Digitalizing land administration

The disputes over land involve the greatest number of civil and criminal cases in the country. Litigation over land claims, ownerships and related incidents keep engaged the greater part of the capacities of the country’s legal  systems.  The amounts drained by litigants in such land related hassles are also very great.
It would be possible to save a great deal of precious resources as well as energies and time both by individuals and the legal system if these land related legal  and illegal disputes could be far limited in number. But the doing of it requires indispensably the upgrading of the land administration or essentially  the keeping, using and retrieving land related various records.
Presently, such records are kept in primitive conditions by today’s global standards in most places of the country away from Dhaka.. Leaking roofs in  ill maintained record rooms destroy hand written records of  decades ago from wetting and dampening. Besides, the present mode of keeping the records provides  lucrative opportunities to their keepers in wasting time in the name of searching for them and also to tamper with them for the pecuniary gains. The media reported  how records  even disappear from record rooms  or falsified records are authenticated and given in  response to bribes to unscrupulous record room keepers.
In fact, the entire system of land recording and using the same is shot through with scopes for corruption and taking of bribes at every step. Surveys to determine land ownership are carried out at very long intervals but the final records are not made available promptly. Thus,  the results of such  surveys carried out soon after the independence of Bangladesh are in some cases yet to be finally published and titles to property declared against the new owners properly from changes of ownership due to sale or inheritance.
For example, the Dhaka City Survey from the land office was carried out more than  a decade ago. But its results were finally published only about four years ago. This situation  of non publication of survey reports in time provides the opportunity to land office officials to demand for mutation in each case of registration  and they make money under the table from providing such dubious mutation certificates that in turn understandably lead to many litigations later on. But all of these scopes for bribery and paving the way for litigations can be avoided from  completion of surveys in a reasonable period of time and publication and enforcement of their results at the fastest.
Only a digitalized or computerized  manner of keeping land records for all categories of users can be the effective solution to many crimes, corruption and troubles faced in this area. But the digitalization process is going on slowly it seems .
Clearly, the outmoded processes need to give way to complete  digitalization at the soonest. A comprehensive plan should be prepared for the purpose and funds placed and utilized at an early date for the plan to take off in the full sense of the term.  This is really a developmental issue of significance and  the country can only go on foot dragging in this vital area  by paying a higher and higher price in different ways.


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