As ministers tour state, revenue officials pay for their biryanis from own pocket

Hyderabad: Lavish arrangements during official trips of ministers and ruling party MLAs have become a huge financial burden on Telangana revenue department officials.

Every month, several ministers and lawmakers visit villages across the state to attend events like distribution of cheques under Kalyana Laxmi, Shaadi Mubarak, Asara pension schemes. To facilitate the visits, the revenue department has been making arrangements towards meeting, food and transport.

The protocol has become an unbearable burden, said an anguished revenue official. “We have to make arrangements for breakfast, mutton biryani or mutton bagara for lunch and dinner with chicken items. Sometimes, we have to bear the transport expenditure for their followers as well. There is no funding support from the government. We have to bear the expenditure from our own pocket,” said the official.

Tehsildars are a worried lot as they have to take care of the official functions of ministers and MLAs right from Mandal level. Sources said a majority of Tehsildars are spending their own money, while some are relegating the burden to village revenue officials.

“In their attempt to please the ministers, revenue officials are collecting money from the public. Some are collecting money from public ten times more than what they spend during functions such as Kalyana Laxmi and Assara cheque distribution. The whole thing has become a source of revenue for some revenue staffer,” said another official.

On many occasions, a Tehsildar said, ministers visit Mandals twice a week. “We have to make seating arrangements for the public in addition to providing water and biscuits. For ministers, MLAs and their followers, we have to arrange for non-vegetarian lunch and dinner. Ministers are least bothered about how we can make such grand arrangements. We don’t get a rupee from the government. Moreover, ministers openly ask the public whether they paid any amount to officials.”

The Tehsildar said they also have to give money to the gunmen of MLAs and ministers. “The government does not pay for maintaining ‘protocol’ during the official visits of ministers and MLAs. Earlier, we had sent bills about expenditure on formal meetings and protocol but never received any amount. On average, we spend Rs 25,000-50,000 for each conference at Mandal and district level, and Rs 10,000 at the village level. The situation of revenue officials in religious places is pathetic as they have to handle much more official trips,” he said.

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