Imagine! before even purchasing a piece of land, you have immediate access to its complete history of ownership changes, including the number of times it has been divided, the number of new owners who have joined, the number of shares currently remaining, and the number of shares that have been newly mutated in the latest survey in the online. Additionally, you have the ability to authenticate the seller's claim of ownership by utilizing their National Identification (NID) number.
Upon purchasing and registering the land, land mutation, holding creation for land development taxes, and single owner-based Khatian (Record of Right) and Mouzamap (Holding Map) are automatically generated without any interruption! Furthermore, a single certificate of ownership for the purchased land would suffice as evidence of ownership!
Who would have thought that what was once a far-fetched idea or a pipe dream is now a reality? The Ministry of Land is making headway in implementing a smart system on a unified platform (land.gov.bd). The first phase of Smart Land Management is going to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, and it includes Registration-Mutation Interconnection, Smart Land Noksha (Map), Smart Land Record, and Smart Bhumi Pedia (Land-Pedia), along with three other initiatives. This will mark the beginning of a new deal in the land services.
The implementation of a smart land system across the country would greatly benefit citizens by eliminating the need to visit land offices unless absolutely necessary. Digital surveys completed in specific areas would remove the need for future surveys, ultimately resulting in a substantial reduction in land lawsuits and boundary disputes. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership in ensuring efficient and effective management of the smart land system would secure just rights to land - a fundamental cornerstone of the lives and livelihoods of the people of Bangla.
Since his youth, Bangabandhu had envisioned just land management. On August 12, 1948, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a member of the then Bengal Provincial League Council and a leader of the State Language Movement of East Pakistan, vehemently criticized the then National Cabinet of Pakistan for failing to fully implement their promise to abolish the Zamindari system. On Pakistan's first independence anniversary, Bangabandhu stated to the daily Ittehad that the government had suspended the complete abolition of the Zamindari system for eight years in the name of a new survey, further exacerbating the hardships of the destitute.
In 1954, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, presented a program during the East Bengal provincial elections in the second of 21 points announced by the United Front. This program aimed to distribute surplus land among landless peasants by revoking the rights of zamindaris and rent collectors without compensation. In 1956, during the then Pakistan's Constituent Assembly, Bangabandhu passionately advocated for the land rights of common people across the country.
After independence, Bangabandhu took a comprehensive three-pronged approach towards land reform in Bangladesh, comprising law and rule, policy, and administrative reforms. As the first land reformer of independent Bangla, he prioritized the waiving of rent for up to 25 bighas of land in the first agenda of Bangladesh's first cabinet meeting on January 13, 1972, shortly after his return to the country on January 10. He also issued an order setting the maximum ownership of land at the family level to 100 bighas. Meanwhile, the Government of Pakistan canceled 60 lakh certificate cases filed against the country's impoverished farmers, relieving them of a debt burden of around Tk 36 crore at the time.
Sheikh Hasina, like her father, has a deep understanding of the land and people of Bangladesh. As the current leader of the country, she is dedicated to improving the quality of life of its citizens by making proper and maximum use of the land. One of the key achievements in modern land management has been the National Land Use Policy, formulated by her in 2001, which covers 28 fundamental issues. In 2009, she included land management in the master plan to build a Digital Bangladesh. During her visit to the Ministry of Land on September 18, 2014, she issued 31 specific directives that were a major milestone in the development of pro-people land management.
The Ministry of Land has already taken multi-faceted digital steps to fulfill the dream of making land services accessible to common people. Notable among these are e-Mutation, Digital Land Development tax, 16122 Call Center, Land Service through Social Media and Kiosks, Digital Survey, Online Application of Jalmahal, Land Data Bank, Mortgage Data Bank. The Ministry of Land has played a leading role in realizing the goal of Digital Bangladesh through these various initiatives.
Ministry of Land has been awarded the United Nations Public Service Award 2020 for its e-Mutation initiative; WSIS Award 2022 and Digital Bangladesh Award 2022 for Digital Land Development tax; and Bangabandhu Public Administration Medal 2022 for Land Data Bank.
The Ministry of Land is placing significant emphasis on the establishment of sustainable land management practices through the introduction of digital services, the amendment of existing laws and regulations, and the drafting of new laws where necessary. In line with this, the Haat and Bazar (Establishment and Management) Act of 2023 has been enacted. Additionally, the ministry is working on several new laws, including the Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, Land Ownership and Uses Act, Land Reforms Act, Land Development Tax Act, and the Land Use Rights Acquisition Act.
The Ministry of Land has also taken initiatives to reform the infrastructure by setting up Bhumi Bhaban, Upazila, and Union Land Offices. Along with the five initiatives mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate the Smart Land Service Center, (which is part of the multi-channel-based citizen service (customer service) system of the Ministry of Land) and 400 Union Land Offices.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set a goal to build a smart Bangladesh following the success of the Digital Bangladesh initiative. The Ministry of Land is working towards a smart plan for land management under the Prime Minister's guidance, aiming to ensure efficient land utilization and land-related services for the people. Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury is leading the effort, while Land Secretary Md Mustafizur Rahman PAA and his team are implementing the government's plans through the adoption of New Public Management at the institutional level.
In a departure from the traditional government system, the drive to modernize land management is being coordinated through the "Digitization, Knowledge Management, and Performance" wing, which operates under the concept of an "Open Space Office." This approach allows any public officers to contribute their ideas towards the initiative. For the first time in the country's history, the National Land Conference is being organized to generate ideas and decide the next action plan.
Efficient land management plays a critical role in addressing the climate crisis. Bangladesh, despite being a significant victim of climate change, is setting a unique example of achieving higher growth through the optimal use of land. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formulated Vision 2041 and Delta Plan 2100 to take this journey to new heights. By building Sheikh Hasina's Smart Bangladesh, the Ministry of Land will move forward with conviction in fulfilling the responsibilities assigned to it in the implementation of these future plans.
(The writer is Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Land)
Source: Sun Editorial