Bhoomi software upgrade project stuck over cost escalation

The Karnataka government’s move to take up the much-needed upgrade of the award-winning Bhoomi software has come to a grinding halt.

The government and the contractor – Accenture Services Pvt Ltd – have locked horns over the cost of the project –  Namma Bhoomi.

The project envisages not only upgrading the 15-year-old land records software, but integrating it with all nationalised banks and government departments, including Stamps and Registration.

The Bhoomi project was launched in 2001 for digitising land records. It enabled farmers to obtain Record of Rights, Tenancy and Crops (RTC) without much ado. It won the national e-governance award in 2005, and many states later adopted it.

Software upgrade

But this Windows-based software has since become outdated, and needs to be upgraded. Maintenance of the software is becoming increasingly difficult due to non-availability of tools. However, the software is still functioning, the sources pointed out.

The project, among others, involved creating a central database of land records in Bengaluru. For this, a backup server has to be set up. Besides, it involved incorporating security features to prevent hacking. The sources said Accenture came up with a request to increase the project cost by about Rs 10 crore after the award of the Rs 17-crore tender.

The company told the government that it would incur huge losses if the cost is not increased. But the government turned down the request. Curren­tly, the issue is before the Dis­pute Resolution Committee (DRC) headed by Additional Ch­ief Secretary K Ratna Prabha.

No provision

Special Deputy Commissioner of Bhoomi Monitoring Cell (BMC) Harish Kumar said there is no provision in the agreement to increase the project cost beyond 25%.

The company appears to have failed to properly assess the cost of work involved despite the BMC clearly spelling out all the work involved. The project, the tender for which was awarded in 2014, was scheduled to be completed in 2016. But it has not taken off yet, he added.

BMC has also informed the government that it is capable of upgrading the software in-house.

But the government will be able to take a call in this regard only after DRC takes a decision on resolving the issue, he added.

The project, once implemented, is expected to prevent fraudulent land transactions. Banks will be able to verify land record details using the upgraded software before sanctioning home loans. Similarly, the Stamps and Registration Department can examine the records before allowing registration of properties, sources in the Revenue Department said.

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