Computerised land management system in Dhaka
Recently a computerised land management system (CLMS) has been introduced in Bangladesh through the implementation of a pilot project in Demra circle of the capital Dhaka. The system is being considered as an important milestone in the field of land related computerised public information service system.
The public authorities concerned say this system will provide citizens with current and accurate information about land administration of the project area. They believe, new computerised system will reduce increasing number of civil litigation and scope of forging document and help ensure regular tax collection. In fact, many social unrests and crimes have their root in land related disputes.
This project has been implemented at such a time when land related civil litigations and their efficient management have become a real challenge for the government. After the partition of 1947, Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) started with a population of 30 million; however, today it is a nation of around 140 million people.
Due to the fact that Bangladesh is a small country with a very high density of population where the economy is also largely based on agriculture, land related disputes form the major part of all civil litigations. One main reason behind gradual increase in the number of land related civil litigation is that there is no modern record keeping and data retrieval system. This results in loss of huge revenue and many unwanted confusion in transfer of landed property from one hand to another.
In this situation, the CLMS of Demra can be proved to be extremely useful in civil case handling in the lower courts of Bangladesh. In fact the Demra project was undertaken to strengthen the capacity of A/C land offices so that land related suits could be managed in a very efficient way. 'The system will provide land verification certificates before purchase of land. There will be rapid update of land record and resolution of mutation cases as well as continuous update of land use change and tax. Printed records will also be available to the public.' This has set a good example of improved information service for the people concerned. Lack of reliable information is a major weakness in Bangladesh's land administration system. In many cases, this is the main reason for over-sale and over-registration of a single landed property which ultimately promote litigations.
Currently, there are 3.2 million land dispute cases pending in the courts. If the project runs according to plan, it is expected that this will reduce land related conflict in the society, minimise litigation cost and expedite litigation procedure dramatically.
Another aspect of this project is that, CLMS will transform employee-dependant land management into a modern management in order to determine land tax appropriately. The information system will classify lands according to their use and set appropriate tax according to government rule. Under this new system, land revenue will be collected from the land owners in scheduled time and such information will also be provided to them so that illegal land registration could be prevented. After all, the new system would reduce public sufferings, increase revenue earnings, cut down conflicts and protect government interest. Therefore, this project model is being extended to other four circles of the City.
Demra CLMS is a dream project, which has introduced a modern IT based land related information and document management system. If the same model could be implemented for entire land administration and civil case management system in the district courts, number of civil litigation would reduce dramatically.
The author is an Assistant Secretary, Legislative Drafting Wing, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.