(Niranjan Kaggere & Deepthi Sridhar)
An Udupi resident was hoping sale of her land would help with her daughter’s wedding expenses. But officials refuse to process her file for land conversion. Chief Electoral Officer says rules are very clear
In its missionary zeal to clamp down on an entire spectrum of activities which could influence the voters of Karnataka, the Election Commission seems to have lost the human touch. The model code of conduct, which came into force on March 20, has had the effect, albeit unintended,of causing serious hardship to pensioners and other ordinary citizens across the state as the authorities are sitting on their applications, citing the poll code.
Take the case of 45-year-old Mohini Punja, a resident of Hejamady village in Udupi district, who wants to marry off her daughter. Selling a piece of land she owns in her village is the only way Mohini can meet the expenses of her daughter’s wedding, which has been fixed for April 29. Mohini applied for a land conversion (to non-agriculture) certificate three months ago, expecting a better price from the change in land status. But with the wedding date fast approaching, she has been delivered a shocker: the officials concerned are sitting on her file, citing the model code of conduct.
Mohini’s case is not unique: several other common citizens across the state have been affected by the Election Commission’s poll code. In fact, the poll code has come in the way of implementation of the Sakala scheme in several districts. Citing a circular (DPAR/4/2013) dated March 23 issued by the department of personnel and administrative reforms, deputy commissioners in various districts have stopped processing applications for pensions and conversion of land. Even enquiries by the applicants under Sakala over the reason for the delay in sanction of pensions and conversion certificates have not been replied to as the files have been kept pending by the DCs.
Currently, Mohini’s application (C No. 59614) for conversion of her land located on survey numbers 23/2A, 23/16, 23/17, 23/12 and 23/13, is pending in the tahsildar’s office.
She has written about her plight to Dr Shalini Rajaneesh, principal secretary, DPAR (administrative reforms), asking her to intervene and help in conducting her daughter’s marriage by getting her the land conversion certificate.
Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Mohini said, “My daughter’s marriage was fixed for April 2013. Due to financial problems, I decided to sell my immovable property located in Hejamadi and accordingly applied for conversion. But the officials concerned are not processing my application, citing the DPAR circular.
“My application is in no way connected to the code of conduct as there is no involvement of or benefit to any candidate or political party.”
Moved by her plight, Bangalore Mirror contacted Dr Rajaneesh, who said, “The ECI has prohibited processing of pension and land conversion applications. However, I have brought to the notice of the Election Commission that it comes under the Sakala Act and should not be put on hold. I am likely to get a clarification today.”
When we brought Mohini’s case to the notice of Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha, he said categorically, “The rules are very clear — we cannot give permission to sanction pensions or conversions of land till the end of the election process.”
Meanwhile, KJP president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has seized the chance to jump on the emotional bandwagon ahead of other politicos in the state. On Thursday, he told media persons in Arasikere that he would complain to the Election Commission about the “considerable inconvenience” caused to ordinary citizens since the declaration of the poll code of conduct.