Land disputes account for 40% of the total murders recorded in Bihar. Official records say 45,906 land dispute complaints were lodged between January 2010 and July 2014. Of them, only 23,181 complaints were disposed off and the remaining are still pending. Although, the state government had entrusted revenue courts led by deputy collector land reforms (DCLR) the task of solving land disputes, they face a tremendous challenge in disposing of the cases due to non-availability of real-time data related to ownership of land. However, with the intervention of technology and push for digitisation of land records in the state, things are gradually improving.
“The land survey in the state had been earlier carried out in the year 1910. These 100 year-old records have now become fragile and the actual picture on the ground has changed a lot. Old cadastral maps face critical preservation issues. Many new districts, village panchayats and municipal bodies have been created since the last survey which poses great difficulties in today’s revenue administration and in implementing development schemes, disposal of litigations and land acquisitions for infrastructure projects,” said Mithilesh Mishra, director, land records & survey, government of Bihar.
In order to address this challenge, the state government launched a comprehensive survey of revenue land, using aerial photography for storing updated and computerised record of land holdings. Since the state is spread over 94,163 sq. km area, has an administrative setup comprising of 9 divisions, 38 districts, 101 subdivisions, 534 circles and 45,700 revenue villages, this technology was adopted as it allows taking photographs of 100 square km land in an hour, depending on weather conditions.
“The task is challenging because a re-survey is basically a re-construction of land boundaries and sub-divisions by re-running, remarking the lines represented in the field-note records or on the plot of a previous official survey. That is why we decided to use hybrid survey methodology employing aerial photography and ground truthing,” said Mishra.
Under this method, the aircraft captures photographs of plots with specially designed camera fitted at the bottom of the fuselage. The raw images are stored on an onboard storage device. This raw data is further sent for security vetting to the ministry of defence. After getting clearance, the raw data passes through different stages of processing and a final map is sent to field for its verification through differential global positioning system (DGPS).
Out of 38 districts in Bihar, under this project 33 districts has been included. Districts such as Banka, Nawada, Jamui and West Champaran which have heavy forest cover had been left out. According to government officials, for these a separate field survey would be conducted to revise the land records.
Although this project was supposed to be completed by 2015, still even the survey of all the districts are yet to be completed. “I understand that the survey should have been completed in one or two years time but you also have to consider the practical challenges on the ground. There has been a delay in approval for mapping which comes from DGCA, GoI. Then there is the challenge of shortage of skill resources” said Mishra, adding that the project is new and it is being done for the first time at a massive level, so he would prefer accuracy over speed.
So far maps of 10 district have already been completed and 12 more districts will be covered very soon. Once completed all the data will be put on the department website for general public.