“Preparing land records in the state is a challenge as nature of land holding is diversified and complex in Jharkhand,” says J B Tubid. In conversation with Souvik Goswami
Please give us an overview of the Revenue and Land Reforms Department of the Jharkhand Government.
This department is basically a regulatory department and the main function is to manage the land asset of the state. Jharkhand has got an interesting feature in terms of land. It is Schedule Five State. So, part of the land territory falls under schedule five area which has a special land laws such as Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. There is protection for certain categories of tenants, which these laws are trying to give. The genesis and origin of these two acts is basically revolution and agitation dated back to the years of 1830 and 1840s. This was basically tribal revolt against the land lords and mahajans. Leaders like Sindhu, Kanhu, Tilka Majhi led the agitation against those who were trying to grab the land of these local people.
On the other hand if we see the geographical location of Jharkhand, we will find that it is a store house of lots of good mineral resources like coal, iron ore, copper, boxite, atomic minerals, dolomite and all of these are precious minerals important for industrial purposes. What I am trying to say is that on the one hand, state is duty bound to protect the local people and on the other side, there is tremendous pressure and scope for industrialization. Now, once you go for mining activities what will happen? Lots of people will be displaced. There will be always a debate on development versus displacement. Apart from these, lots of people from outside also have started settling here due to industrialization and this has created a tussle between the local and the outsiders.
All these have created tremendous pressure on land which is of protected category. There are certain areas where land holding is not in the hand of the government, but in the hand of certain individuals and we cannot touch their land. On the other hand, some parts of the state are governed by the Bihar Tenancy Act.
How do you manage this complex scenario related to land records in the state of Jharkhand?
I am coming to that. We have now three situations here related to land where acts are different, and we have to manage these entire three various situations. In this context, we have also started to realize that the land records are not updated as it involves huge amount of land records. There are lots of issues which are coming up. Like we found out during land acquisition process that land records are not updated and the compensation which is supposed to be paid to the land holder or tenants are not paid in time. All these things are creating problems.
We have to go in for a digital mode. You cannot manage data or records which is such huge and diversified. The “National Land Record Modernization Program” has helped us. Prior to this we were doing some survey work and our experience in that is not very happy. We started survey work for last 30 years in some areas and still it is going on and land records are not updated.
So is this a major challenge?
Definitely, it is a challenge. Preparing land records is not a very easy job now days. One has to move plot by plot, prepare dossiers for each and every plot, village boundaries have to be fixed and it has to merge with the state boundary and other complex things are involved in terms of land records.
What kind of ICT initiatives is being undertaken by your department to overcome these challenges?
All these complex issues are made simpler by the use of satellite imagery and once you go for satellite imagery, you can create land records in much easier way. Therefore, this particular program (NLRMP) is coming very handy to us, and I must say ICT is helping us in a huge way. In digital mode anything can be done. Once the date is correctly entered, one can manipulate infer, plan in various ways. At present, planning is not possible from the old records. The data has to be before your screen and similarly you can manipulate data in different manner. That is not possible in textual format. There are survey establishments which are almost in the completion stage and we are speeding it up and we are in the process of entering previous data in the digital mode. Similarly, for future where this survey has not been done, we will use the latest survey technology for surveys taking help of satellite imagery, and this will make data very concise, handy and easy to handle.
You are also the Principal Secretary in the Department of Cabinet Secretariat and Co-ordination in state government. What kind of ICT initiatives have been taken in that department?
At present, the files move on a file-tracking mode in the Jharkhand Secretariat. We have installed file trackers for this. Once a file moves in the various administrative levels physically, similarly its movement is shown in the computer, and also it can be seen for how long that particular file has been pending with somebody. It can be tracked from the level of section officer to the highest level. In our state we are taking e-governance initiatives in a composite manner. For example, I can tell you about the Aadhar-based attendance system in the secretariat. I can also give you the example of Home Department. Video conferencing for the prisoners program was being initiated when I was associated with the Home Department. With the help of this, any prisoner can be produced in court through video-conferencing mode. We also have prisoner management system.
What is your vision for the Revenue and Land Reforms Department of the Jharkhand Government?
Our aim is simple. Revenue has to be collected. We collect revenue from different mode. We are collecting revenue from small land holder. For this tenant has to go to a sarkari karmachari. Now this can be done online and ICT can play a major role in this. We can take help of mobile service also. Actually we are planning to run a pilot project in some of the rural area where some work can be done through mobile telephony. For your information I can give you a personal example of how ICT can be used for better delivery of services to the citizens. In past I developed an application for prisoner’s relatives in the state. Relatives of the prisoners do come from villages regularly to the jails to meet them and for that they would be spending more than 1000 rupees. We opened video linkages at each and every block headquarters (Pragya Kendras) to resolve this problem. Now from Pragya Kendra relative can book a date to meet prisoner and from the jail’s side message will be conveyed to him/her about the date to see the prisoner. Now meeting of the prisoner and his relatives have been made so easy. We should use the technology to maximum and there is tremendous scope and opportunity where we can apply these types of digital methods to improve the lives of people.