BBMP promises e-khata sans tears

BBMP promises e-khata sans tears

Its new digital records management system, e-Aasthi, aims to make it easy for owners to get and store their property documents. Good initiative, and make it work, say citizens’ groups

A khata counter at the BBMP office on Sampige Road, Seshadripuram. e-Aasthi is aimed at eliminating physical visits to BBMP offices. DH Photo by B K Janardhan.

With a new digital records management system, the BBMP promises to make it easier for citizens to get their property papers.

Called e-Aasthi, the system is already operational as part of a pilot in three wards---Shanthalanagar, Neelasandra and Shantinagar.

It will be extended to 100 wards within two weeks, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad told Metrolife.

Litigation is rife around property because of fraudulent documents, and the new system will fix the problem, he says.

“Citizens have a tough time getting their khata and face harassment as some BBMP officials demand bribes. This technology will help us put an end to the corruption,” explains Manjunatha Prasad.  

 Every property holder with an Aadhaar card can now get a digi locker in which digital property documents can be stored.

“You can open the locker with the help of a code given only to you. It costs just Rs 125 to get a digitised khata with a digital signature.”

“We will do away with physical signatures by BBMP officials. The digital signature is linked to the Aadhaar card of the official, so there’s no way they can cheat,” he says. This is a good move, but implementation is key, say citizens’ groups. Dr A Ravindra, former chief secretary, government of Karnataka, wonders how prepared the BBMP is in terms of the accuracy of records.

“Getting a khata also means that you will have to overrule any objections and claims on the property, and ensure that there is no ligation trailing it,” he says. 

 While the digital process may work in the case of BDA properties, agricultural land converted and used for housing may pose challenges.   Murali Govindarajalu, ward committee member, Hagaduru, Mahadevapura, says Whitefield is a neighbourhood that could pose challenges.

“It remained under a village panchayat and came into the City Municipal Council fold only in 2001. Khatas issued by the village panchayat were not automatically brought into CMC records. When the CMC was absorbed into the BBMP, the papers were again not incorporated. Digitisation of village panchayat records is important,” he says.

Assistant revenue officers who controlled village panchayat khatas would enter names in a hardbound register with an older date and issue a khata only against a bribe which went up to Rs 1 lakh for a 30x40 ft plot. Citizens have suffered badly because of the lack of transparency, Murali says.  If village land records are brought into the system, the issue of fake khatas will also come to an end, he believes.

Srinivas Alavilli of Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and co-founder, Citizens for Bengaluru, says the issue of khata has been a problem for decades.

“Digitisation will bring in transparency, but government departments must work together and not as independent entities, as they do now.”

“They must link their databases so that citizens benefit. This will eliminate ambiguity and make this system a success,” he says. Leo Saldanha coordinator, Environment Support Group, says decades of corruption in the BBMP will be wiped out if this new system is run effectively.

“Khata is a fundamental right but the BBMP has made it a nightmarish experience for citizens. It must be made simple,” he says.

Features of e-Aasthi

Digital property records can be created from the current khata database.

Covers all properties, including those inherited and gifted. 

Digitally signed records issued as and when citizens demand them.

Digi-lockers given to property owners to store their documents.

Easy access to loans as authenticity of documents is not in question.

How it is expected to work

Verification of documents is not a challenge any more.

Photo of the owner printed on the
property document so no impersonation.

Banks can lend confidently as fake documents are eliminated.

Documents can be checked quickly for authenticity as they are bar coded.

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