Maharashtra using drones to map villages and towns
The Maharashtra government has launched a pilot project, to survey villages and towns in the state with the help of camera-fitted drones, a revenue department official said, on March 11, 2018. Mapping was earlier carried out manually, but the drone technology is now changing the way this massive exercise is undertaken. Once extended to other areas and completed, the process is also expected to boost revenue collection for the government.
The project was launched in Sonori village in Purandar tehsil of Pune district. “There are 43,000 gaothans (old settlements) in the state, where exact information about government-owned land, open areas and private properties is not available. It has caused inordinate delay in charging property tax, drafting village or town-centric policies and implementing changes made in land utilisation reservation,” he said. “Till date, the state machinery used to do such surveys manually, which used to be full of errors and time consuming,” the officer said.
However, deploying drones will drastically cut down on time and also bring more clarity in the exercise. “Drones will capture the entire area in a few minutes and it can be downloaded on state-provided software. It will help the revenue officials to identify the open spaces, government and private land and quickly match them with the available records. This procedure can complete the mapping of a town in two to three days, which otherwise, would have taken months,” the revenue official said.
S Tripathi, an officer of the Survey of India, Dehradun, came to Pune last week and held a meeting with district collector Sourabh Rao and other officials for starting the pilot project. Under the project, which commenced on March 5, a couple of villages have already been mapped, the official said. The Survey of India works under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
The biggest benefit of the survey is going to be in revenue collection. The existing database is not accurate. Hence, there are several properties where no revenue tax is collected. Once such properties are identified, the local government or the revenue department can start collecting tax, he said. “We have not estimated how much tax collection will go up but it will be significant for sure. Every year, the revenue department comes up with special drives, to find out non-tax paying properties and some amount is recovered. With modern and updated maps, no one can evade revenue tax,” the official said.