Agriculture World

Maharashtra to use Drones to Undertake ‘Biggest’ Land Survey Exercise

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Maharashtra will be using drones to undertake the “biggest” land survey exercise in the modern India, as the administration intends to give ownership rights to around 15 million rural households in the State, according to a senior official.

Director of land records in Maharashtra, S Chockalingam said starting on 1st June, a number of drones mounted with high-resolution cameras will examine the populated areas of 40,000 villages in the State.

He said the exercise is likely to be completed in 3 years. 

Speaking to Thomson Reuters Foundation, he said “The villagers have been paying taxes on the land they inhabit, but had no titles because the land had never been surveyed.”

Chockalingam further told that “It is the biggest survey exercise in the modern India that will provide the villagers security of tenure.”

He also said while agricultural land in the country were surveyed in the British colonial era, the areas where houses are built in the villages generally measuring no more than 0.5 square kilometer were considered as wasteland and hardly ever surveyed. 

It must be noted that villages with over 2,000 people were usually surveyed in the country.

Chockalingam said only 3,000 villages in Maharashtra had been surveyed in more than 70 years of country’s independence.

After a pilot survey in 2018, Maharashtra had issued almost 400 title deeds in a month, using the village’s tax records for authentication. He added that “With the use of drones, we will be able to cut down the time taken to survey drastically. What might have taken 30 years, now will be done in 3 years.”

In 2008, the country undertook a huge land record modernization programme that was aimed at surveying lands, establishing ownership and upgrading records.

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He said in Maharashtra, the process of digitizing of about 270 million land records is almost complete adding that with the village lands survey, State government will have a better idea of any unused land.

“These villages are not seeing development, as people are migrating to big cities for jobs,” he told.

Amy Coughenour, head of the Cadasta Foundation that develops digital tools to document and analyse land & resource rights information said governments must acknowledge efforts by communities to accumulate data on land ownership.

He said this could help bridge government gaps in data and also make initiatives to improve land rights more transparent.

It must be noted that Cadasta is not involved in Maharashtra's programme, but has helped Odisha in mapping its slums to give rights to residents.



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