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UN lab in Gurugram digitising Afghan land records

The technology, according to officials, will be ready for use by the Government of Afghanistan for state rebuilding by December this year.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 10, 2019 08:09 IST
Sonali Verma
Sonali Verma
Hindustan Times, Gururgram
UN lab gurugram,afghan land records,udyog vihar
Decades-long conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in widespread displacement of the local population, making land-grabbing a threat to their resettlement. Image used for representational purpose only.(Reuters)

To digitise land records in the war-torn cities of Afghanistan, a team of experts in the city is currently designing blockchain-based software at the Technology Innovation Lab set up by the United Nations(UN) and the government of Haryana in Udyog Vihar.

The technology, according to officials, will be ready for use by the Government of Afghanistan for state rebuilding by December this year.

Blockchain refers to a link of records created by written or generated codes that allow information to be kept a secret.

Currently, land records in Afghanistan are maintained on paper, making them prone to errors, duplication and vulnerable to disasters. By digitising these records through blockchain, the land registration system will become more transparent, reliable and easy to access, said officials working on the technology.

“Traditional paper-based land transaction records will be replaced by a distributed ledger protected by cryptography. This will increase data security and ensure authenticity of land records,” Chand Kaushil of the UN’s Office of Information and Communication Technology said, adding that the first phase of the project will be implemented in Kabul, in collaboration with the municipality.

An agreement was signed between the UN and the Government of Afghanistan for the same last week.

According to officials, Gurugram was chosen as the site for software development because of easy access to technology here and the lab’s proximity to Afghanistan. Gurugram has India’s only UN Technology Innovation Lab, which has four other labs in New York, Helsinki, Cairo and Kuala Lumpur.

After the software has been fully designed, the team of coders and developers will start producing the software and the pilot will then be tested. “Our team has collected inputs from Afghanistan on how to best develop the technology to suit the country’s needs. On-ground needs are being simulated in the lab and will help in fine tuning the technology,” said Rajive Gulati, head of the state government’s Hartron Innovation and Start-up Hub in Udyog Vihar.

Officials said that apart from maintaining land records, the blockchain technology will also be used to digitise civic services for citizens such as payment of municipal tax. “The larger aim is to rebuild the cities there and blockchain solution will improve governance and citizen representation,” Kaushil said.

The Government of Afghanistan will be briefed on how to start the process on ground as soon as the technology is developed here.

Decades-long conflict in Afghanistan had resulted in widespread displacement of the local population, making land-grabbing by disruptive forces a threat to their resettlement. More than 1.5 million Afghans are deemed to be displaced inside the country in 2017, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

Over the year, several agencies and countries, including India, have helped rebuild Afghanistan through humanitarian assistance and by facilitating economic and infrastructure development.

India has contributed towards the reconstruction of the country since 2001 by rebuilding schools, manning hospitals, beefing up transportation networks and helping its central bank stabilise the economy.

First Published: Jul 10, 2019 03:03 IST