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Full digitisation of land records by 2018

Hyderabad: The Department of Land Records (DLR) plans to cover all 600-plus districts under National Land Records Management Programme (NLRMP), which means full digitisation of land records, including GIS maps, by the end of the XII Five Year Plan.

Speaking at the symposium on ‘Towards Effective Land Administration in India: Potential, Benefits, Road Map and Challenges’, organised on the second day of the India Geospatial Forum, Bipin Bihari Srivastava, Secretary, Department of Land Resources, said the department was working on formulating a structure on how to do it at national level down to the state level and then village level so that in the four years the land records were digitised, integrated and provided citizens with all kinds of services. “I know it’s a time-taking process, but with the level of knowledge and technology available now, I am confident we can do it. Of course, we have to have the will to do it.”

Srivastava admitted that the entire land records and management system had to be revisited keeping in view of the advancement in technology like geospatial. “We need to revisit almost everything — not only the technology, but also the law. There are certain laws which have become archaic while some require changes to evolve an effective convergence of technology. All this requires joining hands by the government, academics and the technology experts.” The secretary expressed hope that the seminar would mull the issues and at the end of it would come out some goals for the next year, so that a year later these are revisited and thrashed out. “If we do not do that, forums and seminars like this become only an academic exercise.”

DLR was a partner in organising the symposium. This is the second year in a row DLR collaborated with Geospatial Media and Communications to organise an event of such a scale lo look into the various existing land records systems, the lacunae and the way forward.

Srivastava added that the department needed to build up an inventory of competent HR personnel, technology service providers and other infrastructure and put it in the public domain to enable the state governments to access such agencies where from they could seek assistance when they wanted to implement this plan. “Because otherwise one or two companies approach the state governments and the whole process gets vendor driven and they get something they don’t want and what they want, they don’t get,” he said.

“[To bring in these changes] we need to take the people and agencies on board. We have to convince people that proper land records management is for their benefit as it establishes and then increases the value of the land, reduces disputes and encourages business,” Srivastava said.

Carrying on with the similar thought, Charanjit Singh, Director, Department of Land Resources, pressed home the point that well documented rights to land and ownership spurs growth and reflects on the economy of a country. He pointed out that according to a Mckenzie study, proper land records could free 1.3% of the GDP which is blocked.

The prevalent land records system was complex, paperwork cumbersome and didn’t reflect all rights and liabilities, said Singh. There are too many departments such as the revenue department for textual records, survey and settlement for consolidation, a department for maintaining spatial records while registration is a separate department altogether. Some states even have panchayats maintaining some records while urban bodies have their own records. There was a need to consolidate all this, he said adding that just computerising of land records had led to a whopping 75% jump in land revenues in Maharashtra.

Spelling out the details, Singh said the land record figures in India were mind boggling – there were 91.7 million ownerships, 5-6 parcels per holding, 140 million landowners, 430 million records spread over 640 districts in 35 states/UTs. Out of the 3.29 million sq km, 2.16 sq km million is surveyable area. Original cadastral mapping has not even been done in several areas especially the areas in northeast. To add to the problem, different states have different record maintain systems, different languages and cultures. Also, there are legal issues – if the land department issues digitised copy of RoR, these need legal sanctity.

Highlighting the challenges faced by the NLRMP, Singh said high-end technology was required for survey and resurvey, which faced a reluctant acceptance among line departments. There is an urgent need for capacity building among the officials, inadequate bandwidth for connectivity so that data could be accessed from a central server and interconnectivity among various departments like revenue, registration and urban bodies.

Singh said the way forward was a uniform system and command for all land records management, technology-mediated functional integration and nationwide interconnectivity. The NLRMP has provisioned for the PPP model except in sensitive areas. Many states and UTs are going for this model in operation and maintenance phases. He was particularly in praise for the Bhoomi-Kaveri land management system in Karnataka which had integrated all records and information was available on mobiles, the GRAS payment gateway of Maharashtra which was even being implemented in Bengal now and the Haryana government’s initiative to use high resolution images to modernise its land records. The Gujarat government’s pure grounded method of ETS and GPS use to update land records also found a special mention.

Former Surveyor General Dr P. Nag, who is the head of Kashi Vidyapeeth, urged the state governments to take initiative in this regard along with the Survey of India. Explaining the process, he said revenue records had to be integrated with the SOI’s ground control points nationally. Agreeing that SOI’s 1:10,000 maps were enough for land records, Dr Nag said it was possible to expand this system and many states were doing it. “We have to arrive at certain minimum requirements which the states have to agree with. Technology will keep on changing but our goals should remain fixed.”

Earlier, Geospatial Media & Communications CEO Sanjay Kumar said land was a complex phenomenon in a country like India where 70% people lived in rural areas and land was their sole sustenance. However, it is the people is rural areas who suffer most as improper land records failed to add value to a certain piece of land. “In urban areas, land has become an asset. But in rural areas, you can’t even mortgage it and take a loan. This is because of land disputes and lack of clear records,” he added.

He said there were advanced technology available now to put in place an effective and timely land records management system. “When you have maps and IT, you get commerce. Then only there is increase in revenue. That’s where PPP comes in handy,” he said.

Pointing out that land was a great resource and the primary source of economic activity, he said we needed to manage it well. “And to manage something, we need to build a good inventory first.” Calling for a revisit and updation of the NLRMP, Kumar said DLR should do it at 1:1,000 in collaboration with the SOI. This will free up disputed land and help other sectors, businesses, and would add value to the government’s rural and urban development programmes.

Source: Our Correspondent

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