THE HINDUSTAN TIMES
The fearless DDA Land Commissioner, Mr. K.J. Alphons Kannanthanam, who struck terror in the ranks of the Capital’s land mafia, undeterred by the wrath of its political patrons, has been chastised by the system he set out to reform with his transfer as Commissioner-in-charge of Systems and Training. The real estate operators that Mr. Alphons tried to tame for grabbing public land and setting up commercial complexes illegally for the last three years have at last got their sweet revenge. Equally delighted are the local politicians, who had to contend with not only the consequences of Mr. Alphons’s relentless demolition drives but his crusade against corruption carried on through the social interventionist organization Jan Shakti se up last year. His transfer to a department where his “mischief potential” would be nil assumes significance in the context of the approaching Lok Sabha elections where the huge funds the builders lobby can shell out make Delhi politicians quite amenable to persuasion. The extent of the victory scored by the builder barons can be gauged from the fact that in the 13,800 demolitions carried out during his three-year tenure, Mr. Alphons has been able to recover 1.500 acres worth about Rs. 10, 000 crore. And the bulldozers did not spare even the rich and the powerful. But all this stopped some three months ago when a new DDA Vice-Chairman took over.
That Lt-Governor P.K. Dave; who had been personally guiding the demolition drive against some of the most influential builders, caved in to endorse the transfer of Mr. Alphons tells its own tale. Clearly, it was a high-level decision taken at the instance of the Congress big guns of Delhi, with an eye on the electoral dividends. Mr. Alphons has decided to stay put, describing the “establishment order” issued by a fellow IAS officer as illegal since it has to come from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Whatever the technicalities, Delhi citizens have a right to know why a conscientious officer who moved against the land grabbers and encroachers on public land with such ……had to be punished thus. Mr Alphons came to Delhi after making his mark as Collector in Kerala’s Kottayam district, which he made 100 percent literate and a model in many other ways too, functioning more as an activist possessed than a bureaucrat. Decrying the tendency to blame it on the system, Mr. Alphons keeps alive hope for the common man with his assertion that all that is required to change the situation is a little more commitment on the part of bureaucrats. A system is only as good or as bad as the calibre of the men running it. The vulnerability of the honest will disappear if there is more of his tribe.