Sunday, November 25, 2007

BBMP staff, touts fleece citizens

BBMP staff, touts fleece citizens
N D Shiva Kumar & Chandrashekar G | TNN

Bangalore: The BBMP’s muchpublicised regu l a r i z at i o n scheme, Sakrama 2007, has come as a blessing for the BBMP officials, touts and private engineers. They’re taking citizens, who are eager to regularize unauthorised plots and constructions, for a ride.
Since the 13-page Sakrama form is difficult for the common man, and as the BBMP’s hotlines and officials are of little help, citizens have been forced to play into the hands of touts. Not letting go of this, BBMP’s Class IV employees, touts and private engineers are offering to fill up the form for a sum. To fill up the form, BBMP employees and touts charge Rs 500, while private engineers charge Rs 750 to Rs 1,000. The BBMP’s revenue and engineering department officials have given these touts a free run of the offices, comfort in the knowledge that they get a neat sum as their commission.
To get a built-up structure regularized, the owner has to take an engineer to the spot to assess deviations and fill up the form. The charges vary from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. Only engineers and architects listed with BBMP can fill up the form and assess the property. But on Ground Zero, engineers not empanelled with BBMP are also
assessing the properties for a sum.
To examine the rot that’s sinking Sakrama 2007 into a morass of corruption, The Times of India correspondents bought a form from a post office and visited three BBMP zonal offices at Byatarayanapura, Yelahanka and Dasarahalli. The result: bribe can set right any deviation, no questions asked. SAKRAMA SCHEME BBMP, touts hand in glove
Bangalore: When the BBMP unveiled Sakrama 2007 recently, it was projected as a benevolent scheme to help citizens regularize their unauthorized plots and structures. But little did the BBMP foresee that a nexus of its officials, touts and private engineers would start fleecing hapless citizens.
The reason is not too far to seek: the seemingly technical Sakrama form intimidates the citizens, who rush to middlemen to get the regularization done. In the process, the citizen would have been poorer by a few thousands of rupees.
To measure the depths of nexus, TOI
correspondents bought a Sakrama form and visited three zonal offices of the BBMP at Byatarayanapura, Yelahanka and Dasarahalli (erstwhile city municipal council offices) for help. Here’s our experience:
1. BBMP office, Byatarayanapura: Seeing the Sakrama form, peon Rajanna walked up to us and asked, “It’s tough to fill it up. We’ll do it for you.’’ We’re taken to Ashwath Reddy, a revenue officer. We told him ours is a 30x40 plot. Reddy wrote the amount we need to pay to the government and asked us to return with a copy of the sale deed and tax-paid receipts. Fee: Rs 500.
2. Byatarayanapura Technical Division and Citizen Service Centre: Walish, a tout, offered help: “If you make a mistake, they may reject your application. I charge Rs 500, while my boss charges Rs 1,000.’’ He explained how he secured his place in the BBMP office: “Sir, we pay the manager and tax inspector daily. Of the Rs 500 we earn, we give Rs 100 each to the manager and tax inspector.’’
3. BBMP office, Yelahanka: We approached the assistant revenue officer. He was busy. His aide motioned us into next chamber. Two BBMP bill collectors referred us to Madhu. He gave us his cellphone number and asked us to meet him with the copy of the sale deed of the property. Fee: Rs 500.
4. BBMP office, Dasarahalli: Employees referred us to civil engineer Ashwathanarayana. “He is an expert and knows the rules well,’’ said an employee.
QUOTE, UNQUO TE An officer in BBMPRajarajeshwari says:
Tax inspectors, bill collectors and revenue department attendants take active interest in ‘helping’ citizens fill up the Sakrama forms. Fee: Rs 500. In case of buildings, only civil engineers are competent to fill up the forms. Citizens seeking help are directed to a private engineer or an architect. BBMP engineers aren’t authorized to fill up such forms.
Upendra S of Govindapura:
Touts pounce on us the moment we enter with Sakrama forms. I was shocked when a tout demanded Rs 3,000. He said the forms may be rejected if it’s not filled by a competent person!
V Arun of Byatarayanapura:
Sakrama forms are confusing and we can’t fill it on our own. Touts volunteer to get the property regularized in two days. They target mostly those who don’t know Kannada.
Ashwathnarayana, a civil engineer, says: “I’ve been flooded with Sakrama forms. To fill details on a vacant site, I charge Rs 750. For inspecting a building to assess the deviation and to draw building plan, location plan and site plan, I charge Rs 1,500. I’m a private engineer and I haven’t enrolled with BBMP.’’

Officials have been barred from filling up the Sakrama forms. If BBMP officials are found filling the forms for money, action would be taken. Only engineers and architects are competent enough to fill up forms. S Subramanya | BBMP COMMISSIONER

At the request of TOI correspondent, a bill collector at the BBMP office in Yelahanka calculating the fee to regularise a vacant site


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