Errors in computerised land record


WEB DESK: Punjab became the first province last year to put in place a modern Land Record Management Information System (LRMIS) with the admirable objective of eliminating corruption, forgery, land grabs and to increase efficiency. Service centres have been functional in the province’s 143 tehsils promising to provide people a property deed in 30 minutes and mutation in 45 minutes.

Claiming due credit for the project a while ago Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had termed LRMIS as a “revolutionary project of public service” which would rid the people of the ‘patwari culture’ and eliminate wrong registration of land. Unfortunately, things have not turned out as intended. The patwari culture seems to have thrown a spanner in the works.

According to a report in this paper, the new computerised record is full of mistakes and wrong entries. For instance, in one case, the owner of four pieces of land – three in District Gujrat and one in Rahim Yar Khan – is reported to have complained that he could find only one of these on the LRMIS website, and that the information offered was outdated by 12 years. As a result, the family’s members who had disposed of their shares during this period are still shown as co-owners, and there is no record of who bought their shares. Such blunders do not inspire confidence in the efficacy or efficiency of the multi-billion rupee project. Who might have wanted to frustrate the provincial government’s good effort is not difficult to guess.

It is fair to assume that those entering data in the LRMIS system had little interest in recording wrong or incomplete information. The problem seems to have something to do with the patwari culture – infamous for changing ownership titles or commit other irregularities in exchange for monetary gains.

The LRMIS’s source of information are patwaris – tehsil level revenue officers – who, until the computerised record became functional, maintained land revenue record for their jurisdictions. Considering that computerisation was to take away their power to favour or hinder opportunities for self-aggrandisement, the patwaris do have motive to resist the new system. A thorough inquiry, therefore, is in order to establish the real reason behind the inaccuracies.

The provincial revenue department must determine the extent of the wrong and missing entries and fix responsibility. There is no need to go into a denial mode. Since this was a difficult first exercise of its nature, problems could arise. Whosoever is at fault ought to be identified and held to account.

The example though must not be used by other provinces not to modernise their respective land records. They need to undertake similar exercises learning from Punjab’s experience to avoid the faults bedevilling its LRMIS project to ensure precision and transparency in their respective land record systems.

Source: Business Recorder