Dharani Portal saga: Revanth Reddy orders redressal of grievances, inquiry into agency that maintained it

The CM issued a directive for an investigation into the upkeep of Dharani Portal by the private company originally entrusted with the task.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Feb 24, 2024 | 10:20 PMUpdatedFeb 24, 2024 | 10:20 PM

Revanth Reddy at the Dharani Portal review meeting. (X)

The arduous journey for those whose lands mysteriously “disappeared” or fell into the enigmatic realm of the “restricted category” within the Dharani Portal is poised to conclude soon.

On Saturday, 24 February, Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy directed officials to promptly resolve all pending applications. The exercise is scheduled for the first week of March, unfolding within the precincts of tahsildars’ offices.

Revanth Reddy issued a directive for a comprehensive investigation into the upkeep of the Dharani Portal by the private company originally entrusted with the task. He was shocked to discover that ILFS, the company overseeing the Dharani Portal, had declared bankruptcy, leading to a precarious shuffle of maintenance responsibilities across various entities.

Expressing profound concern, the Chief Minister questioned the wisdom of entrusting the safeguarding of farmers’ land records — typically a government-held responsibility — to a foreign-based private agency.

Also Read: Telangana panel to make field visits to examine allegations of land scams

Fixing the issues with Dharani

Favouring the formulation of new legislation for revenue record maintenance, Revanth Reddy emphasised the importance of considering the recommendations put forth by the Dharani committee while processing the backlog of long-pending applications.

Delving into the intricacies of the 2.45 lakh pending Dharani-related cases in the state, the Chief Minister urged officials to expedite resolutions, recognising the prolonged wait endured by farmers seeking solutions to their predicaments.

The Dharani committee members briefed the Chief Minister on deficiencies in the Telangana Rights in Land and Pattadar Passbooks Act, 2020. They highlighted hasty land surveys conducted by the previous BRS government, resulting in disputes and litigations due to errors in land records.

Though the Revenue Department had given a window for rectification of errors in the records in 35 modules, the farmers who did not have the necessary relevant knowledge of the modules, faced several problems. This had led to the rejection of lakhs of applications for rectification of anomalies. Farmers’ issues were compounded by a hefty ₹1,000 fee for each correction.

The lack of coordination between the registration and revenue departments allowed transactions for lands in the restricted category, too, leading to potential misuse of Rythu Bandhu funds credited to ineligible recipients. The committee advocated either amending the existing act or introducing a new one to address these issues comprehensively.

Call for comprehensive inquiry

Revanth Reddy insisted that the government’s decisions would hinge on the committee’s final report, welcoming amendments or new acts to streamline revenue records and registrations. He called for a thorough examination of Dharani Portal defects, aiming to establish a foolproof system.

The Chief Minister also ordered a comprehensive inquiry into the maintenance of the Dharani Portal by the agency it was entrusted to. He questioned the logic behind entrusting a portal, which should be under the control of the Chief Commissioner, Land Administration, to a foreign private company.

“The land records which had to be maintained in secrecy had been entrusted to a foreign company. The land records, Aadhaar details, and bank account information are now with the company. Is the data safe or is there any threat of breach of security?” he asked.

The officials apprised him that in 2018, ILFS had been given the maintenance work after the then-government called for technical and financial bids. The company later went bankrupt and then the portal changed hands.

The Chief Minister expressed dismay, “How can we allow transfer of the data of the farmers from one company to the other, particularly those that are based abroad?” he asked.

Expressing astonishment, the Chief Minister highlighted the startling fact that the company, initially awarded the tender for ₹116 crore in 2018, managed to offload its shares for ₹1,200 crore. He highlighted that there was no guarantee that the company did not tamper with the land records. He said that he had received information that registrations took place even at midnight.

Also Read: How Dharani portal affected Telangana farmers’ pride, livelihood