Land administration goes online
The Gujarat government’s e-Dhara project aimed to modernise land administration and to enable farmers to manage this crucial resource better. e-Dhara is the name of the taluka centre, where farmers can access their land records, obtain copies of ownership documents and even apply for ration cards. Integrating e- Dhara with the Vishwa Gram initiative led to a programme called RoR@Village, which enabled farmers to obtain their Record of Rights (RoR) documents from the village panchayat itself, without needing to visit even the taluka office or the e-Dhara Kendra (eDK).
The Gujarat government’s need to computerise land records sprang from the need to ensure speed, accuracy, transparency and faster dispute resolution in land administration. Apart from providing computerised copies of RoRs to farmers (at nominal service charges), the government wanted to ensure low-cost, easy reproduction of data and fast retrieval of information for decision-making. The government wanted a system that could store data, record changes, generate analysis-based reports and respond to search queries.
The solution, e-Dhara, was a mix of client-server architecture and a web application. The land records handled by the talati (village accountant) were converted to digital format. e-DKs were set up at the taluka level to issue computerised copies of RoRs to farmers and to record mutations. To do this, a software called BhuLekh Soft was used. BhuLekh Soft has three modules — mutation, administration, and front office. In the mutation module, 36 types of mutations — transactions to update land records — can be recorded at the e-DK.
Authentication is done via fingerprinting. The process of entering mutations is systemised, starting from data entry to updating the land record. Mutations are verified and appropriate notices are generated. The administration module enables the administrator to enrol fingerprints, modify master files, manage roles and take backups.
The Front Office module is for reports and queries. Apart from copies of RoRs, reports such as loan and mortgage details, seasonwise area of crops, irrigation details, land details and statistics, information about trees, tenure and land use statistics and the summary and analysis of a taluka can be generated. Mutation request receipts and other notices can also be generated and printed. The module also enables entry and updating of crop data. A workflow was devised to use the software in accordance with existing rules and regulations. The mutation process was made uniform across the state by using auto generated entry scripts and common application formats. Biometric devices were used for authentication to ensure data security.
BhuLekh Soft was then used over the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN), a SAN that connected the e-DKs with the Gujarat State Centre.
The project has helped create an e-governance environment in rural areas. Computerised copies of RoR are available to farmers and landowners by paying a nominal fee. It has created a new source of revenue records, apart from the talati, led to greater transparency and minimised tampering of land records, helped in land-related litigation cases. The MIS data is used in land reforms and planning.