The Case of the Missing Tehsildar

Ambagad Chowki, Chhattisgarh, is in need of a regular Revenue Officer. “Our permanent Tehsildar was transferred nine months ago. The present Tehsildar is only a temporary replacement, and he is in charge of other block's as well. Due to this, he hardly comes to Ambagad Chowki, leaving us all with unsolved problems.” says Community Correspondent Bhan Sahu. A Tehsildar, or Block Revenue Officer, is a government official in charge of handling administrative functions in a block (tehsil). These functions include identification and collection of revenue, handling the paperwork of district residents, and also solving land disputes among farmers. In today’s video, Bhan Sahu highlights the necessity of issuing Income and Caste Certificates for tribals and other marginalized communities. Income Certificates help in identifying whether a person is below or above poverty line. If one’s income is below poverty line (BPL), he or she is entitled to various subsidies on food grains and basic supplies, schemes such as the Indira Awaas Yojana (housing schemes), and other such benefits from the government. Caste Certificates come into use when enrolling in educational institutions. Students from Scheduled Caste, Backward Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities are eligible for scholarships from the government. These documents are the only proof to determine caste, and without them many children would not be able to attend or afford basic schooling. “The Tehsildar holds a lot of power in our community. Without his signature on our papers,” says Bhan, “we cannot access government aid. It is also important for him to be present during land disputes and handle the collection of land revenue from farmers. If this is not carried out in an orderly fashion, farmers will face a lot of inconvenience in the future.” The irregularity of the Revenue Officer forces residents of Ambagad Chowki to pay bribes in order to get their work done. The case is the same all over India; out of desperation and lack of time, people are pressurised into paying bribes to corrupt government officials. Bhan tells Video Volunteers that she had a lot of problems while shooting this video. “I kept visiting the Tehsildar’s office in the hope of getting an interview with him, but he was never there! When I asked the clerks present if they would answer some questions for me, they refused as well. In such a situation, how can people expect to get answers? ” -Rajyashri Goody
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