In what he said was his contribution to the war against corruption, Namakkal District Magistrate U. Sagayam, has done what few civil servants would dare, declare his assets.

Much to the discomfort of many of his colleagues, Mr. Sagayam has announced on the district website that he has a bank balance of Rs.7,172 and a house in Madurai valued at Rs.900,000.

“This is nothing great as every civil servant has to submit his asset details to the government. I have just made it public,” Mr. Sagayam told IANS over telephone from Namakkal.

“The public perception of civil servants is very bad now. This is not good for civil society in the long run. I feel corruption is the major stumbling block for the country’s progress. I want to be myself,” Mr. Sagayam, 45, said.

Born into a family of farmers in Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Sagayam is the first to obtain a Masters degree in social work and as well as in law from the University of Madras.

He joined the Tamil Nadu Civil Services 18 years ago. He was conferred the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) status in 2001.

Mr. Sagayam is know for the battles he had fought against the sand mining mafia, soft drink manufacturing multinational corporations (MNC), hotels, gas dealers and others. He was severely assaulted when he tried to prevent illegal mining in Kanchipuram district. He was in the spotlight in 1999 when he ordered a soft drink multinational to close their plant because they were bottling drinks that were unfit for human consumption. The order was overruled by the Madras High Court.

When Mr. Sagayam was Deputy Commissioner of civil supplies, he raided hotels that were using cooking gas meant for domestic use and not the more expensive commercial cylinders. “In my estimate the loss to the oil companies is to the tune of around Rs.4,000 crore,” he said. A report was sent to the government on the issue.

Sagayam is also credited with recovering prime land worth over Rs. 200 crore encroached by a leading hotel chain. This happened when he was the district revenue officer.

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