as basis for e-governance

The state government undertook the ambitious project Land Records Information System, which involved 100% computerisation of maps and Record of Rights of the state, business process automation for the survey department and dissemination of information through a Web GIS portal. The initiative, called Dharnaksh (www.dharnaksh.com) makes land records available anywhere, anytime at the click of a mouse.

The state government has recognised that LRIS/GIS shall become the basis for all developmental planning activities by different government departments and made the survey department the nodal agency for all computerisation of cadastral records and updating the same through revisional survey. This effort is aimed at leading to e-governance.

Unlike some states in India which are only addressing computerisation of textual records, i.e., Record of Rights, the state of Goa realised that RoR forms only a fraction of requirement for governance. The real foundation for e-governance is a map-based networked information system that has all base maps and grows over a period of time to allow attachment of layers and layers of graphical and alphanumeric domain specific data. Maps are not just for use by the survey department, but every government department needs them for their day-to-day activity.

The survey department acts as a nodal agency for all maps maintenance as far as legal records are concerned. However, other government departments such the Public Works Department, Municipal Corporations, Forest, Irrigation, Mining etc will get hooked onto the same network in future and add their own spatial data layers on these maps. The idea being promoted is of sharing data on a network, with some layers of data belonging to and under maintenance of each department, but others are also free to use it. Also, this project paves the way to solve one of the major problems plaguing various states in India, namely, vexatious land disputes due to multiple or malafide transactions on land. The online land information system makes it easy for any interested agency or party to verify the extent, land use and title of any land parcel in the State.

Building e-infrastructure

Dharnaksh project by Directorate of Settlement and Land Records-Government of GoaInfrastructure is the foundation of any successful project. A project of the nature of LRIS required not only physical infrastructure but also e-Infrastructure like

• Computer hardware

• Networking encompassing all the talukas

• Computerisation of RoR for the entire state

• Computerisation of base maps for entire state

Data security has been ensured through encryption and biometric device security provided by the VISION MapMaker software, which is an Indian GIS product. Data is shared by everyone, but updated only on authentication of fingerprints of the authority concerned.

As on date, Goa has computer facilities at all talukas and major cities which are networked and run both the land information system, making digital map data available across the state and also run the NIC-developed Record of Rights data management application, which allows citizens to apply for certified copies of RoR or for online mutation from across the state. Now, the Land Records Department has taken a step forward to put all the data available from a Web-based GIS, making it possible to view and obtain land records in Goa from anywhere in the World.

Goa is now the only state in India that has:

• 100% computerisation of maps and RoR

• Facilities for online updation of maps

• Has integrated maps with RoR

• Provides land conversion/partition and land acquisition details along with map

• Has completed 100% resurvey in the state

• Access to computerised land records anywhere/everywhere

With this initiative, Goa has become the first state in the country to make information available to public and other interested agencies online and achieve the goals of e(ffective)-governance, namely,

• Modernisation of business process

• Transparency of information

• Improved services to public

• Efficiency of departmental operations

What Dharnaksh has achieved?

Dharnaksh and the statewide Land Records Information System have changed the way the survey department functions. Now any person from anywhere in the world can login and view any map or land parcel extract online using any Internet-enabled system and obtain a certified copy on payment. Within six months of opening to public access, Dharnaksh has over 2000 registered users, over 20,000 site hits and over 25,000 land parcel details have been viewed online.

The department now carries out all its business processes like issue of certified copies, processing applications for mutation (subdivision, change of ownership etc), land acquisition and conversion (change of land use) online on a statewide network, with centralised and synchronised databases. Dharnaksh and LRIS are a major leap for the survey department of Goa in e-governance and application of Geospatial IT for the benefit of the society.