Maharashtra revenue department set for facelift with blockchain technology

A government office with piles of documents lying scattered and files gathering dust is a common sight.

But, the Maharashtra revenue department will not look like that in a couple of years as it is set for a transformation by adopting the blockchain technology.

This digital method of storing records in a business network will enable district collectorates to have a faster documentation process and also save cost, officials told PTI.

At the Global Fintech Fest held in Mumbai last month, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the role of governance, especially in the revenue department, is going to change forever in the next two-three years.

“The blockchain technology is going to save a lot of time of a district collector, who has to spend significant time in conducting hearings related to errors in documents. There will be no typical or conventional role left for a collector once we completely shift to the blockchain technology-based documentation, he said.

The revenue department deals with records of land, ownership/property lease, registration of sale and purchase, among others.

Citizens have been raising concerns for many years about errors in the recording of names and exact details of a property.

Human intervention has at times also led to land grabbing and fake documentation to buy or sell properties.

An additional collector-rank official said the use of computers has increased the speed of documentation and land title records are now available online, but if some changes are made (unlawfully), it is very difficult to find it and take action.

“The blockchain technology will keep the record of every document accessed by an official and changes made into it. Thus, it will check malpractices and also help to find out when changes were made and why,” he said.

The official said there are more than one crore land title documents in Maharashtra.

Such documents are frequently used by farmers to get crop loan and for other purposes.

The marriage registration process also comes under the revenue department, he noted.

The blockchain technology will reduce the burden on district collectorates significantly, he said.

“Economically, this is a win-win situation for the state,” a senior official from the revenue department said.

With the documentation process becoming error-free, it will be easier for the administration to focus on using the time effectively for governance,” he said.

It will also reduce the concerns of citizens, especially those not very educated and financially weak, about the safety of their land records and minimise tampering of documents, he said.

“It will also help in saving crores of rupees spent on the use of paper and requirement of clerical staff only for the maintenance of records, he said.

The office of Inspector General of Registration and Stamps (IGR), which registers sale, purchase or lease of properties, has already started e-registration of newly constructed properties in the state.

It is entirely based on blockchain technology and more than 450 developers have opted for this system so far, an IGR official said.

The department is one of the biggest source of revenue for the state with an annual contribution of more than Rs 45,000 crore, he said.

According to IGR Commissioner Shravan Hardikar, 28 lakh to 30 lakh property deals are registered in Maharashtra every year. Out of these, about four lakh comprise newly constructed properties and are registered with the IGR.

The IGR every year faces several complaints about errors in property registrations, like mistakes in the spellings of names and property description. Even if 20 per cent of the total property deal registrations in a year are to be corrected, it requires a lot of time of the staff,” a senior IGR official said.

The blockchain technology is expected to save this time so that the department can focus on its core work of registration and collection of stamp duty, he said.

Like the IGR, other sections of the revenue department will also shift to blockchain technology in the coming days, which will transform the functioning of the administration forever, a senior official from the revenue department said.

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