HYDERABAD: At a time when the state government is eyeing prime government land as a revenue-generating resource, it has been revealed that lakhs of land records are missing! Officials of the revenue department fear that tens of thousands of acres of expensive government land has fallen victim to encroachers and the government is left with no easy way to identify the losses.
For instance, as much as 20,000 acres of government land is in the clutches of land grabbers or caught in legal wrangles (with rival claims of ownership) in just Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts. In the absence of proper land records, the government is finding it difficult to resume these prime land parcels.
The missing documents include village maps, Field Measurement Books (FMB) or Tippons and Sethwars, which are considered the original, parent records as they provide classification of the land, extent and pattadar names. The fact that the records are missing came to the notice of the authorities during scanning and digitization of land records in the 10 districts.
Officials now fear that unscrupulous elements, taking advantage of the chaos during the agitation for separate Telangana, may have either stolen or destroyed a majority of such 'missing' documents.
"Some influential persons and land grabbers have either damaged or taken away the revenue records as it would expose land encroachments. This has been happening for the past few years as the land rates are skyrocketing even in districts such as Karimnagar. The land records in Telangana were prepared in single copies, while three copies of maps and documents are available in residuary AP. With only one copy, it is easy to manipulate land records," a senior land survey official told TOI.
Official sources said that of the total 11,212 villages in Telangana, 795 village maps are missing. These maps are vital for identification of village boundaries and provide an idea about water bodies and government land parcels.
The highest number of village maps, 177, were found missing in Medak district, followed by 159 maps in Karimnagar district. While nine old revenue village maps were found missing in Hyderabad, 125 maps were untraced in the surrounding Ranga Reddy district.
Another important revenue record is Field Measurement Books (FMB), otherwise known as Tippons in Telangana. They provide crucial information as it is a sketch or plan of a survey number. The maps are tied in the form of a book.
Of 41,42,472 measurement books, only 31,84,284 are available with the revenue department and 9,48,188 were untraceable. Of these, 1,48,602 in Ranga Reddy district and 458 in Hyderabad are missing. The highest number of lost FMBs was in Karimnagar district, with 1.63 lakh books missing.
Meanwhile, of the total 11,212 Sethwars, only 7,883 are available and 3,329 are missing.
The revenue department, which submitted details of the missing land records to the assembly, claimed that many missing documents are nearly 75 years old. A majority of those available are torn or are in a brittle condition due to continuous handling and ageing.
Officials of the Survey Settlement and Land Records said the scanning and digitization of revenue records (Bhumiti) has been going on in all the districts and 80% of the work has been completed. "Except in Hyderabad core city, where Town Survey and Land Records (TSLR) exercise was done in the late 1970s
, the land details in Telangana districts are not clear. Now the state government is proposing National Land Records Modernization Programme with central assistance, which will help in preserving the existing records but not the lost ones," an assistant director of Survey Settlement and Land Records said.
Where have they gone?
* Village maps: Of 11,212 villages, 795 village maps missing
* Field Measurement Books or Tippons: Of 41,42,472 books, 9,48,188 untraceable
* Sethwars: Of the total 11,212, 3,329 are missing