Delay in e-payment tie-up with banks, political pressure blamed

Delay in tying up with banks in setting up e-payment facility and political pressure are holding up the full-scale launch of online property registration after the State has leaped over technology hurdles in launching the IT-enabled service, once slated for launch early this year.

Registration Department sources told The Hindu that traditional document writers were punching above their weight in successfully delaying the launch of the service while some other States had made much progress on the project.

“In some States decisions are taken at 10 a.m. and implemented at 10.15 a.m.,” they said referring to one of Kerala’s neighbouring States where property data are available online. “But coalition politics here brings about its own share of pressure against implementing decisions,” they said.

Minister for Registration Anoop Jacob could not be reached for his comments on the delay in launch of the service. Concerted action by traditional document writers is what has made the department delay the launch of the service, sources said.

The Registration Department is running experimental scale facility in some offices of the Sub-Registrar in Thiruvananthapuram. “Application for Encumbrance Certificates can now be submitted online though payments cannot be made online,” said an official.

Though only pilot-scale facilities were on now, the department was ready to launch the service anytime, said the official while admitting that e-payment tie-ups were yet to be finalised. “But this is not a matter that will hold up the service for long. Discussions are on with banks, which have wide networks even in rural areas, to finalise the payment setup.”

Only the introduction of facility for e-payment would make electronic transactions complete, said the official. Institutions involved in the e-payment network had to be chosen carefully to ensure that there was adequate access to the proposed facility for people even in rural areas, the official added.

The official said facility for submitting online applications for Encumbrance Certificates were available at 41 offices now. It will be scaled up to 100 within a month and later spread to all the 311 offices of Sub-Registrar across the State.

Meanwhile, the department has come to grips with the massive volume of data and security for the data that will be made available to the public via the new facility. An official involved with the technology part of the exercise said that going fully online would require about 10 GB of server space on an average for each of the 311 offices. Each of the offices register an average of 400 documents a day.

The Registration Department now uses servers run by National Informatics Centre, which is providing the technology support for the national-level programme of going online with registrations.

Once all documents are uploaded and transactions go fully online, people will be able to access documents sitting in any part of the world. “We have taken good care of the security aspect of the data too,” said an official about the massive task involved in ensuring that the facility was not misused or hacked into.

This ensures that the traditional document writers have a role to play in the new system too. Documents are being uploaded using the licence number of the document writers to ensure that the system is not abused and the security is not breached.

Future security features will include digital signatures, e-stamping and e-payment.

The official said most of the offices of the Sub-Registrar have started uploading scanned versions of property documents from 1992. The documents will be available in PDF Format. Data on new registrations are being uploaded almost real time now.

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