The crackdown on encroachers in Asola village involved a three-monthlong exercise of data collation, mapping, scrutiny of land records and comparisons with the historical evidence on land ownership in the field book. The reclamation of government land and its restoration to land-owning agencies was helped in no small measure by the “sijra” — a detailed village map used for legal and administrative purposes. In the process, the missing portions of sijra prepared in 1908 have been recreated using technology and ground matching to show every single khasra and ownership status.
“Wednesday’s action against encroachers too was based on such documentation to prevent any legal infirmities,” revealed Amjad Tak, South district magistrate. “The demarcation of the forest/ridge land was carried out using the Total Station Machine method.” The TSM method involves almost computer-accurate demarcation and mapping of land that pre-empts litigation.
Tak pointed that detailed survey maps were prepared on the specific encroachment of forest, gaon sabha and other government land in Asola. The maps have been verified by the revenue department of Delhi government. The maps show the encroachments as per field assessments in red and yellow colours.
TOI had reported earlier how due to the missing portions of the old sijra, the historical evolution and demarcation of khasras could not be determined, making the role of lower revenue officials, including the khatauni, khasra girdawari and the patwari, critical to land records. There was, therefore, the need to firm up the existing maps and to mark out each khasra to prevent unscrupulous land dealers from misusing this lacuna. Apparently, an active network of blackmailers thrives in the area with thousands of crores of rupees at stake for those who have bought land there or have their possession under scrutiny.
Adding to the land issue was the fact that an area of less than 500 metres in radius comprises a complex mix of farmhouses, roads, forest land and gram sabha land, indicating that the land mafia has been at work for years, taking advantage of the gaps in the revenue record system and the land laws of Delhi.
While the government has been striving to digitise land records, these cases of fraud focus attention on the robust khasra girdawari, a document in which the patwari enters details like the name of the plot’s owner and cultivator, land/khasra number, area, kind of land, cultivated or non-cultivated category, source of irrigation, name of crop and other minutiae. These are updated every year.