The missing URL of the blog post by Harish Kumar Bhamidipati that served as a source for the Hydarabad land scam story has now been found, and it comes with a translation of the original newspaper article in
Hindi Telugu that started it all. It’s a great read. Google Earth does indeed play a starring role.
Here’s a highly abridged version of what transgressed: As part of a general amnesty, houses built before 2001 on plots of illegally sold land were “regularised”, and thus allowed to be resold on the market. Somebody with government connections got the bright idea of “backdating” some houses built after 2004, pretending that they were there since 2000, so that they could benefit from the amnesty and sell them. Digital Globe imagery from 2004 in Google Earth quickly put paid to that lie.
In a sign the state government is both clueless and in trouble, it maintains that the images were doctored (according to the blogger’s dad). How cunning of Google!
Seriously, though, this argues strongly in favor of keeping archives of successive generations of Google’s base layer. Google Earth Pro lets you access different datasets; why not make older ones available there as a pay service? (Added bonus: placemarks of time-sensitive artifacts like planes in flight could be metatagged to a specific generation of imagery.)