AIMING TO bring conclusiveness in the matters of land titles, the Maharashtra government plans to undertake a mammoth exercise of digitising land records and resurveying landholdings across the state, starting with six districts this year. The Office of the Settlement Commissioner and Director Land Records is in the process of finalising tenders to resurvey and digitise land records in the villages of Raigad, Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nashik and Pune, in an exercise that will cost about Rs 230 crore.
This will be the first time in nearly 150 years that the land records of Maharashtra would be surveyed. Sambhajirao Kadu Patil, Settlement Commissioner and Director, Land Records, said, “The first survey was undertaken between 1860 and 1890, followed by a revision survey in 1930, mainly to fill the gaps. There is a lot of opacity in landholdings as of now, leading to huge litigation, and murkiness in transactions. By resurveying all land holdings, we hope to minimise this.” He added that the department would ready bid documents and invite tenders in a month.
The department plans to complete the digitisation and surveys of the six districts within three years, and rural areas of the rest of the state in five years from now. The government will float two separate tenders — one for the digitisation of records, and another for the land surveys. For this, the department will resort to satellite mapping, purchasing images from organisations such as the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre. The satellite maps will be superimposed on the actual maps available to note the differences.
This will be followed by a ground-truthing exercise, which will involve a physical survey on the field to minimise differences between the satellite imagery and actual ground conditions, and demarcate boundaries. The department will then issue public notices, and hold consultations with villagers to record any suggestions and objections from the local residents with regards to the plot surveys. After this, the records would be digitised. After finalising the survey and digitising the records, the government will give a document to the plot owner consisting the details and exact boundaries of his or her landholding, and the plot owner will be charged a nominal amount for the land survey record, officials said.
The entire exercise is being conducted under the Union government’s Digital India National Land Records Management Programme launched to modernise land records, the objective of which is to minimise property disputes and increase transparency in the records maintenance system. The government had conducted a pilot project across 12 villages in Mulshi earlier, before deciding to replicate the exercise in the entire state. Why digitisation, resurvey is necessary The first land survey in the state was conducted during the British reign between 1860 and 1890.
Barring a revision survey, which was restricted to filling gaps rather than an exhaustive exercise of covering the entire state again, and a land survey in the Vidarbha region in the 1970s, there has been no attempt to update documentation of land titles in the state systematically. This has over the years led to a rise in the number of disputes related to land, cases of buyers being cheated, and litigation.
State expects to get a mirror image of all plots. As of now, maps available with the government show entire plots and do not reflect the various sub-divisions that may have happened over the years. Officials say getting a mirror image of plots is an important step in moving towards conclusivity in land titles.
A significant reduction is expected in litigation related to land with the entire exercise resulting in accurate, digitised land records, and availability of ground control points, locations on the Earth’s surface with a known latitude and longitude and height above the mean sea level in metres.
It will enable land owners to make subdivisions in their plots easily. Further, any subdivisions and land transactions can be simply added online to the digitised land records, keeping them up to date.
It will minimise cases of buyers being cheated or over charged while transacting in land. The state also hopes the exercise to give a fillip to investment coming into Maharashtra with land acquisition being made easier and transparent, adding to the government’s ‘ease of doing business’ mission