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Bhoomi’s transparency did help Goutham Venki in his fight to get back land that had been taken long ago from his great grandfather by a powerful landlord.

He and about a dozen from his community of migrant stoneworkers looked up their dispossessed land at the Bhoomi office in 2004 and found it had been registered to a real estate developer, who had just bought it from the landlord.

Venki sued _ and won. But he still had to borrow 120,000 rupees (about $220) at 60 percent interest from a loan shark to bribe bureaucrats to change the Bhoomi record back into his name.

A month later, the real estate developer appealed. And the decades’ old land dispute drags on, like so many of Karnataka’s land battles.

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