LAHORE: Details of properties in 2,300 villages out of 2,500 villages in the province have been computerised under the Land Record Management Information System (LRMIS). “We found more than 4.7 million existing errors in land documentation during this process,” LRMIS Deputy Director Maqbool Ahmed Dhawla said on Sunday.
He said LRMIS centres across the province have been facilitating millions of people in obtaining ownership and transfer deeds and various other property documents.
Punjab covered 205,345 square kilometres and was the most densely populated province of Pakistan, he said. There was an urgent need to collate data on property and land especially for use by the Finance Department, the judiciary, international lenders, various NGOs and development agencies who required accurate data for planning purposes, he said.
“The new system will help us end land disputes, do away with unnecessary litigation, corruption and irregularities in matters of immovable properties...moreover, it will help us end the infamous patwari culture,” Dhawla said.
Recently, some representatives of the World Bank visited another province to go over their LRMIS. “They told us that the LRMIS in the Punjab was far superior in terms of how it had been conducted.”
He said there was no room for corruption under the LRMIS. The previous system of recording property details was handled manually. “There was room to falsify data...as a result of which we had to deal with rampant land grab and a land mafia.”
As a result, there were property disputes across the province, much bloodshed, and a lot of unnecessary money and time wasted in drawn out litigation, Dhawla said.
The LRMIS has made it much easier for property owners to obtain information about their immovable properties, the deputy director said. The system is operational in all tehsils of the province.
He said it now took 30 minutes to obtain proprietary deeds and the process of transfer of property could be now completed in 50 minutes.
“It took 8,000 patwaris to keep land records in the province. The job is now being carried out by 3,000 officials at service centres across the Punjab.” He said the LRMIS carried records of land owned by 20 million land owners.
“If the patwar khana was truly helpful, there would have been no reason to overturn the system and computerise it.”
The computerisation of land records had given the people of Punjab an indispensible facility, he said. “It has cost billions to put up but it will provide much relief to those land owners who have hitherto been preyed on by powerful land mafia.”
He said an online monitoring dashboard system had been introduced to keep a check on officials handling land records.
There is no room for corrupt or inefficient staff in this project, he said. “In case of a complaint, we will carry out departmental action and can refer them to the anti-corruption establishment.”
Dhawla said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif would soon announce an autonomous and independent authority to oversee the implementation of the project in the future. He said the final recommendations would be presented after evolving a comprehensive framework for the computerisation of urban land records.
He said the chief minister had also approved the recruitment of more staff for the project. The fee for getting a proprietary deed was Rs150. “Earlier, people would have to pay thousands for this service.” He said that overseas Pakistanis could also get information about their land through the system.
He said that the project had been completed at a cost of Rs12 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2016.
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