CHENNAI: That poverty makes one weak before authority is known, but a survey of graft patterns shows that the poor are especially vulnerable to the avarice of corrupt officials.
Families living below the poverty line in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry paid an estimated Rs 97.6 crore as bribes for getting public services in the last year alone, a survey on corruption levels has revealed.
The astounding figure translates into an average bribe of Rs 477 a household in the state and the union territory, according to the study conducted by Transparency International-India and the Centre for Media Studies, New Delhi. Of the BPL households that availed of services, 59% had paid bribes in the past one year, the study found.
The state report, of which details have been released now, is part of a larger national study, 'TII-CMS India Corruption Study 2007', the results of which were released in June. The survey focussed on BPL households and did not merely cover perception of corruption, but the actual bribe-paying experience of families while availing of 11 selected public services.
The services were divided into basic (Public Distribution System, hospital, electricity, school education and water supply) and need-based (banking, national rural employment guarantee scheme, forest, land records and registration, housing and police).
The study was based on a sample of 1,301 BPL households, of which 1,009 were from rural areas, while 292 were in urban areas. The places covered were Chennai, Puducherry and three NREGS districts of Cuddalore, Dindigul and Tiruvannamalai.
"The findings are in line with the experience of our state chapter in running a regular helpline for corruption-related complaints. We have been receiving and responding to a lot of such complaints," said LM Menezes, convener of TI India's state chapter.
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were studied together because of their similar socio-economic profile. Nearly two-thirds of BPL households that interacted with the police had paid bribe to avail of their services, it said.
Among other need-based services, more than one-third had to grease some palms for services in the housing and land registration sectors.
The incidence varied across services, with the percentage of respondents reporting actual payment of bribe ranging from 13 (school education) and 45 (water supply). Most of them had paid bribe to avail of services for which they had made three or more visits to the offices concerned. A majority of the recipients were government officials, and very few mentioned payment to local representatives. Agents were used mostly in services related to school education and water supply, while the proportion of use of middlemen was higher in need-based services like housing.
About 43% of the respondents blamed government officials for corruption, while 37% held the citizens themselves responsible. Only 14 out of 100 respondents put the blame on politicians.
The national study estimated that BPL households paid about Rs 900 crore a year as bribes to get basic services. The study divided the states by their size and ranked them on levels of corruption into 'alarming', 'very high', 'high' and 'moderate'.
6 months ago