Protests galore outside Survey Department indicates deep rot
Of all the scams that have made headlines in the last five years, a majority have been connected to land and the Revenue Department. The rot in the department was on full display on Tuesday when simultaneous protests by two conflicting groups erupted outside the Department of Survey Settlement and Land Records, which is a few hundred metres from the Vidhana Soudha.
The first involved licensed land surveyors who have not been paid their dues by the Survey Department since 2009. While their counterparts in other parts of the State stayed off work, those in the city chose a novel method to call attention to their cause — they started begging for alms outside the office of the department.
Licensed land surveyors are employed on need basis by the Survey Department, which has not hired permanent staff for decades. The protesters said the department charges Rs. 600 per plot from land owners who come to get their properties surveyed and demarcated. The licensed surveyors are paid Rs. 300. However, even this paltry sum, which was last revised in 1998, has not been paid to these people since 2009.
According to K.B. Lokesh, president of the committee formed by the affected surveyors, the department has collected nearly Rs. 100 crore from the public on behalf of the surveyors in the last three years. “But we have no received a single paise.”
Mr. Lokesh pointed out that in January 2010, when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was Leader of the Opposition, he had identified himself with the surveyors’ cause. “Now that he is Chief Minister, we want him to take up this matter with urgency,” he said.
The second agitation was by the 1,704 land surveyors who were shortlisted in May this year for permanent jobs with all government benefits. The appointment of these shortlisted candidates has been held up by the present government because of large-scale irregularities in the exam conducted for their selection. The question papers of the exam conducted on October 14, 2011 had been leaked.
However, despite inquiries pending into the matter, the government published the final list of 1,704 selected candidates on May 31, 2013. Those who have been shortlisted are quoting this list and demanding appointment.