Karnataka’s move to digitise property records from 1865 hits a hurdle

Department of Stamps and Registration will be digitising property registration papers that are as old as 1865, however, the multi-lingual usage in property deeds back in those days is set to be a

Published: 13th July 2018 03:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2018 03:28 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Department of Stamps and Registration will be digitising property registration papers that are as old as 1865, however, the multi-lingual usage in property deeds back in those days is set to be a major challenge for authorities. Written scripts in languages including old Kannada, Marathi, Urdu and Telugu have to be converted into digital text.At present, property registration documents from 2004 have been digitised. The department will be undertaking the mammoth exercise of digitising records from 1865 to 2004 — property records of more than 140 years. 

In February 2018, former Chief Minister Siddaramiah had announced the same. He had proposed to launch Sukshma Rakshana Abhilekagalu (Surabhi), a project to digitise heritage/legacy records in a phased manner and had allocated `25 crore for this. The project will now be entrusted to Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).In Karnataka, the property registration have been digitised from 2005. Since then, every year, on an average 15 lakh property registrations, including sale deeds, are scanned and digitised. 

Dr K V Thrilok Chandra, Inspector General of Registration and Commissioner of Stamps, said using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) legacy records that are more that a century old can be digitised. But the challenge is this: In Karnataka, property registration documents are in various languages. For instance in old Mysuru region, it is Kannada and Halegannada (old Kannada); in Hyderbad-Karnataka region, it is Urdu; in Belagavi and its surrounding region, these are in Marathi; in regions closer to Andhra, it is Telugu; while several documents are also in Tamil.

“This will be the most challenging for us. We have involved C-DAC who has assured they can digitise and convert written script of various languages into text format. OCR will allow to convert it into text format in the same language as that is in written document,’’ he said.This is expected to reduce the burden on the authorities who have to search old records manually to prepare encumbrance certificates (ECs) which are used in property transactions as evidence of free title or ownership. “Once all the documents are digitised, authorities concerned can issue EC by looking into digitised documents,’’ Chandra said.

‘Can help in  study of history’
Historian Suresh Moona said this initiative of digitising property records would help in finding missing links in history, too. The legacy records have certain dates and periods which will be mentioned and might serve in research. Referring to 1865 records, Moona said between 1831 and 1881, there were British Commissioners. Britishers were known to have a systematic administration.  “Lewin Bentham Bowring was a Commissioner of Mysuru State. He was the one who initiated bringing all government offices under one roof, he constructed Ataara Kacheri  which means 18 offices (the present High Court Building) in 1864 and completed it in 1868. This means, the oldest records available with the state government is 1865,’’ he said.

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