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Digitisation of land records in Assam

Assam government’s Mission Basundhara aims at streamlining revenue administration in the state through the application of digital technology for transparency in land-related issues.

land records

Sentinel Digital Desk

Assam government's Mission Basundhara aims at streamlining revenue administration in the state through the application of digital technology for transparency in land-related issues. Digitisation of land records will be critical to the achievements of the goals under this ambitious project scheduled to be launched on October 2. Services to be delivered to citizens through the Basundhara portal will include mutation by right of inheritance, mutations after deed registration, partition for undisputed cases, permission for selling, reclassification of land and striking names of person no longer in possession of Records of Rights (RoR), among others. The State Government has set 2023 as the target year of completion of the digitisation of all land records. Lack of cadastral survey for many villages will be a hurdle in digitisation for providing land-related services online and prioritising the cadastral survey will be critical to making the Basundhara portal effective in the delivery of services by the revenue department. As revenue administration in Sixth Schedule areas is a subject delegated to Autonomous Councils the project will exclude seven districts under three territorial councils of Bodoland Territorial Region, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. Digitisation of land records in these Sixth Schedule areas by the council authorities is also important to check land alienation of tribal people in the state. Data on Computerisation of Land Records in different states under Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme of the Central Government shows that digitisation of records has been completed in 76.28% of villages while work has not started in 5788 villages. Mutation has been computerised in about 80% of villages, but digitally signed RoR has been done in only 2.42 % of villages while RoR linkage with Aadhar has been completed in just 84 of the total 24,419 villages. The state has made good progress in the computerization of the cadastral maps and digitised 85% of cadastral maps which are in good condition. Data reveals that over 6,000 villages do not have cadastral maps while maps of 1569 villages are not in good condition. Updating the land records through cadastral surveys and resurveys in these villages is of paramount importance to the digitisation of land records in all villages. Legal complexities in undertaking cadastral surveys without settling the question of detection of illegal Bangladeshi migrants cannot be wished away. The state government shouldn't ignore the issue as land alienation of indigenous people due to unabated migration of erstwhile East Bengal and East Pakistan and present Bangladesh and encroachment of land in the state has posed an existential threat to identity and culture of the ethnic communities. The problem of encroachment of Tribal Belt and Blocks has already assumed an alarming proportion. However, keeping in abeyance land settlement in areas with immigrant settlers is also not a pragmatic solution as it deprives genuine Indian citizens of access to the formal credit market for investment in agriculture and allied sectors due to lack of required land records having collateral value. Digitisation of land records will bolster the state government's initiative to provide land patta to indigenous landless people by facilitating an online system. The legal definition of "indigenous people" in Assam needs to be settled for clarity of revenue officials and applicants, keeping in mind the sensitivity around the issue of land settlement in the state. The updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam can be a vital document to ensure that illegal migrants are prevented from occupying the land of indigenous people by linking it to digitised land records. Sooner the process of updating the NRC is completed by excluding the names of illegal Bangladeshi migrants that were included and including the names of genuine Indian citizens that were excluded, it will be easier for the state to streamline revenue administration. The presence of six lakh landless farmers and erosion turning more farmers landless every year make land settlement in the state a challenging task. Digitisation of land records will help Circle Offices concerned to identify a suitable area for the allotment of land to such landless people following the Assam Land Policy 2019. Data integrity and internet speed will be factors determining efficiency in storage and retrieval of cadastral maps which will also reflect in citizen-centric service delivery. Online access to land-related service delivery by the Revenue and Disaster Management department will be a significant step towards empowering the citizens in getting their works done without any hassle and apprehension of exploitation by middlemen who run nexus of land records with corrupt officials and employees on premises of Revenue offices. Timely completion of cadastral surveys and resurveys, the pace of digitisation, fixing internet issues in remote and far-flung areas, addressing legal complexities involved in issues of land rights and land settlements will be crucial in ensuring that various target dates of completion of work under Mission Basundhara are not missed.

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