Hyderabad: K. Shankar working as a village revenue officer (under suspension) at Turka Yamjal falling under Ranga Reddy district, demanded Rs 70,000 from one Jakkidi Muthyam Reddy, a landowner, to process mutation of 1.29 acres of land and to make an entry in Pattadar passbook.
On the 3rd of October 2019, he was caught red-handed accepting the first instalment Rs 5000 of the total bribe amount. Accused Shankar was the 47th revenue employee in the Anti-Corruption-Bureau’s net, besides serving as the VRO for late Tahsildar Vijaya Reddy.
The anti-crime investigating agency has trapped 49 revenue employees in a span of 23 months, beginning from 2018. Most of the bribe -cases are booked against revenue district officers, village revenue officers and Tahsildars. Case studies revealed that bribe- ranges anywhere between Rs 2000 to Rs 4 lakh, depending on the nature of work, the extent of the land and urgency.
A majority of bribes are demanded for mutation of land, sanction for financial assistance under ‘Kalyana Laxmi’ scheme, change of name in pattadar book, online entry of agricultural land and to conduct survey of the land boundaries.
Out of the 49 trapped, the highest kickbacks were demanded by award-winning Tahsildar V. Lavanya and VRO Anthaiah.M. The duo was caught demanding Rs 4 lakh from a farmer for updating his land documents online (land measuring 9.07 acres).
ACB’s investigation revealed that many revenue employees held back passbooks of landowners. The 49th revenue employee booked by the ACB, Linga Swamy, VRO at Palitham (V) demanded Rs 8000 from the complainant to handover the passbook.
Cases studies indicate the nexus between the lower officials and the Tahsildar. The classic example is of VRO Yadagiri Thunga of Suddala village Gundala mandal. The accused was trapped while accepting a bribe of Rs 42,000. He demanded kickbacks from a complaint to process and forward files to Tahsildar’s office. Interrogation concluded that the accused was following the instructions of his seniors.
An investigating officer told NewsMeter, “The corruption in revenue department differs from the rest, the quantum of bribe demanded is high. Late Tahsildar Vijaya Reddy’s VRO was caught asking Rs 50,000. Corruption in Revenue department is affecting every landowners”.
"The staff has identified schemes like land up-gradation, Rythu Bandhu, Shadhi Mubarak as potential ways of demanding bribes," the officer added.
It is to be recalled that Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had acknowledged the corrupt practices in the revenue department. While speaking at an important meeting, the CM said, “ None except for a revenue employee, has the power to change land ownership. And this is being misused."
It is to remember that, then Chief Minister of United Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu had conducted an independent survey on corruption in the state. Revenue and electricity department topped in it. Chronic corruption has once gained blackened the face of Telangana.