Another SARATHI in town, this one to stop bids to strike fraudulent land deals in state

Residents hail move of setting up the new Sarathi helpline, officials say it’s a stepping stone to ‘Right to Services Act’.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune | Updated: December 8, 2014 10:25:14 pm
The call centre claims to have received nearly 1 lakh calls in three and a half months.(Source: IE photo by Pavan Khengre) The call centre claims to have received nearly 1 lakh calls in three and a half months.(Source: IE photo by Pavan Khengre)

WHEN Omprakash Khanagwal, a resident of Nasirabad in Ajmer, Rajasthan, wanted to buy a piece of land in Lonavala, he asked his friend in Pune to check the authenticity of the deal. To his shock, the friend got to know that the land had already been sold off previously. The sellers had tried to trap Khanagwal in a fraudulent deal and he was saved by a whisker.

This is not a one-off case as complaints of such fraudulent deals are regularly lodged with the authorities.

What came to Khanagwal’s rescue is the new Sarathi helpline started by the Department of Registration and Stamps, along with the Citizen’s Charter.

Officials said the project launched by the department headed by Inspector General Shrikar Pardeshi was the first of its kind in the country and meant to benefit anybody living in India and planning to buy land or property in Maharashtra. “It is the first stepping stone towards the Right to Services Act planned by the Devendra Fadnavis government,” said an official.

Pardeshi, during his previous posting as municipal commissioner, had launched Sarathi in Pimpri-Chinchwad and the project turned out to be a big success.

The Sarathi project — helpline number 8888007777 — launched by the Department of Registration and Stamps on August 15 is proving to be no different. In barely three-and-a-half months, as many as 1.35 lakh residents across Maharashtra have taken advantage of the plan. Every day, nearly 1,200 people across Maharashtra are taking recourse to the new initiative. The department has 500 sub-registrar offices where as many as 9,000 documents are registered every day.

Pardeshi said land agreements signed barely a minute ago were available online now. “Anybody who wishes to purchase a land can call up the helpline number and seek guidance. Whether a land has already been sold can be found out on our website. If you put the survey number in the e-search, you will immediately get the details of the piece of land that you wish to buy,” he said.

Those who do not have access to Internet can call up the helpline number. According to officials, the call centre provides guidance as well as registers complaints of residents and operates on all days of the week from 7 am to 9 pm.

“This is a welcome step and will go a long way in curbing fraudulent land and property deals in Maharashtra,” said Rohidas Rithe, a resident of Bhopkhel who too was victim of a fraud land deal recently.

“SARATHI (Stamp And Registration Assistance Through Helpline Information) provides complete and standardised information about the department in an integrated manner. It covers information on organisational structure, document registration, stamp duty, valuation of property, e-services, e-payment, deemed conveyance and marriage registration,” said Pardeshi.

Citizen’s Charter, said Pardeshi, was an effort to help residents to know in detail about the 27 different services provided by seven different types of offices in the department. “It gives vital information about a service like documents required, prescribed fees, time taken to provide the service, officer responsible to provide the service, appellate authority etc. Residents can access SARATHI and Citizen’s Charter through FAQs, PDF book, mobile app and e-book using http://www.igrmahhelpline.gov.in,” he said.

Pointing out that they had laid stress on education, information and communication, Pardeshi said: “The effort is to educate residents about their right to get documents registered in 30 minutes or the same day or the number of days in which they can get certificates. If they don’t get these in stipulated time, they can complain to us through the helpline or through email.” He said SARATHI information had been provided in a simple language that anybody could easily understand.

Pardeshi said the main website of the department — http://www.igrmaharashtra.gov.in — had been comprehensively upgraded to provide information about sample application forms, check lists for scrutiny of applications, ready drafts of a few important documents, user guides for e-services, list of banks and agencies for collection of stamp duty etc.

At the same time, he added, the website had been made more user-friendly with important Acts, Rules as well as forms and attachments required for various services available online.

“Besides, the residents are guided about each activity of the department in a comprehensive manner. The online services have been made citizen-friendly with detail user guide and FAQs for each of the service,” said Pardeshi.

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