New Delhi/Ranchi, Sept. 20: Land reforms and revenue minister Mathura Prasad Mahto today accused Bihar government of not handing over 82,000 land maps of 32,615 villages in Jharkhand even though the new state was carved out in 2000.
At the state revenue ministers’ conference titled Modernisation of Land Records, Mahto, in the presence of Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh, said Jharkhand had taken up the issue with Bihar many times earlier.
“I request the department of land resources under Union ministry of rural development to mount pressure on Bihar for an early solution. This issue has been dragging on for 12 years. Our chief minister has written to his Bihar counterpart for the 82,000 land maps of villages that now belong to Jharkhand, but in vain. I don’t know why the delay,” Mahto told The Telegraph later.
Bihar Reorganisation Act (2000), section 42, empowers Jharkhand to take original records and maps. But successive reminders made no dent on Bihar’s determined amnesia.
Without maps, Jharkhand can’t modernise land records under the Centre’s National Land Record Modernisation Programme, where states get funds to digitise land records and survey or resurvey any area using GPS, aerial photography and satellite imagery.
“Without maps, those particular records can’t be digitised and areas can’t be surveyed,” explained Mahto, who travelled to Patna last year and held a meeting with his Bihar counterpart Ramai Ram in a futile bid to settle the issue. The Bihar minister was not present at today’s conference.
Those in the know say the land maps are gathering dust at Gulzarbag Printing Press, Patna. Apart from official difficulties cited by Mahto, the lack of maps gives the land mafia a free run.
Hassled bureaucrats know it best.
“The maps are our reference when we examine boundaries of encroached land. Lack of original maps of 32,615 revenue villages hampers administration,” said special secretary, land reforms and revenue department A.K. Rastogi.