Delay in digitalising land registration   

Marksman     | Published: July 03, 2018 22:20:36 | Updated: July 04, 2018 22:05:59

Among the government's   commitments for digitalisation of services, perhaps the most popular one  relates to   the agenda  of  digitalising the country's  land registration system. All because, anyone visiting a   land office to receive registration services  has to endure   corruption, let alone  hassles. So the people  eagerly await  digitalisation  of the land registration system they have to take recourse to almost on a daily basis.  The government and the civil society  never tire of  emphasising  how  going on-line  with  public services  would automatically  ensure speed,  transparency  and accountability  of  governance -- all in a convenient and cost-efficient  package.             

With this perspective in mind, it really smacks of vested interests swirling around the country's land administration system clawing back to queer the pitch of digitalisation whenever it hits the news trail. For they feel threatened to be running out of business.

It  is a sad commentary though, on  the  pace of  implementation of  the digital  project  that the government had   launched  as far back  in 2010  focused on  land registration.  Particularly  concerning  is the fact that 'the progress of the project  got halted in 2015 despite completion of the  software development, a major task of its automation, as reported  in this paper  on Friday.

The waffling  about the project  continues as  no progress  has  been reportedly  made  in  'reviving the project'  halted   three years back. On the one hand, those who do not want the  cracks in the system sealed off to carry out their designs of corruption and malpractice get a traction; and on the other, the government's  prized  project  receives  a setback.

The Directorate of General Registration  took  up as a pilot project in 2012 with its own funds in line with the government plan  for automation of four land registration offices and record rooms. But when   the DGR wanted to embark on replication of the micro projects   country-wide it faced resource crunch. So it put in a request for Tk 2.0 billion for digitalizing the country's registration system.

The imperative for digitalisation in this sector is reinforced if one takes into account the fact that land registration is the  government's second largest revenue  source  after  the National Board  of Revenue (NBR).

We thank a senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity  has put forward an unassailable argument against fund shortage being apparently touted : "The total cost of the project covering the whole country was around TK 1.93 billion, an amount which can be met with DGR's earnings  of just a few days."          

Granted,  the massive project  of a wholesale  transformation from  corruption-infested  manual  land  management paradigm  into  complete  digitalisation of the system would have been too much of a heavy-lifting for the government. Thus    one   can't  fail to see  that  the implementing  authority   didn't  take a  plunge in  digitalising  the whole  land administration system  ranging from the management of Khas lands or public property  to  private  land-holdings, although that  should be the ultimate but time-bound aim to be  accomplished.               

Since  the cracks of the manually-handled  deed   registration system  have  widened  over the centuries with  fragmentation of land-holdings,  what with very high   incidence of land grabbing, digitalization  should spearhead  not just land administration but land use as well.                     

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