As Greater Bangalore was created some time back, we needed to get a transfer from the Panchayat khata to the BBMP khata for our house. Ideally, it should be an automatic procedure but walk into a BBMP office to get a feel of the corruption prevailing. The ramshackle place would be filled with people, who try their best to ignore you, talk over the phone, or plain not look at you. They do not give any information and expect palm greasing for every small thing.
Many people in my colony paid a bribe ranging from 16K to 8K to get their khata. I am strictly opposed to bribing. Along with a friend, I went and submitted a simple application along with the required documents. All the documents were suitably notarized. After 2 weeks, we went to check the status and got darshan of the Revenue Inspector for the first time. He looks as slimy as his dealings are. He just asked us to come next week, as the BBMP elections required his attention. Had I offered to pay him bribe, I am sure all his attention would be solely reserved for my application :).
Anyway, we went back after a week as told, and he still could not tell us the status of the application. He told us to come the next week after the Election counting was over. When we reached the next time, after waiting for half an hour, he walks in and then says that the file had not even moved from the person who sits in the next chair to him, to whom we had submitted the original application! It was already a month! The BBMP website says that if within 30 days you do not get your khata, you can file under RTI asking about the status of your application.
I was really upset. I told him angrily that he had nicely sat on my file for one month even though all my documents were in line. In addition, he said that we needed to pay the House tax for the year 2010-2011 as well, as he had not forwarded the application in the previous financial year. I had to pay the tax, when I had the entire year left to pay it to process my application due to his fault. I threatened him with a complaint to seniors and told him what exactly I thought of his bribing ways. Next day, I went and submitted the tax receipt.
He said it would take another week or so, as the file had to go to 4 officers. Another angling for bribe that I ignored. After almost 11 days, I went again one evening, I was told to come next morning, as he was not around. Next morning, I went to his office, he was not there even at noon. I wonder if they ever work!He told me over the phone that my file was approved, and that he took “personal interest.” He was still angling for bribe! I waited more than an hour, and he did not turn up, so I went home. I went again in the evening. This man would not even show me the papers, he started saying for the benefit of others that I had no respect for him!! Also, since he took “personal interest,” I needed to consider that. I had enough of his harassment till then. He was the one at fault, and he was complaining about respect. My tongue along with my face became fiery. I told him that I had the number of his seniors as well as the Lokayukta. If he did not give the document to me then I will approach all the authorities along with filing an RTI application. How dare he openly ask me for bribe? I won’t say he was shameful, but he knew I was going to do what I threatened. So, he got moving. Within an hour’s time, I managed to have the khata document in my hand!
I am very proud that I did not pay him a single penny in bribe and got my document for just a fee of Rs. 125, the official fee. I not only saved my money, but I proved that we can move towards reducing corruption, if we are steady in our conviction not to pay bribe. Yes, it required effort on my part, but I am immensely satisfied with myself.
Like that popular advertisement goes….. ” Woh khaate hain, kyunki hum khilaate hai.”
“They ask for a bribe, because we give them.” It is time we started taking some responsibility for the corruption we see around us.This is my entry for “I Stood Up” contest of Women’s web I stood up Blogathon.