Computerisation of land records in India
Joint Secretary (Land Reforms),
Ministry of Rural Development,
Department of Land Resources, Government of India.
D. K. Bhalla
Private Secretary to the Ministry of State,
Dept. of Women & Child Development
Government of India, Shastri Bhawan
The history of land records is as old as the Indian civilisation. Maintenance of these records has gone through a process of evolution as it passed through various administrative systems and socio-economic compulsions. Without going into details, it can be safely stated that the present system of preparing and maintaining land records originated from the Moghul period and reached its scientific form during the British rule. All the subsequent efforts are largely revisional with de novo preparations combined by newly accredited areas on the basis of existing laws and rules. Land records are of great importance to contemporary socio-economic imperatives and their revision and updating are necessitated for capturing the essentials of changes in social dynamics.
The system of correction and updating of land records is very elaborate. Maps depicting land parcels (cadastral maps) are required to be updated every 30 years through the process of survey and settlement operations. Most states have not done any survey or settlement operations after independence. As a consequence, updation of records has suffered and they no longer represent the ground realities relating to ownership and possession. The situation has been well recognised at various forums at different points of time. In December 1988, the Conference of Revenue Secretaries of States took cognisance of the poor state of land records and recommended immediate action. Even the First Plan has taken note of this fact and its possible consequences. In a primarily agrarian economy with a distorted social structure, it has serious implication in terms of its impact on the execution of all welfare/economy development activities.
Initiatives during Five Year Plans
Since the First Plan, planners have been advocating proper maintenance of land records as the basis for good administration, aimed at social justice through better implementation of rural development programmes. This was reiterated in the Second and Third Plans. The Sixth Plan had envisaged the completion and updation of land records from 1980 to 1985. To quote the Sixth Plan document, "Systematic programmes would be taken up for compilation/updating of land records for completion within a period of five years, i.e 1980 - 1985. In states, where the backlog is heavy, aerial survey techniques may be employed for expeditious survey operations. Each cultivator would be given a passbook indicating his status/title to description of the land viz. area, cess, etc. along with a copy of khasra/map and other details that are considered necessary. Appropriate provision will be made in revenue laws to confer legal status on these documents as proof of title and rights in land". Similarly, the Seventh Plan document also emphasised the need for updated and accurate land records. According to the Seventh Plan document, "Land records form the base for all land reform measures and, therefore, regular periodic updating of land records is essential in all states. This will neccessarily have to include a scientific survey of unmeasured land and recoding of rights of tenants and share-croppers which have remained unrecorded up till now".
The Eight Plan (1992-1997) and the Ninth Plan (1997-2002) have also envisaged the fulfilment of all five-year principles of National Land Reform Policies, that is, the abolition of inter- mediaries, tenancy reforms with security to actual cultivators, redistribution of ceiling, surplus land, consolidation of holdings and updating of land records. The general theme underlying the content of all Plan documents has emphasised that land is an asset, which provides the primary and secondary needs of the people. Most of the problems of the people in the villages are due to land related issues. Planning and maintaining land records is a pre-requisite before any land reform policies can be successfully implemented. To achieve this, latest information technology is a must for quicker storing, processing and retrieving of information database in land records. Therefore, computerisation of land records is an essential step to achieve all these goals especially if we have to realise the goal of decentralised planning and administration as envisaged in the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution of India.
The Government of India and the state governments have been seized with the recurring problem of inadequately maintained
land record system as it had made the administration of land reforms difficult and had served to neutralise their benefits. A weak land record system had also been viewed as a systemic weakness that has helped the perpetration of atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The following are the major initiatives taken by the Government of India for computerisation of land records:
Objectives of the ‘CLR" Scheme
Keeping in mind all the aforesaid ideas, the final list of objectives of the scheme as conceived in the Memorandum for Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC Memo), submitted in 1993 by the Ministry of Rural Development, was as given below:
The centrally-sponsored scheme on computerisation of land records was started in 1988-89 with 100% financial assistance as a pilot project in the eight districts/states mentioned above was with a view to removing the problems inherent in the manual system of maintenance and updating of land records and to meet the requirements of various groups of users. It was decided that efforts should be made to computerise the CORE DATA contained in land records, so as to assist development planning and to make records accessible to people/planners/administrators. By 1991-92, the scheme had been extended to 24 districts in different states viz., Haryana, H. P., J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi UT.
During the Eight Plan, the scheme was approved as a separate centrally-sponsored scheme on computerisation of land records. The total expenditure on the Scheme during the Eight Plan period was Rs. 59.42 crore which was utilised for covering 299 new districts and also for providing additional funds for the on-going pilot projects. Thus, by the end of the Eight Plan, 323 districts in the country were brought under the scheme with an expenditure of Rs. 64.44 crore.
The scheme is being implemented since 1994-95 in collaboration with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which is responsible for the supply, installation and maintenance of hardware, software and other peripherals. NIC is also responsible for providing training to the revenue officials and technical support for proper implementation. The Ministry of Rural Developemnt is providing funds to the state governments for site preparation, data entry work and for purchase of necessary furniture and other miscellaneous expenditure.
Since inception of the scheme, the Ministry has released Rs. 109.37 crores upto March 31, 1999. The utilisation of funds reported by the states/UTs as on November 30, 1999 is Rs. 62.15 crore which is approximately 57% of the total fund released. During the first year of the Ninth Plan i.e. 1997-98, Rs. 20.19 crore was released to states for covering 177 new project districts and also for providing funds for purchase of software, hardware and other peripherals for tehsil/taluk level operationalisation of the scheme. Accordingly, during 1997-98, 475 taluks/tehsils were brought under the programme of operationalisation (@ Rs. 2.20 lakh per tehsil/taluk). During 1998-99, Rs. 24.75 crore was released for covering 28 new districts and operationalisation of the scheme in 625 more tehsils/talukas. At present the scheme is being implemented in 544 districts of the country leaving only those districts where there are no land records.
In the 1999-2000 budget the provision under the scheme is Rs. 33.00 crore of which funds to the tune of Rs. 25.69 crore have already been released to the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry upto November 30, 1999 for undertaking pilot project on digitisation of cadastral survey maps, operationalisation of the scheme in 407 new tehsils and additional funds for on-going projects. The entire allocated funds under the CLR scheme will be utilised during the current financial year. So far only five projects, viz. Sonitpur in Assam, Gulbarga in Karnataka, Morena in Madhya Pradesh, Rewari in Haryana and Burdwan in West Bengal have been completed where the computerised Records of Rights (ROR) are being issued to the land owners. In about 100 districts, data entry and data validation work is nearing completion. The progress of implementation of the scheme is periodically reviewed at the level of Joint Secretary as well as through annual conferences of revenue Secretaries and revenue Ministers of the states/UTs. The officers of the Ministry also visit various states to assess the progress of the scheme and to have first-hand information regarding snags and bottlenecks in the implementation of the scheme.
During 1997-98, a decision for operationalisation of the scheme at the tehsil/taluk level was taken for facilitating delivery of computerised land records to users and the public at large. Under this programme, funds are released to state governments for purchase of hardware, software and other peripherals and upto November 30, 1999, 1400 tehsils/taluks have been covered under the programme. Pilot projects for digitisation of cadastral survey maps have been sanctioned in some states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
Evaluation and Monitoring of "CLR"
Since the feedback from the states regarding implementation of the scheme has not been forthcoming and progress of utilisation has also been very low, it was decided in 1998 to conduct comprehensive evaluation studies in eight districts of different states viz., Andhra Pradesh (Rangareddy), Madhya Pradesh (Hoshangabad), Maharashtra (Amravati), Karnataka (Mysore), Orissa (Mayurbhanj), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Uttar Pradesh (Aligarh) and West Bengal (Howrah). The objectives of the study were:
There are many bottlenecks in the implementation of the scheme by the state govenments. Some of the bottlenecks and the remedial measures are: delay in transfer of funds to implementing authority by the state governments, delay in construction of room with A.C. etc. For installation of computers and other equipments, delay in development of appropriate software as per the requirement of the state government, delay in supply and installation of the hardware by the NIC, lack of adequate training to revenue officials to handle the computers and non-availability of good vendors for taking up the job of data-entry work. The ways and means for making the scheme more effective are – to gear up the monitoring mechanism for periodic review of the implementation of the scheme by the state-level implementing authorities and organisation of regular training programmes for the revenue staff and the evaluation of the scheme by entrusting the studies to reputed research organisations.
Not too much thought had been put into defining in detail the quantified deliverable/outputs from the CLR scheme. For the last 10 years, data entry at various levels has been going on at a languid pace with no deliverables visualised or defined except the ROR, which also was not available to landowners even after a decade of pumping in funds and time. It has taken so long that the platform (FOXPRO/Clipper at most places) has died out without any tangible returns.
To encompass the computerisation of land records in its entirety instead of just trying to deliver the text database, three parallel activities need to be done:
The requirements from GIS system, if clearly defined, will give the state governments a defined direction to move. The GIS system will comprise digital cadastral maps linked with parcel information of landowners, which could be in ORACLE or some other appropriate RDBMS. The LIS system would take off from GIS and be a "Query and Modify Software" working on an extensive network built initially across each state from the districts and subsequently tied up at the office of the Commissioner Land Records and/or Settlement Commissioner/Director Land Records at the state level. This can be easily done by NIC as they have done in the case of the Department of Rural Development’s Schemes in Kerala where they have connected 152 blocks in 14 districts. The deliverables and the time frame for each of the above systems can be defined so as to enable the entire country to move along on the same line and to minimise time and expense in the process.
|© GISdevelopment.net. All rights reserved.|