Hyderabad: Corruption is rampant in Telangana. The newest state of India is the second most corrupt state in the country as per the CMS-India Corruption Survey 2018, the first being the state of Tamil Nadu. Of all the departments, the revenue department stands out, as acknowledged by none other than chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao himself, stands out as nest of vipers.
The Mandal revenue office is the point of origin of all corrupt and illegal practices as it is directly connected to day to day life of people.From caste certificates to pattadar passbooks, people have to move around MRO office where, according to general perception, nothing runs without price.
Given the real estate boom across the state, the MRO now commands enormous clout. The wealth amassed by K Lavanya, MRO, Keshampet, who was caught by ACB some time back, speaks volumes of the sorry state of affairs in Telangana.
Many of the clashes between officials and people in rural areas boil down to land disputes. Take the case of Sarsala of Sirpur-Kagaznagar district, where people, who lost land for Harithaharam, attacked an overzealous woman forest official.
The official backed by a huge posse of police and forest forces evacuated the people from their lands which they had been cultivating for ages, and some are patta lands.
The decision of the government robbed the people of their livelihood rights. So, the desperate people revolted and tried to attack the woman forest official.Though the official is only acting on instructions of the government, in the eyes of the people, she is the visible representation of unseen government.
So the illiterate people almost thrashed her with sticks. They were least bothered about legal options available to get their grievances addressed leisurely.
The burning alive of Abdullahpurmet MRO Vijaya Reddy, whatever might be the provocation, is highly deplorable. Public grievances are not supposed to take the form of lawlessness. The incident, however, shows the revenue administration, which is under the direct control of the chief minister, in a bad light. Because, a young and promising revenue officer, fell victim to the combination of evil forces, namely political interference, corruption and cumbersome Land Records Updation Program (LRUP).
Though aimed at reforming an antiquated land administration, the LRUP has thrown up more challenges than solutions. It shattered the lives of lakhs of people with a mouse click in the MRO office.
There is a class of farmers called ‘protected tenants’ in Telangana. As per the Telangana Tenancy Act 1950, these farmers were given permanent tenancy rights. The right would preclude even the landlord from selling the land to any third party. If the land is in excess of the ceiling under the Act, the tenant farmer is eligible for ownership rights. According to some sources, the person who committed the gruesome murder of MRO is a tenant farmer.
Many influential and land mafia use their connections to get these lands recorded on their name in Record of Rights (ROR) without the knowledge of tenant farmers. Scores of protected tenants have fallen victims to this type of record tampering, and the possession of the passbook does not offer them any protection. The tampering of ROR takes place at the level of MRO.
In some cases, farmers were denied passbooks despite the fact that they are the legal owners of the land in question. In other cases, passbooks are issued only for half of the land instead of full. The remaining area, it is often alleged, would be recorded under the name of the third party at the MRO level.
There were instances where the officials committed mistakes in passbooks and farmers, finding it difficult to get them rectified. Some time back, a farmer had to attempt self- immolation to draw official attention to the wrong entries made in his passbook. When they could not settle the dispute, the officials simply incorporate the land in Class-B, which means land under dispute and wash off their hands.
Political parties allege the LRUP has come a boon for ruling party leaders and influential in usurping the lands of the poor.
There is utter chaos in the revenue department with regard to land disputes. The Abullahpurmet gruesome killing might have been triggered by any of the above-mentioned omission and commissions in the implementation of the well-intentioned LRUP.