Swadheen Kshatriya, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue and Forests, Government of Maharashtra, sheds light on how he is leveraging ICT for clean and clear land records. In conversation with Nikita Apraj, ENN
Governance has gained lot of traction in Maharashtra during the last few years. Many new initiatives have been taken. What is your vision of e-Governance in revenue department?
My vision for e-Governance is that the revenue department and all offices under the revenue department should move towards attaining e-office. The best example today of e-office is the Collector Office of Sindhudurg. It has reached to a stage of completely paperless governance. All collector offices and tehsil offices should be completely integrated into this system. My vision is that all the collector offices and subdivisional offices and even the revenue department in Maharashtra should move in that direction. However, I accept the fact that this is a long process, but I am sure it will spread to departments and offices across the state. We are focusing on the e-Governance measures which will provide immediate relief to the citizens. We have finalised software – e-Chavadi and e-Mutation. Both these software have been approved by the IT department and are now ready to be rolled out for the implementation in all districts of Maharashtra.
Tell us about the software being used by your department. In what ways are these solutions enabling you to improve efficiency and transparency?
e-Chavadi enables a talathi to make use of a laptop for providing records of rights to the land owner. It facilitates several other activities like mutation, correction of records to be carried out instantly. We have around 12,600 talathis and approximately 8,700 of them are now using laptops. The e-chawdi
software was developed by a talathi himself. He prepared the first software and called it the talathi-mitra. It became very popular among talathis. I am very happy that large numbers of newly-recruited young talathis are very comfortable using information technology and e-governance.
We have conducted pilot for the last one year on the e-mutation. This pilot was successful and has given us confidence that we will be able to implement the e-mutation across the state. Basically e-mutation involves simultaneous online real-time changes in land record. Any transaction, in terms of sales, in terms of change in ownership will be recorded in the revenue and as well as the registration. For example, if somebody goes directly to the registrar’s office and he finds that such a transaction has taken place, information is immediately transmitted to the revenue department.
Brief us about the e-Mojni initiative?
Earlier you had to wait to know when your land will be measured. You would be concerned about who will be coming to measure the land and at what time. At times when our staff went to measure land, the land owner was not available and therefore the result was not satisfactory. e-Mojni enables you to know when your land will be measured. When you apply through e-Mojni, immediately you receive information about the day n which the land will be measured. It also informs about the time as well as the officials who are going to come to measure the land. Even the mobile numbers of these officials are informed to the applicant, so that in case a particular date or time is not convenient for that person, he can request for a change. We have also started using Electronic Total Station Machines (ETS) that measures the land much faster and in a more accurate manner. ETS can measure accurately radius of about 5 kms. That has enabled us to measure the land more accurately.
“My vision is that all the collector and sub-divisional offices along with the revenue department should move to e-Office”
You have also undertaken digitalisation of land records. What are the main benefits of this scheme?
Yes, we have undertaken a major programme this year for digitisation of the land records and village maps. The old records are very valuable records, but due to heavy usage and daily wear and tear they are in a delicate condition. We are making use of modern technology to scan all these records and digitize these maps. Most importantly, all these records will be made available in the public domain. We are planning to set up kiosks at Tehsil offices, Collector offices, Sub-divisional offices where all the scanned and digitized records should be available to the citizen on a touch-screen. We want to demystify the land records and we want to make it available to the citizens.
Revenue department is undertaking re-survey of the land. Tell us about more about that.
We want the modern technology to carry out re-survey of land. The last land survey in Maharashtra was carried out 80-90 years back and thereafter no resurvey has been conducted. There is a huge difference between the old records and the reality on ground. This has been a cause of many litigations, disputes and mutations. We want to make the land records clean and bring about clear titles. We are planning to launch e-Survey programme. We have completed a pilot project in the last six months and on the basis of experience that we have gained in the pilot project, we are very keen to launch a state-wide programme which will be done in phases. We want to begin during the current financial year and for that we will be needing lot of technology solutions and modern technology solutions.
Districts covered in the phase I and its time period will soon be declared. The government is convinced about the necessity of the re-survey. We are studying various types of technologies that are available for carrying out such survey. Considering the spread of the state and constraint of the time-period, we need a technology that is much faster than other technologies. At the same time it has to be accurate because land is such a precious commodity that a slight mistake can become a big problem. Survey should have been conducted every 30 years.
Maharashtra is blessed with different types of geographies, so we will be using different technologies as per the need of a particular geography. For example, we don’t need minute measurements in the large areas of a dense forest. But in terms of measuring cultivating lands nd residential lands, an EPS-GPS solution will be helpful.
How citizens are responding to e-Transactions?
The citizens are very happy about the speed and ease e-transactions has brought in. The number of certificates, public redressals that through use of information technology is great and we will continue to make use of ICTs to deliver better services to the people.