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IN WHAT is the biggest aerial land survey exercise conducted in India, Maharashtra will make use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones to survey residential land across 39,733 villages.
S Chokalingam, Maharashtra’s Settlement Commissioner and Director of Land Records, said the statewide land measurement exercise can be completed within just three years.
While Maharashtra is the most urbanised state in India, more than 52 per cent of its population still resides in villages, show official records. But 53 years after the formation of the state, the government, which had earlier relied on manual surveys alone, has so far been able to survey residential lands for only 3,931 out of 43,664 villages.
“It would have taken us at least 30 years to survey all rural lands in the state using the traditional approach. But using technology, the task can be completed within three years,” said Chokalingam.
In March this year, Chokalingam’s department had tied up with national survey and mapping agency, the Survey of India (SOI), for piloting the initiative in Pune’s Soneri village. “The pilot project was successful. It was fast and accurate. We plan to replicate the same for gaothans across the state. A proposal in this regard has been submitted to the government,” said Chokalingam.
According to the proposal, the SOI will oversee the entire mapping exercise, including preparation of digital maps and land use plans.
Further, in order to speed up the process of issuing the record of rights or ownership records to individual property owners in the surveyed belts, the government has even proposed outsourcing some of the processes.
The statewide mapping exercise is estimated to cost Rs 76 crore, while the entire land measurement process would cost Rs 388 crore. “The same cost using traditional approach would have been at least 50 to 70 per cent higher,” said Chokalingam.
Maharashtra already has land use plans for all urban belts.
After the completion of the rural mapping exercise, land use plans for all rural belts will also be in place, officials said.
Once the maps and boundaries of individual private properties within a village are fixed, a formal ownership record (sanad) and property cards can be issued to the owners. This, in turn, is expected to improve the property’s monetary worth, as these can then be mortgaged for availing loans from institutional lenders. It will also facilitate solving ownership related disputes.
Accurate land use maps will also help the state administration in demarcating and securing public lands from encroachment, said Chokalingam. It will also help property tax collections.
The SOI will erect global navigation satellite system stations in villages for continuous, instant, and more accurate mapping using drone.
The government will pay seed money for the project. Like the existing system, the proposal is to collect fees from property owners while issuing ownership titles to make it self sustaining.