Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday promised State Governments that they would soon get some flexibility in spending the funds allocated by the Centre towards the National Land Records Modernisation Programme (NLRMP).

He was addressing the State Revenue Ministers Conference on Modernisation of Land Records.

“What we have found is that we released Rs 690 crore over four years to the State Governments under NLRMP. But there has hardly been any utilisation. So, we are re-looking at the programmes so that the States would be able to spend the money better,” Ramesh said, adding that the Ministry has made some recommendations for giving States more flexibility in spending.

He added that detailed guidelines will be issued soon.

The Minister said that a lot of the money released is earmarked for surveys, which are time consuming and the States are finding it difficult to conduct them.

A chunk of the allocations made by the Centre towards the NLRMP — which aims at computerisation of property records, survey and preparation of maps, computerisation of the registration process and training and capacity building — have remained unused.

Starting 2008-09 till 2012-13, the Central Government released Rs 690.43 crore for modernisation of land records, of which Rs 589 crore have remained unspent.

Nineteen of the 36 States and Union Territories, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, have not utilised the allocated money at all.

The Minister also called for establishing ‘fast track’ courts to settle issues of land rights for tribals in the country.

The Minister also called for a comprehensive survey to ascertain what happened to the five million hectares of land donated under Bhoodan. Reportedly, of this land only 2.5 million hectares have been distributed to the poor till date.

(This article was published on September 21, 2012)
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