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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Estate office goes online, ‘will lead to transparency’

Early this year, in a series of stories, The Indian Express had highlighted how it was taking years for the common man to get a basic document from the estate office.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
September 29, 2021 6:30:16 am
The Indian Express had tracked the applicants, accompanied them to the estate office and found officials had been sitting on files for years.

“The absence of digitisation had led to a non-transparent system where the applications of citizens were delayed for months together. Due to this lack of transparency, there were also allegations of corruption and various malpractices,” UT Administrator Banwarilal Purohit said during the launch of online services of the estate office in Chandigarh. The launch took place at Hotel Mountview.

Early this year, in a series of stories, The Indian Express had highlighted how it was taking years for the common man to get a basic document from the estate office. The Indian Express had tracked the applicants, accompanied them to the estate office and found officials had been sitting on files for years.

During the launch, the Administrator said, “Today’s launch encapsulates the vision of transparency, efficiency and citizen-centric services. This was the vision I had laid out before the officers of the UT Administration immediately on joining here. All the officers were told to make processes simple, to remove all ambiguities or anomalies, to ensure proper use of technology so that citizens could avail of services seamlessly. They were also told to crack down on any malpractices and bring about reforms to end harassment of citizens. I have always believed that systemic change is a must to bring about everlasting and sustainable changes. I am happy that today’s programme is one such example where process reengineering is taking place in a public office to provide various services to the citizens in a transparent and efficient manner.”

Purohit highlighted how “the estate office is one of the most important offices in Chandigarh, which is providing a plethora of services to the citizens”.

It was established in 1952 to provide various property-related services such as allotment, auction, maintenance of the record of ownership of various types of properties. However, most of these services were being provided through offline mode which has several inherent limitations and it is difficult to track files.

“The absence of digitisation had led to a non-transparent system where the applications of citizens were delayed for months together. The citizen had no feedback system and a very weak redressal system. Due to this lack of transparency, there were also allegations of corruption and various malpractices. In this day and age when a citizen can do most of the things sitting at home, it is surprising how only a manual system of payments was prevailing. The result of all these inefficiencies was delays, red tape and harassment of applicants,” Purohit added. To overcome these problems, the estate office undertook this project with the help of NIC.

Forty teams consisting of 125 employees were deputed to digitise all property records. A master form was designed containing all the essential fields. Each property file has about 200 essential fields, which are needed for any transaction. All these fields were first uploaded by computer operators. This meant roughly 80 lakh entries. All these entries were then verified by the clerks with digital signatures. This 100 per cent verification was done again at the senior assistant level and a sample verification of 10 per cent done at the superintendent level, again all with digital signatures. This has led to the building of a reliable digital database.

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