Visakhapatnam: The boom in real estate business in north Andhra region has led to heavy corruption in the stamps and registration department. As many as eight sub-registrars in the region were arrested by the ACB in the past two years and most of them were caught on the charge of possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. There is a significant rise in the number of corruption cases registered against the staff of the department in north Andhra region, which comprises Vizag, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts.
The recent arrest of Gajuwaka sub-registrar D. Venkaiah Naidu for amassing illegal assets worth Rs 100 crore has brought the corruption in the department to the spotlight. The staff demand hefty bribes to do official favour, said a senior officer with the Anti-Corruption Bureau( ACB). Though the document writers should not enter the registration offices, they have been playing the role of middlemen between the sub-registrars and the general public for registration of properties. The document writers charge 0.5 per cent on the registration value of a document from the property buyers for registration and delivering the documents and later they give the bribe amount to the registration staff, said DSP of ACB (CIU) S. Ramadevi. "If the property buyers hesitate to give the bribe, both the document writers and the registration staff deliberately delay the registration properties citing various reasons," she added.
There are many departments where corruption is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh but the employees of the registration department have more options to demand bribe compared to the other departments. People are also ready to shell out the amount and get their property documents, said DG of ACB, R.P. Thakur. In north Andhra, a majority of the registrars try to get posts in areas like Madhurawada, Bheemili and Gajuwaka in Vizag district and similarly and a few other areas in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts where more registrations take place all through the year.
The officers also pay huge amount, nearly Rs 50 lakh, to secure the posts at lucrative areas, said sources in the ACB. A few months ago, the ACB teams, from the Central Investigation Unit (CIU), unearthed disproportionate assets worth Rs 3 crore (the market value of which is estimated to cross `30 crore) amassed by sub-registrar of Bheemili, Billa Sanjeevaiah, who had worked as a sub-registrar of Madhurawda in Vizag city also.
The introduction of online services in the Road Transport Authority (RTA) department at many places in Andhra Pradesh has reduced the number of middlemen and the people are also able to receive speedy service without paying kick-backs. "If the stamps and registration department also introduce online services for property registration, corruption in the registration offices can be reduced to a maximum extent," said G. Srinivas, an activist....