As part of digitising the country's land management, some 65 lakh bhumi khatians (records of land rights) have been scanned and indexed into a computerised system.
Under the 'Digital Land Management' project that ended in June last beginning in July 2011, the scanning and indexing of 18,500 map-sheets have also been completed, according to an official document.
The government had taken the project to remove hassles and complexities in land registration, transfer and land-related issues. "We've completed the mammoth task and this will give the country's land management system a big leap," a senior land ministry official told the news agency.
The official document says the refurbishment job, including civil and electrical, of 53 district and upazila offices under the project has already been completed. Furniture have been procured for these offices while fire distinguishing equipment installed.
Necessary civil works for constructing a central data centre in the Land Record and Survey Department has been finished and necessary equipment have been installed.
A disaster recovery centre has been installed at the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the city's Agargaon area under the management of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC).
The document also mentioned that the work on 20 upazila Land Information and Service Centres has already started and consultants have been appointed to run those.
On completion of the project, the Land Ministry has taken another project titled, 'Land Management Automation' and it was sent to the Planning Commission for approval, said the ministry official.
After having the Planning Commission's nod, the land management system of the whole country will be done in a computerised system through implementation of the project, according to another official document.
Besides, the document says, a pilot project, 'Strengthening Access to Land and Property Rights to All Citizens of Bangladesh', is going on in this regard.
Under the pilot project, AC (Land) office, sub-registry office, settlement office, and two union land offices of Monirampur upazila in Jessore district have installed 'Integrated Digital and Land Record System' software to bring the land management system under the computerised system.
Once the system is automated, landowners or buyers will not need to visit over 10 government offices for documents. All the documents will be uploaded to a database, to which the government officials and people, in some cases, will have the access.
Through this project, a plan has been taken to simplify the land management through countrywide land mutation, collection of land development tax, khas land and sairat mohal (water bodies) management, office and finance-management.
The government also has a plan to resolve the problems of land management through digital system. To this end, three projects have been taken so far.
The projects are -- Strengthening governance management project (Component- B: Digital Land Management System), Digital land record, survey and maintenance project, and National land zoning project.
Once the land digitisation projects are completed, the government officials sitting at their offices will be able to see any transformation of land, including infrastructure and ownership.
Bangladesh's land management has been divided in terms of authorisation, which remains as a problem. The Land Ministry looks after the survey and record issues, while the Law Ministry handles the registration process.
As per the National Land Zoning Project, Bangladesh has a total land surface of 12.31 million hectares, of which presently 7.85 million hectares are under agriculture. It accommodates over 152.25 million people. This amounts to an average of 27 percentile of land and 17 percentile of cultivable land per head.
Besides, due to population growth, this share of land per capita is shrinking every year making the resource base for agriculture, forest and wetlands more vulnerable and marginalised. For example, in 1983-84, there was 20.0 million acres of total cultivable land, which dropped to 17.5 million acres in 1997.
There are many driving forces compelling people in Bangladesh to overexploit the natural resources like land. The main ones are the poverty with rapid population growth, improper land use and ineffective implementation of existing laws and guidelines.
Competition for diverse uses of land resources, the tremendous increase of population, natural and manmade hazards, economic opportunities and ecological hot spots call for distinctive and sustainable land management arrangements through the development of Land Use Based Zoning in the country.
The government realises this need, and formulates more policies, strategies and planning documents making special reference to different land issues and its integrated management, the document mentions.