Wednesday, July 30, 2014

28,131 illegal Bangla migrants deported from State

Assam Tribune: Guwahati: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
There were 28,131 illegal infiltrators deported to Bangladesh up to March 2014, said the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in reply to an RTI petition filed on July 23 by RTI activist Rohit Choudhury.
Choudhury in his petition sought all copies of the correspondences, communications, letters and Office Memorandums made and received among the MHA, MoEA and the PMO since April 1, 2004 on the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh identified in Assam and their deportation.
The MHA said that the powers to identify and deport the foreign nationals, including the Bangla nationals, illegally staying in Indian territory have been delegated to the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations under Section 3(2) (c) of the Foreigners Act, 1946. Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants is a continuous process.
Thirty six Foreigners Tribunals are set up for detection of foreigners/illegal immigrants in Assam. Besides, additional 64 Foreigners Tribunals have been sanctioned by the MHA in June, 2013 for speedy disposal of cases pending with the Tribunals. Detected illegal migrants or illegal Bangla nationals are deported to Bangladesh. In order to ensure speedier disposal of cases pending in the Foreigners Tribunals, in April 2012, Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964 was amended, which envisages that the cases shall be disposed of by the Tribunals within 60 days from the reference received from the competent authority.
The MHA reply stated that the matter of detection and deportation of illegal Bangla nationals/ foreigners staying in India are dealt by it. Highest priority has been attached to control illegal migration from Bangladesh and also detection and deportation of Bangla nationals staying illegally in the country. Such issues are discussed regularly among the Central Ministries concerned and there are no specific correspondences among the MHA, Ministry of External Affairs (MoEA) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) available, said the MHA in its reply.

MALT yet to receive RTI reply

Nagaland Post: Nagaland: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
Mangkolemba Ao Lanur Telongjem (MALT), which had reportedly filed an Right To Information (RTI) with the public information officer, PHED, Mangkolemba May 29, 2014, said it was yet to receive reply. In a press release, MALT president Imjong Longkumer and RTI cell convenor Moasunep urged the responsible authority to look into the “callousness and irresponsible attitude” of the PIO and take immediate action “against the insincere officer/employee.”
They said RTI was filed on the total number of PHED consumers and revenue collection in Mangkolemba town and the details of the materials received from the department for maintenance in the town.

HC has no pollution records of judges’ cars: RTI reply

Hindustan Times: New Delhi: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The Delhi High Court, it seems, does not maintain records of whether cars allotted to its chief justice or other judges of the court including the protocol vehicles have pollution-under -control (PUC) certificates, an RTI reply has found.
Ironically, the same court had earlier this year made it compulsory for all vehicles plying in the Capital to have pollution-under -control certification.
A Right to Information (RTI) application had sought information on whether vehicles allotted to Delhi High Court judges had PUC certificates. The court had made these certificates mandatory for the vehicular population of Delhi in a recent order. The RTI reply is, at best, evasive on the topic.
“No such record is maintained in respect to cars allotted to the Hon’ble chief justice, Hon’ble judges of this Court, including the protocol vehicles,” the Public Information Officer (PIO-II) of the Delhi High Court, SP Singh, submitted in reply to an RTI query filed by Jagjit Walia, a government servant residing in Gurgaon on April 29.
In late March this year, a bench of the Delhi High Court had directed the Delhi government and the Delhi Police to launch a campaign directed at ensuring that the Capital’s drivers got PUC certification for their respective vehicles in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) admitted in October 2013.
“The transport department of the Delhi government had been asked ‘to chalk out a plan to ensure that all vehicles plying in Delhi have PUC certification. Due notice will be given to public through advertisements,” the bench had stated in its order on March 26.
“I had filed my application in late April and was furnished the reply only on July 16. The information provided in the reply is incomplete and I will file an appeal in the matter in the coming days,” Walia told HT.  “My RTI had sought details of all the vehicles registered with the Delhi High Court in addition to other details about these,” Walia said.
“But in the reply, the High Court refused to furnish these details, saying information regarding registration number, make and model of vehicles allotted to the chief justice, and other judges of this court including the protocol vehicles being used for extending courtesies cannot be furnished as it could adversely affect their safety and security in terms of Section 8 (1) (g) of the RTI Act,” Walia added.
“How can furnishing these details affect the security of judges considering these are registered under the name of the Delhi High Court instead of the judges?” Walia asked.
HT’s attempt to seek a comment from a senior Delhi High Court official was unsuccessful. “I’m currently not in a position to make a comment on the matter. I’m travelling,” the official said when reached for a comment.

Cop RTIs made cumbersome

The Asian Age: Mumbai: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
A change made by the Mumbai Police in the procedure for disseminating information pertaining to all police stations, under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, has resulted in a 38-fold increase in court fees and probably as many days to file a single RTI application.
Earlier, ACP, co-ordination, whose office is at the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s headquarters, used to receive applications on information related to all police stations. He had to ensure that a copy of the application reached all stations. This way the applicant paid only `10 as court fee stamp for an application.
The information from various stations was then consolidated at the five regional offices headed. The applicant was expected to pick up the information from these offices. However, since last year the Mumbai Police changed the procedure and now the power to forward an RTI application rests with 39 divisional ACPs.
This means that to make a single RTI application pertaining to all police stations the applicant has to spend Rs 390 as court fees for 39 applications. He/she will also have to go to the 39 offices all over the city to submit the applications, and later to receive them.
Responding to the change in procedure, a senior state information commission official, requesting anonymity, said, “The Mumbai police is well within its rights to change the procedure, but I do see that it has made it very difficult for an applicant to get the information. If I receive a complaint, I shall take it up with the police commissioner.”
When contacted for a comment, state information commissioner Ajitkumar Jain said he would comment on the issue only after formally examining the order or a complaint against it.

BDA disowns 'illegal' layout, land encroachers appropriate it

Deccan Herald: Bangalore: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The condition of the erstwhile Venkatarayana Kere at Gubbalala village in Uttarahalli has gone from bad to worse.
As if the encroachment by Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which formed the ‘lake bed layout’ on it was not sufficient, land sharks are out to grab the remaining portion of the lake land and huge tracts of government and BDA lands adjacent to it.
For the past few weeks, hectic activities were noticed around the lake (Sy No 8). The nefarious designs of the land grabbers came to the fore when they started fencing the government land.
This happened a month after the BDA Town Planning member A V Rangesh confessed in his written reply to an RTI query that the Authority formed the layout on the lake bed illegally and that the BDA Board would not approve it.
His confession came after the Bangalore South tahsildar, in his reply to an RTI query, said that the layout was formed illegally without seeking the consent of the Revenue department.
Ever since the BDA disowned the land, the layout has become an encroachers’ paradise. The elected representatives too have shut their eyes to the large-scale encroachment.
G C Prakash, deputy commissioner of Bangalore Urban, who was unaware about the incident, said that he would check with the revenue inspector of the area to find out the facts.
Repeated calls and an SMS to BDA Commissioner Sham Bhat, to get his version, went in vain.
The BDA, a government body, itself stole the lake 10 years ago and formed a layout called Banashankari 6th Stage without government approval. Though the BDA Board didn’t approve it, the officials allotted all sites to individuals. Further, the BDA engineers sanctioned the building plans to the site owners, which paved the way for BWSSB to give sewage and water connection and Bescom to provide electricity connections.
This is the only layout formed by BDA which does not have any civic amenity site, playground or park. It is more a slum than a layout. A BDA commissioner had once called the layout a bunch of ‘gramathana sites’.

Bridges burn Rs 27 crore hole in BMC's coffers, but potholes remain

Times of India: Mumbai: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent nearly Rs 27 crore to repair key bridges in the city since 2011, most of them in the island city, but they continue to be riddled with potholes each year.
Data obtained using the Right to Information (RTI) shows the BMC spent around Rs 19 crore on some bridges in the island city, while it spent Rs 5 crore and Rs 1 crore on bridges in the eastern and western suburbs respectively.
When TOI inspected a few of the bridges on Tuesday, most of them had developed uneven surfaces barely a month after the monsoon arrived. Several key bridges like Tilak bridge and Keshavsoot bridge in Dadar, Vakola bridge in Santa Cruz and the Sudhir Phadke bridge in Goregaon have been completely repaired or attended to several times in the last three years, yet huge potholes have resurfaced this monsoon.
The Keshavsoot bridge outside the Dadar west railway station is probably the most glaring instance of shoddy maintenance. The BMC has so far spent over Rs 60 lakh to fill potholes and resurface the bridge, yet it remains in a poor shape. In 2011, the civic body carried out a large-scale pothole filling exercise on the bridge. The next year, it was repaired and resurfaced. Again in 2013, the bridge was partially resurfaced. But commuters don't see much of a difference. Ajit Padwal, a Dadar (W) resident said, "It is very difficult to drive on Keshavsoot Bridge. There are huge craters over the bridge, which hinders the smooth flow of traffic. Moreover, the north-end is always a problem as the paver blocks are so uneven that two-wheelers often get stuck in them."
Vakola resident Dharmesh Vyas, a former corporator of the area, said poorly laid paver blocks were a menace on the Vakola bridge too.
On Tilak bridge, paver blocks on the approach road from Dadar TT have caved in and asphalt washed away. Incidentally, Tilak bridge was one of the 17 major bridges in the city where the BMC completed resurfacing before this monsoon, for around Rs 35 crore. Mechanised mastic technology was reportedly used to resurface the bridges to ensure potholes don't develop easily.
Activist Chetan Kothari, who sought the information under the RTI, said, "The BMC is wasting taxpayers' money without any accountability on contractors or civic officials. Bridges have been repaired and yet are developing potholes."
S O Kori, chief engineer (bridges), said though the amount spent in the last three years appears huge, most of it went towards resurfacing. He said bridges under the guarantee period will be repaired by contractors for no extra payment. "We plan to resurface the Keshavsoot, JSS and Curry Road bridges after the monsoon. Tendering has been completed and necessary approvals taken." The work will be done for around Rs 4 crore.

Hawker registration figure unbelievably low: Activists

Times of India: Mumbai: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
Citizen activists seem to be surprised at the BMC's claim that it has distributed only Rs 1.25 lakh hawker registration forms during the 10-day drive that ended on Monday.
While a section of them say that the figure itself appears to be fictitious, others are of the opinion that the civic body might not have covered all the areas and just distributed the forms in prime market zones or commercial-cum-residential areas.
According to the national policy on hawking, licences can be issued to 2.5% of the total population of a city. For Mumbai, it works out to around 3.2 lakh vendors, if they can be provided the area. Anandini Thakoor, member of the 17th Road Khar ALM said, "I accompanied the authorities while they had gone to the Santa Cruz station area. The speed at which they were distributing forms makes it difficult for us to believe that only 1 lakh forms were distributed in the city."
"Another reason could be that since hawker union leaders were also part of the form distribution process, BMC authorities could have been influenced by them and taken to those areas where they call the shots," Thakoor added.
However, another activist from Bandra ALM said that if the BMC had fudged the figures, they would be caught with the help of the RTI Act. "The number of hawkers at Hill Road itself that has cropped up in the past few days has been so much that there is something more %than what meets the eye," said the activist.
Viren Shah, president of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare association and member, Town Vending Committee, BMC said that prima facie it looked like the BMC had not at all reached all the hawkers in the city.
"There were several hawkers that cropped up during the registration drive and only just one lakh forms being distributed seems unbelievable," he said.
A few activists also said that since the forms were distributed, the BMC could have a review meeting to understand the happenings at the ground level. "A review meeting will help them understand the pros and cons of the entire exercise. It will also help them during the scrutiny of the forms," said Bharati Kakkad, secretary of Union Park Residents Association ALM.

Power changes hand, iron curtain from RTI remain

Deccan Chronicle: New Delhi: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is what can be said judging by a PMO reply given to an RTI applicant.
In April last year, applicant retired Commodore Lokesh Batra was refused disclosure of steps taken by the Prime Minister’s Office to proactively part with information as mandated under the RTI.
That prompted Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat Chief Minister, to take a potshot at the PMO questioning the UPA for taking credit for RTI even as the top office was denying information.
Three weeks after Mr Modi took over as the Prime Minister, his office gave a similar reply in June this year refusing information to the RTI applicant on similar grounds.
CBI wants exemption from RTI:
CPIO S.E. Rizvi had then questioned the usefulness of giving the applicant details about the list of files related to RTI Act implementation which are maintained under the ES-2 Sec-tion of the PMO and other details.
He had refused to disclose information saying the query would fall in the category of one “where the applicant has not specified how the information is useful to him either personally, socially or nationally”.
Under the Right to Information Act, an RTI applicant is not required to give any reasons while seeking information.
Mr Batra posed a similar question to the PMO on May 19 seeking details of the files maintained by it related to the implementation of RTI.
But he has now got the same answer from Mr Rizvi which was given to him last year.
He regretted that despite change of government, “nothing seems to have changed in the PMO”.

CBI refuses information on corruption charges against its officer to RTI activist

DNA: New Delhi: Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) doesn't want to reveal corruption cases involving its own officers, and is willing to take legal recourse to ensure the same.
The agency refused RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal's May 2013 request seeking information on graft cases against its officers. The agency refused to part with the information stating that the CBI is placed in second schedule of the Right to Information Act 2005 and thus it is not liable to provide information under this act.
Agrawal then approached the Central Information Commission's (CIC), which ruled in its favour in June 2014.
"Section 24 of the RTI Act has exempted certain organisations from the purview of the RTI Act including the CBI. However, information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human right violations have been excluded. The appellant's contention that he was seeking information relating to corruption within the organisation has merit and the response provided by CBI is misplaced and based on an erroneous interpretation of Section 24," said Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur in his order.
Mathur asked CBI to provide information to Agrawal within three weeks. However, the activist did not receive any information and instead got a letter from the CBI stating that they are approaching the Delhi High Court against the CIC's order.
"This is to inform you that CBI is going to file an appeal before the Delhi High Court against the said order of CIC," said a letter (July 24, 2014) written by CBI's Arun Bothra to Agrawal.
Agrawal had sought information regarding complaints received by CBI about corruption within CBI and status of investigations in those cases. He had also sought information regarding an FIR in a matter involving two CBI officers Vivek Dutt and Rajesh Karnatak.
When the Parliament passed the RTI Bill in 2005, CBI was not in the list of organisations exempted from giving information under the Act. However, in 2011 when UPA-II was battling several allegations of corruption, the Congress-led UPA exempted the agency from providing information.
The Act states that even those organisations that are exempt from giving information have to provide the information related to corruption and human rights violation.
Agrawal stated that section 24 of the RTI Act directs public-authorities, placed under the second schedule of the Act, to provide information relating to corruption and human rights violation. "So far, the CBI has been arguing that such information could be provided only in cases of corruption and human rights violation. But now the CBI has decided to challenge the CIC verdict for information relating to corruption within itself," Agrawal told dna. "The CBI must not interpret the RTI Act in a manner it like. Its decision to approach the high court on such clear issues is clear denial of citizen's constitutional right which was simplified by RTI Act."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Union Bank of India has NPAs worth Rs 3,350 crore

Business Today: New Delhi: Tuesday, 29 July 2014.
Union Bank of India has non-performing assets (NPAs) worth about Rs 3,350 crore from 20 defaulters.
Replying to an RTI query, the bank, however, declined to share the names of the defaulters citing "commercial confidence".
"List of the borrowers cannot be provided as they are of commercial confidence and exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act. We inform you, however, that the amount involved in the top 20 NPA accounts as of December 31, 2013, is Rs 3,350.17 crore," the bank said.
The Section bars making public of information related to commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party.
Exercising his Right to Information, Venkatesh Nayak had sought details of the top 20 borrowers responsible for NPA from five banks, including Union Bank of India.
The other four - State Bank of India, Bank of India (BoI), Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) - declined to share information on the amount of NPAs and list of borrowers.
"The information cannot (be) provided as it is related to third party personal information and held by the bank in fiduciary relationship and exempted from disclosure," SBI said in its response to the RTI application.
BoI, too, cited the "third parties" clause to deny information on defaulters.
Central Bank of India said the information cannot be provided as it comes under "commercial confidence and personal information of the borrowers, which is exempted".
IOB said the information and details of the top 20 NPA borrower accounts with various details as to the property secured for the loans or credit limits sanctioned and value of such properties "formed the commercial confidence and is held in fiduciary relationship".
"The disclosure of information amounts to invasion of the privacy of the constituents and exempted," IOB said.
Nayak had earlier this year filed another set of RTI applications with Bank of Baroda, UCO Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of Mysore seeking the names of defaulters and details of NPAs.
The information was denied by all five banks.
"It is public money and depositors have all the right to know about it. The NPAs are being restructured. The names should be put in public domain. I have appealed against the banks' denial of information," said Nayak, who works with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an NGO.

‘LDA ignoring RTI queries on Riverview’

Times of India: Lucknow: Tuesday, 29 July 2014.
Even as LDA faces blame for inferior construction and poor maintenance at Riverview Enclave of Gomtinagar Extension, residents also complain that the authority has remained evasive on RTI queries seeking contract and bid papers.
A resident of Saraswati Apartment, Krishna Kant Singh, said, "The contract papers can throw light on minor details and specifications and explain what went wrong. But whenever we ask for a copy of papers, LDA doesn't respond."
An RTI query was filed about eight months ago about construction of a park but elicited no response from LDA. A senior official in charge during launch of the project, said, "The government has formed UP Apartment Act 2010 which empowers allottees to seek information about the map, layout, specifications and actual measurements of built up and super area of their apartment."
He said if the developer whether private or government agency does not provide this information or has violated the sanctioned map in any form, it is a punishable offence. "If Riverview residents need information on contract papers, they should be given the same immediately," he said.
Meanwhile, more facts have come to the fore which show that both LDA and the construction agency remained negligent throughout construction and handed over flats in a hurry without ensuring that basic facilities like water, electricity supply, sewage connectivity are in a working condition.
A resident Preeti Singh said, "The flats were handed over under deadline pressures without even bothering to give sewer connectivity and water and electricity supply. The sewer lines were connected to main trunk line only a few months ago." The possession started in 2011 but the facilities remained absent for long.
An LDA official involved in the project few years ago said, "LDA overlooked the poor standards and allotted flats in a hurry. In bathrooms, proper water-proofing and installation of fittings was not done, which is now resulting in leakages."
According to norms all such works should be done under supervision of junior engineers but in reality, the work was left to the contractors and labourers.
Under the contract, branded fittings, pipelines, superior paint were promised but in reality, substandard products were used, he added.
Maintenance loopholes
After the CM reprimanded LDA for its lax approach during construction of Riverview Enclave, the authority conducted a joint inspection with the construction agency and found that most problems are due to poor maintenance of flats. LDA has hired a one-stop agency for all kinds of maintenance, security, cleaning, and gardening works.
Residents complain that the generator is old and worn out, lifts are rusted and don't work half the time, the staircase railing is fully rusted, the paint coating is coming off and walls have developed cracks. Ajay Gupta, a resident said, "They promised teak but the wood is so inferior that within 2 years, it has chipped off because of dampness. The final coating of paint was never applied. Even the sanitaryware, electrical fittings and water pipelines are of poor grade."
LDA said separate teams of construction and maintenance agency have been deployed to solve people's problems.
Help centres flooded with complaints
In barely two days of operation, about 12 help centres in various apartments of Riverview Enclave have received 60 complaints related to either construction anomalies or maintenance issues.
Negative reports about substandard construction in Riverview have been doing the rounds of late, adversely impacting LDA's credibility. As a crisis control strategy, LDA has decided to take up complaints on the spot and not let them go to the LDA office. LDA claimed it has already resolved 15 complaints over two days.

Woman aged 532 years a recipient of CM's free sewing machine

Times of India: Raipur: Tuesday, 29 July 2014.
Believe it or not, many centenarian women aged 100, 200 and even 500 years are sewing and riding bicycles in Chhattisgarh.
Bizarre as it sounds, a look at the information provided by Chhattisgarh Labour Department under RTI about the beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Silai (sewing) Machine and Cycle Sahayata Yojanas will confirm the facts. Recipients include women aged over 100 and 200 years, the 'eldest' being 532 years. Incidentally, all such entries do not have any addresses mentioned against them.
Call it faux pas or a scam waiting to be unearthed, the list furnished by the department does warrant an inquiry, as it shows widespread discrepancies, raising doubts about the real beneficiaries of the schemes that cost the state over Rs 40 crore.
The two schemes for distribution of free sewing machines and cycles were launched on the eve of assembly polls last year to help women labourers working in the unorganized sector. About 1.15 lakh women across the state reportedly benefited from the scheme.
While the cycle scheme was aimed to benefit women in the age group of 18-35, free sewing machines were for women in the age group of 35 to 60. However, the data shows that the age group criteria weren't followed at all.
As per RTI information obtained by activist Sanjeev Aggarwal, about 19,399 sewing machines were distributed to women in unorganised sector under Chief Minister Silai Sahayta Yojana in Raipur. The list of beneficiaries includes 6,189 women who were shown aged 114 years. Besides these, the list has six women showing age 202 years, three showing aged 212 years, two showing aged 282 years. There were at least 14 women shown above 300 years, seven in their 400s. Age of one woman was mentioned as 532 years.
Taking to TOI, Aggarwal said this misinformation could be just a tip of the iceberg, as the data obtained by him pertained only to Raipur. "If the information provided is correct, then beneficiaries' list has been fudged," he said.
When contacted, deputy labour commissioner Savita Mishra said this mistake could have happened because of a software malfunction. However, she expressed surprise as to how incorrect information could be given under RTI. "I am writing to the concerned officers for conducting an inquiry to ascertain the facts," she said adding that whosoever is found guilty would not be spared.
As per RTI information obtained by activist Sanjeev Aggarwal, about 19,399 sewing machines were distributed to women in unorganised sector under Chief Minister Silai Sahayta Yojana in Raipur.
The list of beneficiaries includes 6,189 women who were shown aged 114 years. Besides these, the list has six women showing age 202 years, three showing aged 212 years, two showing aged 282 years.
There were at least 14 women shown above 300 years, seven in their 400s.
Age of one woman was mentioned as 532 years.Taking to TOI, Aggarwal said this misinformation could be just a tip of the iceberg, as the data obtained by him pertained only to Raipur. "If the information provided is correct, then beneficiaries' list has been fudged," he said.
When contacted, deputy labour commissioner Savita Mishra said this mistake could have happened because of a software malfunction. However, she expressed surprise as to how incorrect information could be given under RTI.
"I am writing to the concerned officers for conducting an inquiry to ascertain the facts," she said adding that whosoever is found guilty would not be spared.

Move to curb VIP culture in Tirumala

The Hindu: Hyderabad: Tuesday, 29 July 2014.
Andhra Pradesh Endowments Minister P.Manikyala Rao has said that after curtailing the VIP break darshan, at least 10,000 more commoners are able to avail ‘darshan’ at the Tirumala every day.
Earlier, about 5,000 VIPs used to avail break darshan and now the number has been reduced to 800 to 1,000 a day. As a result, the waiting time came down from 30 hours to about seven hours for others, he said. Speaking to the media in his chambers here on Monday, Mr.Manikyala Rao said that once the Rs.300 tickets for slot booking was introduced to avail darshan within two hours, the system of VIP letters would also be dispensed with.
Disclosing about several proposals being pursued, the Minister said that the Endowments department would launch websites to upload temple-wise accounts, expenditure, lands, properties and valuables besides details of staff. Several software companies including the TCS came forward to design the website. The department would also be brought under the purview of the RTI Act to bring in transparency and provide information in the public domain.
In order to attract students to pursue Sanathana Dharma, the Endowments department will set up English medium schools in each district with the help of donors which will also teach Sanathana Dharma. This would encourage students to pursue normal education to find employment and also pursue their dharma as purohits, he said. The proposal was mooted as not many students enrolled in institutions teaching Sanathana Dharma were dropping out despite the department depositing Rs. 2 lakh in the name of each student.

Officials Face Music for Shoddy Implementation of RTI Act

The New Indian Express: Vijayawada: Tuesday, 29 July 2014.
State information commissioner P Vijaya Babu has asked the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh to see that the officials of various departments respond to the applications filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act). He also charged the higher officials of the revenue, panchayat raj, labour, DRDA and DWMA department with negligence with regard to the implementation of the RTI Act.
Addressing a press conference here Monday, the commissioner said that the government would not spare any official who was not serious about the implementation of the RTI Act and added that he had imposed fine on four officials of the Labour Department for not attending a hearing in the city between July 21 and 23.
“A maximum fine of `25,000 had been imposed on the assistant commissioner of labour, Machilipatnam, for not furnishing information and for not attending hearings of the commission. Deputy commissioners of labour based at Eluru and Nellore have also been imposed a penalty of `10,000. The joint commissioner of labour, Guntur, has been imposed a fine of `5,000 for not furnishing information within the stipulated time and for not attending the hearing of the commission,” he added. They have been slapped with the fine on charges like ‘not furnishing information within the specified time’ and providing ‘misleading information’ under sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
He said that he had issued show-cause notices to the panchayat officers of Guntur, Nellore, Krishna, East Godvari, Anantapur, Kurnool and Chittoor districts. Zilla Parishad CEOs of Vishakapatnam and Chittoor districts, labour commissioner, Hyderabad, assistant labour commissioner, Machilipatnam, project directors of DRDA of Prakasam, Chittoor and East Godavari districts, project directors of DWMA of Guntur, Prakasam and East Godavari districts for negligence in the disposal of the petitions under RTI.
“As they are not responding to the notices, the CS had to intervene and see that the law is implemented properly,”  he added.
INFO MUDDLE
·       information commissioner says that the officials are not implementing the RTI Act properly.
·      Several officers have been slapped with show-cause notices.
·      State Information commissioner Vijaya Babu seeks the intervention of the chief secretary.
·      6,897 cases disposed (including appeals, complainants and others) against the total number of the received cases 6,996.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Air Force Sports Complex comes under RTI: Central Information Commission

Economic Times: Chandigarh: Monday, 28 July 2014.
Air Force Sports Complex located at posh Race Course area is a public authority coming under the Right to Information Act, a full-bench of the Central Information Commission has held rejecting its contention that it is a private body.
AFSC pleaded that it is a private body which is not substantially financed by the government and hence it is not liable to provide any responses to the RTI applicants.
A full bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur and Information Commissioners Sharat Sabharwal and M Sridhar Acharyulu rejected the arguments as it found that government has given the complex substantial land which is a kind of indirect funding.
The documents supplied by the Defence Estate Officer showed that according to their records, Air Force authorities are in occupation of 126.948 acres of Ministry of Urban Development land at the Air Force Station, Race Course.
According to DEO, out of 100 acres allotted to Defence Ministry for construction of Race Course area, 52.80 acres was formally transferred to Defence Ministry on which the complex is located.
It also came to the notice of the Bench that top-most officers of Defence Services are having control of the management of AFSC.
The AFSC cited a Supreme Court order which said unless the record show that the funding was so substantial to the body which practically by such funding and but for such funding it would struggle to exist.
The AFSC said it does not receive any such funding but CIC rejected it and held that the complex cannot exist if government withdraws the permission to use the land. The AFSC is conducting its activities only because the land was permitted to be used by its owners MoD and MoUD.
The Bench directed the AFSC to conform itself with all the provisions of the RTI including the appointment of a CPIO for responding to RTI queries.

“Violations in posting Hooda loyalists to statutory panels in Haryana”

The Hindu: Chandigarh: Monday, 28 July 2014.
Officials in Haryana have raised the red flag over a clutch of hurried appointments allegedly made in violations of rules by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Haryana to the State’s Right to Information Commission and the Right to Service Commission (RTSC), widely seen as a sinecure for the Chief Minister’s favourite retiring bureaucrats and loyalists.
On Sunday, five of the eight members appointed to these Commissions were administered the oath of office in an unpublicised ceremony at the Chief Minister’s residence. The new appointees, whose names were cleared by outgoing Governor Jagannath Pahadia on July 25, on the last day of his tenure, were sworn in without them being given letters of appointment.
This, because the Secretary, Administrative Reforms, Pradeep Kasni, refused to issue the appointment letters and has put on record that since the appointments fall foul of the provisions of the relevant Acts, the entire process of their selection may be put up before the Governor. The appointments were cleared without Mr. Pahadia being apprised about the violations, or there being any order of appointment from his office.
Mr. Kasni told The Hindu: “Officers must not be forced to implement blatantly illegal orders issued by the political leadership. Those who do not do their bidding are harassed in different ways.”
Haryana Chief Secretary S.C. Chaudhary, whose name has been recommended as Chief Commissioner of the Right to Service Commission (RTSC), has described Mr. Kasni’s allegations as “baseless and incorrect.”
Mr. Kasni’s note points out that the recommendation of the statutory committee headed by the Chief Minister that cleared the names of Lt Gen (Retd.) Tonk, Dr. Amar Singh, Sarban Singh (a serving IAS officer) and Sunil Katyal (an Additional Advocate General) for RTS Commissioners are against the provisions of Section 13(3) of the RTS Act 2014, according to which at least two Commissioners must be retired officers of the Haryana government in the rank of Administrative Secretary.
The recommendation of three persons as Information Commissioners was, according to Mr. Kasni’s note, a violation of the RTI Act that stipulates that they should not be holding any office of profit when the statutory committee clears their names.

Forum wants RTI as a subject for all degree courses.

Times of India: Panaji: Monday, 28 July 2014.
Goa Right To Information forum has decided to oppose any move to scrap the RTI module introduced in the second year BCom syllabus by Goa University.
Forum members and RTI activists, who met in the state capital to discuss the matter, criticized some college principals who had opposed the module.
In addition, the RTI forum also demanded that the subject should be compulsorily introduced in all other courses of Goa University, stating that if awareness about RTI is created among students in a structured manner through the syllabus, then it will lead to a more informed and responsible society.

Air Force sports complex comes under RTI Act, says CIC

Times of India: New Delhi: Monday, 28 July 2014.
Air Force Sports Complex is a public authority under the Right to Information Act, a full bench of the Central Information Commission has held rejecting its contention that it was a private body.
AFSC had argued that it was a private body which was not substantially financed by the government and hence it was not liable to provide any response to RTI applicants.
A full bench comprising chief information commissioner Rajiv Mathur and information commissioners Sharat Sabharwal and M Sridhar Acharyulu rejected the arguments as it found that the government had given the complex substantial land which was a kind of indirect funding.
Documents supplied by the Defence Estate Officer showed that according to their records, IAF authorities were in occupation of 126.948 acres of ministry of urban development land at Air Force Station, Race Course. According to DEO, out of 100 acres allotted to defence ministry for construction of race course area, 52.80 acres was formally transferred to defence ministry on which the complex is located. It also came to the notice of the commission that top defence officers were in control of the AFSC management.

Courses to make babus efficient

The Asian Age: New Delhi: Monday, 28 July 2014.
To develop efficiency and help bureaucrats adopt a systematic approach, the Directorate of Union Territory of Civil Services (UTCS) has introduced new short-duration courses. The UTCS has also organised 298 training programmes this year so far a record among all top training institutes of the country.
UTCS director K. Mahesh said the important courses, which are conducted by the UTCS, include time-bound public service delivery, self-defence for women, basic life support and first aid, ethics and values in public governance, functions of tehsildars, protecting the environment Clean Delhi Green Delhi, handling court cases for pairvy officers, preparation of disaster management plan, team building and group dynamics and protecting the rights of children.
Mr Mahesh said that apart from organising the courses, the directorate also took up DOPT-sponsored trainer development programmes. “These are national-level programmes in which officers of central and various state governments participate. Some of the courses conducted were on national training policy, direct training skills, facilitation skills, training need analysis and systematic approach to training,” he said. The official said the UTCS also initiated special lecture series by the eminent personalities of the country for the Delhi Andaman Nicobar Island Civil Services (DANICS Probationers) and IAS (Probationers) that benefited the officers of the Delhi government, including IAS Officers, by enhancing their skills and managerial capacities at the top of the service.
“The UTCS also organised 298 training programmes which is a record among all top training institutes of the country. These training programmes were attended by 7,411 participants in the year 2013-14 on various subjects,” Mr Mahesh.
The director said that apart from organising the above skill-oriented courses-training programmes successfully, the UTCS has been awarded with a merit certificate and cash prize of Rs 5,000 for best practices in the field of RTI by the Himachal Institute of Public Administration, Shimla sponsored by the department of personnel and training (DoPT), during the regional workshop on the theme, “Improving Transparency and Accountability in Government through Effective Implementation of Right to Information Act, 2005.”
Mr Mahesh added that in the national PPP capacity-building programme under the department of economic affairs, the Government of India, the UTCS was awarded with a shield for exemplary performance in developing the state PPP trainer cadre at the award ceremony organised as part of the NPCBP workshop on March 4 this year.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Free bicycle for 200-year-old woman in Chattisgarh

Deccan Chronicle: Raipur: Sunday, 27 July 2014.
Annapurna, age 213, daughter of Dharmendra, Mahatma Gandhi Nagar, Amaldih, Raipur (Chhattisgarh). The double centenarian is not only alive but also riding bicycle.
This may sound incredulous, but the ‘said woman’ finds place in the list of beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Cycle Sahayata Yojana, being implemented by the Chhattisgarh government to provide free bicycles to women engaged in construction works in the state.
The beneficiary, most likely a fictitious one, received the free bicycle in 2013, according to information provided under the RTI Act.
“I was shocked to see the list of beneficiaries where not only one double centenarian, but also as many as 1,452 centenarians, all women, figured. While, the double centenarian’s address has been mentioned in the list, there was no mention of whereabouts of the centenarian beneficiaries in it”, RTI activist Sanjeev Agrawal said on Saturday.
“This speaks volumes on scale of corruptions in the scheme,” he added.
As per the information provided under RTI, all the centenarian beneficiaries are aged exactly 114 years. When contacted, an officer of state labour department, he said, “The matter is under investigation.”
A state government officer, said that earlier a private agency was hired by the government to procure bicycles at `6500  each. However, the practice was discontinued following reports of alleged widespread irregularities in procurement of the commodity.