Thursday, July 02, 2015

Parliamentary panel recommends 100% salary hike for MPs, health benefits for grand children

Zee News: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
A parliamentary committee headed by firebrand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Yogi Adityanath has recommended 100 percent hike in the salary of parliamentarians, a newspaper report said on Thursday.
Besides proposing a 100 percent hike in salary, the panel has also recommended increasing the pension of elected representatives from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000.
The Yogi Adityanath-led panel has suggested to bring in a pay revision mechanism on the lines of pay commission, which is at present only meant for government employees.
As per the report, at least 60 recommendations have been put forward by the Adityanath-led panel.
The panel has also advocated for raising the the daily allowance of Rs 2,000 for MPs, which they get during Parliament sittings.
Besides proposing 20-25 free air travels in a year, the panel has also said that an additional free AC first class ticket should be provided for their companion, such as their personal secretary.
As per the report, the panel has also recommended extending the health benefits given to the MPs to their children and grandchildren as well.
The last revision of salaries of MPs took place in 2010.
Recently, it was revealed that our parliamentarians, with average earnings of Rs 1.4 lakh per month along with perks, enjoy sumptuous meal due to heavy subsidy received by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to run the Parliament canteen, BJP leader MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Wednesday said that it is wrong to show only the elected representatives in poor light, as around 5,000 people eat in there.
At a time when soaring prices of meat, fish and vegetables have made these lip-smacking dishes disappear from the common man's plates, Parliamentarians are savouring these for a pittance, courtesy the subsidy provided by the central government.
For instance, crisp fish fry with chips comes at Rs 25, mouth watering mutton curry is available for Rs 20, mutton cutlet for Rs 18, a crunchy masala dosa for Rs 6 and boiled vegetables for as little as Rs 5. The rates can make one salivate as much as the dishes.
According to an item list received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, while fish fry with chips is subsidised by 63 percent, the figure for mutton curry is 67 percent, cutlet 65 percent, boiled vegetables 83 percent and masala dosa 75 percent.

DoPT accepts CIC panel push towards open, accountable government

Economic Times: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
The government needs to do away with a secrecy-dominated organisational approach and initiate an "open government", a two-member panel formed by the Central Information Commission has said in its report. The committee has recommended that each government department should declare open and negative lists of information and proactively publish updated information on websites.
The two-member committee, comprising former CIC AN Tiwari and former information commissioner MM Ansari, has submitted a critical 150-page report "Transparency Audit towards an Open and Accountable Government" to CIC and department of personnel and training (DoPT). The committee was formed last year and was mandated to see how government departments are faring in proactive disclosure of information, the quality of disclosure and how to conduct a third-party transparency audit of the government.
The committee's report, which was accepted by DoPT on Monday, says the proactive disclosure by departments under Section 4 of RTI Act is lacking. The committee has cited the example of National Data Sharing Accessibility Policy, which has a negative list.
The report says, "Possibly, time is now for all several transparency related initiatives to be brought under a common umbrella in the form of 'open government initiative', which should result in an unambiguous announcement by the government about its commitment to open government through transparency in all its functions, except those, which for specific reasons, must remain secret.

RTI pleas: GAD yet to uplink online portal

Times of India: Bhopal: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
Madhya state information commission wobbles when it comes to firm and transparent implementation of RTI Act.
State commission has not only failed to prod general administration department (GAD), nodal department to ensure enactment of the transparency tool, it has also kept its eyes wide shut on enforcing online application of queries. A common online portal for all government departments to allow online filing of RTI pleas can cut down leg work of applicants. But GAD has been sleeping on both implementation and execution, despite IT experts of GAD being trained to handle the online portal by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
Introduction of the common online portal was on the agenda of department of personnel and training to allow filing of online queries on a common platform from where applications would be directed to respective PIOs of concerned departments. Application fee of Rs 10 can be paid through debit card.
Employees of IT department of GAD were called for training at NIC in April, but till date online portal has not being uplinked. Technical support would be given by NIC while the administrative part was to be under GAD.
"90% complaints we receive from applicants is about PIOs not admitting their pleas. Applicants have to run from pillar to post to file one application and most of the time PIOs are unavailable at their desk. The major dilemma faced is when PIOs scrutinize the application and reject it by pointing out errors in application. The online portal will bring transparency, but GAD is trying to stop it to paralyse the RTI Act and make it toothless," said RTI activist %Ajay Dubey.

'Info bosses love long drives, burn our money'

Times of India: Bhopal: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
Their home is just 3 km from office, but car has to travel as much as 91 km to reach there. Information commissioners fascination for long drive in the state where pendency of RTI appeals is in thousands was revealed by a query under Right to Information Act (RTI).
Their long-drive penchant is not limited to travel within the city, but also to their hometown for 'attending seminars' and sometimes without specific reasons. All, of course, by official vehicles.
Documents procured under RTI by Dubey has revealed facts. However, officials maintain travels were within permissible limits.
Like vehicle number MP 02 AB 0058, which belongs to one of the information commissioners travelled 91 km in Bhopal on July 7 last year. Again it travelled 91 km on July 8, then 84 km on July 3, 90 km on July 4 and 88 km on July 5.
Most of these commissioners stay in Char Imli area, which is some 3 km from state information commission.
One of information commissioners, who hails from Gwalior, went to Gwalior on an official trip in June this year after seeking approval of chief information commissioner on a note-sheet in which it was written, "I will be going on Gwalior tour on June 5 and 6" without specifying reason for visit.
In another such case, an information commissioner went for official trip to Indore to attend a seminarbut before it he went to Mandu, a tourist spot and it was only late in evening that he came for the seminar. Another commissioner went to attend a seminar organized by a particular caste group in Gwalior.
"The Act says state information commissioners should hear appeals at the commission thus these frequent tours seem a bit extravagant," Ajay Dubey, who took information under RTI Act, told TOI.
"Bhopal is such a small town. How can one travel 91 km on official tour," Dubey asked. On being contacted, chief information commissioner K D Khan, however, said, "There is a limit of 220 litres of fuel use for each of information commissioner and any use above this limit is to be borne by commissioner. So it is always within limits."

Not maintaining record of Vasundhara Raje’ foreign trips a violation of law: Congress

Financial Express: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
The Congress on Wednesday launched yet another attack on Vasundhara Raje claiming that the fact that there were no records of the Rajasthan Chief Minister’s foreign trips was a clear violation of law.
“Even MLAs have to inform the Assembly before going abroad. The RTI filed against her reveals that Vasundhara ji’s information on the trip is not in the records. It is a violation of law,” said Congress leader Pratap Singh.
As per an RTI query, the Rajasthan Government does not have any record about Raje’s foreign tours between February 2009 and February 2013 when she was the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
RTI activist and teacher Satayanarayan Gujjar had reportedly sought details about the domestic and foreign tours of Raje and the then Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot between February 2009 and February 2013.

UGC's response to queries on degrees: No response

Hindustan Times: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
In its response to an RTI ­application filed by HT’s Jeevan Prakash Sharma, the University Grants Commission had no ­information to share on approvals for collaborations between Indian and international institutes. Here is the full text of the RTI application and UGC’s response,  signed by Mriganka Sekhar Sarma, education officer, and Dharam Vir Yadav, section officer.
According to section 4 of University Grants Commission (Promotion and Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaboration between India and Foreign Educational Institution Regulations 2012), Which was notified in the Gazette on September 21, 2013, any Indian educational institution collaborating with foreign educational institutions should have prior approval of the draft MoU or agreement from the UGC. How many Indian educational institutions have obtained UGC’s approval of the draft MoU or agreement till date?
UGC’s reply: No information is available
How many foreign educational institutions have followed the procedure of taking UGC’s approval, ie under section 5 of University Grants Commission (Promotion and Maintenance of standards of Academic Collaboration between India and Foreign Educational Institution Regulations 2012)? In how many cases has the UGC issued letters of approval to MoUs signed between foreign educational institutions and Indian educational institutions? Kindly name all such Indian educational institutions and name of the respective foreign educational institutions with whom they have collaborated.
UGC’s reply: No information is available
Has UGC approved collaborations between (a) Pearl Academy with Nottingham Trent University, UK (b) Modart Academy/Vogue Academy with Istituto Modartech, Italy (c) International Institute of Hotel Management, Badarpur, with Edinburgh Napier University or University of West London,  (d) Indian Institute of Art & Design from Kingston University, London, (e) Lisaa Institute with Lisaa (France), (f) GD Goenka Fashion School with Politecnico di Milano (g) JD Institute of Fashion Technology with Istituto Marangoni (h) INIFD with Istituto di Moda, Burgo, Milan, Italy. 
UGC’s reply: No information is available
If an Indian educational institution collaborates with a foreign  institute to grant degree through an MoU which doesn’t have UGC’s approval, what will be the status of such degrees?
UGC’s reply: No information is available

PMO refuses information under RTI on PEB scam action

Hindustan Times: Bhopal: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
The prime minister’s office (PMO) has refused to divulge information under the right to information (RTI) on action initiated by PM Narendra Modi on a memorandum, submitted by a delegation of Congress leaders, demanding a CBI probe into the Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam.
Replying to the RTI application dated June 8, filed by activist Ajay Dubey, the PMO’s central public information officer, BK Roy, said that giving out the information was not possible as ‘compiling it would lead to disproportionate diversion of resources of the PMO’. The reply, dated June 24, was received on Wednesday.
A delegation of Congress leaders, including AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, former union ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal had met Modi on March 18, submitting ‘solid evidence’ on the alleged direct involvement of MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the scam. They had urged Modi ‘to take the case in his hands’.
Dubey had sought photocopies of the directives, note-sheets and letters written by Modi after this (copies of the RTI application and PMO’s reply are available with HT). But the PMO wanted Dubey to specify the documents/letters he wanted, as compiling all the information would be otherwise difficult.
Speaking to HT, Dubey said, “This is such a mega scam where many involved people have died. But the PM’s office is taking it too lightly. How many letters could the PM have written or how many directives could he have issued on the matter? Why should its compilation divert resources?”

In India, two civilians get killed in police firing everyday

DNA: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
According to information obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI), in 35,753 recorded incidents of police firing 17,064 civilians lost lives since 1988. The same RTI also noted that 2,832 police personnel have lost their lives during the same period, while a staggering 33,046 sustained injuries.
As many as four incidents of police firing which claim on an average two civilians' lives are taking place on a daily basis in the country, going by the last 25 years' data. The staggering data has yet again raised concerns among the fraternity working for civil rights who claim that the data is quite an evidence on how Supreme Court and High Court guidelines have been and continue to be violated by police forces across the country.
The data, compiled by National Crime Bureau Record from 1988 to 2013, shows 18,710 civilians have been injured during incidents of police firing all over the country with states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh (undivided), Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir registering the maximum number of casualities.
People's Watch (Tamil Nadu) executive director Henri Tiphagne, who had led an independent fact-finding team to investigate the 'encounter' killings into Seshachalam forests in Andhra, said the extremely poor record of prosecution of police officers involved in firing incidents and encounters "emboldens the police to commit more of such incidents". Tiphange was also a member of the core group of NGOs that worked with the National Human Rights Committee during 2001-2011 period.
"The numbers show an utter disregard to the Constitution of this country, guidelines of the Supreme Court, High Court and NHRC directives. Moreover, while NHRC tries its best to compensate victims, the record for prosecuting police officers is very bad," he said.
The highest number of civilian causalities in police firing was recorded in Punjab with as many as 3,803 people loosing their lives. The RTI, which does not include the data from the year 1998, shows that 2,432 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir and 2,098 in Andhra. As many as 1,574 civilians were killed in Maharashtra, while the toll in Bihar was recorded at 1,152.
South Delhi-based RTI activist Ved Pal, who had filed the application last month, said data on killings of and by naxalities or terrorists receives a lot of attention but civilian deaths at the hand of the state is rarely discussed. "The deaths are of civilians and it is not a good sign that police kill 17,000 of them," said Pal.
In the North Eastern states, Assam recorded 665 killings while the insurgency-hit Manipur registered a surprising 67 civilian deaths. It is, however, to be noted that the figures from insurgency-hit states, including J&K, Manipur and Punjab, do not include deaths during the counter insurgency operations in which Army personnel operated alongside local police. The data also does not include deaths of suspected militants.The record does not show any causalities.
During the same period J& K recorded the highest number of deaths of police officers with 573 followed by 381 in Punjab. It is interesting to note that the data shows a staggering disparity between the number of injured and killed in the state of Punjab during late 80s and early 90s post Khalistan movement. While a colossal 3,786 civilians were killed between 1988 to 1993, a total of 130 people sustained injuries in police action.
As many as 275 personnel were killed in Andhra, 158 in Maharashtra and 161 in Bihar during the same period. Also 162 police officers were killed in Assam while Manipur recorded deaths of 25 personnel. In the national capital 78 people were killed in police firing while three officers were killed in 208 incidents till 2013.

‘Make staff transfer, posting info public’

The Shillong Times: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
The information related to employees’ transfer and posting should be put in public domain promptly to reduce the number of RTI applications, the Centre said on Wednesday.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has written to all central government ministries asking them to comply with Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and suo motu disclose all governance related information in public domain. “Access to information should be made user-friendly for which appropriate information technology infrastructure should be suitable designed, developed and operationalised,” it said.
The DoPT has also asked the public authorities with high public dealings to put in place an effective system to redress grievances of affected persons, in order to minimise the burden of servicing RTI applications. “In order to reduce the number of RTI applications relating to service matters, the information relating to recruitment, promotion and transfers should be brought into public domain promptly,” it said.
The direction comes following a recommendation of a committee of experts to further strengthen implementation of suo motu disclosure of information under the transparency law by central government departments. The departments have been also asked to incorporate matters relating to the virtues of transparency, open government and RTI law in their training modules for professional upgradation of employees.
“The retention and maintenance of specified documents for specified duration should be clearly spelt by each public authority in respect of its documents,” the communique said. (PTI)

AFSPA functioning without subordinate rules: Amnesty

DNA: New Delhi: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
Concluding that accountability was still missing for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, a leading international civil rights watchdog here on Wednesday said even after 56 years of enactment of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), there has been no attempt to frame rules for its operationalisation. "There has been no subordinate legislation or no statutory rules to operate the AFSPA," said Amnesty International researchers, while releasing a report 25-years of the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir.
Further, while the Disturbed Area Act (DAA), which enables operationalisation of the AFSPA has to undergo a mandatory review after every six months, the Amnesty has found that governments have hardly followed this legal recourse.
The 72-page report, titled 'Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir' has analysed the legality of the AFSPA and also documented over 100 cases of human rights violations committed between 1990 and 2013. It also contains 58 case studies of alleged excesses by the armed forces in the state.
"One of the primary facilitators of impunity is the existence of Section 7 of the AFSPA under which security forces are protected from prosecution for alleged human rights violations. This legal provision mandates prior executive permission from central or state authorities for prosecution of a member of the security forces," the report reads.
Citing many instances where its RTI applications failed to get a response, Amnesty has also called for making the information about the cases pertaining to human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir public.
While the report acknowledges progress on a few cases like the Machil "fake" encounter, where five soldiers were sentenced to life imprisonment, the report concludes that most cases involving areas where AFSPA is used go un-investigated. "The convictions in the Machil case were a welcome measure. But for justice to be consistently delivered, security force personnel accused of human rights violations should be prosecuted in civilian courts," said Divya Iyer, research manager, Amnesty International.

Lake in Patancheru parcelled into 182 plots!

Times of India: Hyderabad: Thursday, 02 July 2015.
If you think lakes in the city would be full to the brim this mon soon after the desiltation work carried out under Mission Kakatiya, think again - especially in the case of water bodies under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) limits.
Take for instance, the fate of the 17acre Shetti Kunta Lake in Ameenpur gram panchayat (survey no. 947) in Patancheru mandal of Medak district. Instead of a scenic water body, what we have is a concrete jungle. The lake bed has almost completely disappeared, thanks to the housing layout permission for 182 plots given by the panchayat authorities in violation of all norms.
The information was unearthed by an NGO, Human Rights & Consumer Protection Cell (HRCPC) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. To their query, the panchayat secretary admitted in his reply dated June 24 (a copy of which is with TOI) that they had issued permission to take up construction activity on the lake bed.
"What is the use of the HMDA's Lake Protection Committee (LPC) identifying 2,857 lakes, including 176 under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits for conservation, when inordinate delay in demarcation of Full Tank Levels (FTLs) is leading to illegal construction and encroachment on lake beds?" questioned HRCPC president Thakur Rajkumar Singh.
Singh alleged that construction activity is in full swing on the Shetti Kunta lake bed, with not a single official from the revenue or irrigation departments or HMDA bothering to pre vent the encroachments.
In fact, HMDA officials admitted that they could not complete FTL demarcation of all lakes despite it being more than our years since the high court forced the government to constitute an LPC n a judgment in October 2010. "We could complete FTL demarcation of only 438 lakes (out of 2,857 lakes under HMDA limits). The delay is on the part of irrigation authorities as they are holding up the approval process. A list of 1,305 lakes with FTL markings has been pending approval in the irrigation department offices in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar for the last one year," said a senior HMDA official.
The official alleged that HMDA has forwarded a list of 25 lakes to the irrigation department in Medak for approving their FTL demarcation, but is yet to hear from them even after one year. Not surprisingly, the FTL approval for Shetti Kunta Lake too figures in this list. "We cannot upload the FTL details on the HMDA site unless the irrigation authorities clear them," the official said.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Som Narayana, the panchayat executive officer of Ameenpur, told TOI that they have issued layout permission for 182 plots in only 13 acres with a rider included in the House Conversion Permission that in case it is found that it violates any government order, the permission would stand cancelled.
"We know that there was a lake, but it was nowhere mentioned in any government record that it was lake bed (Shikam land). Hence, we gave away the permission," Som Narayana said, adding that construction of 60-70 houses is currently underway while in the case of another 100 plots, the foundations are being laid.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

CIDC answerable under the RTI Act: CIC

Livemint: New Delhi: Wednesday, 01 July 2015.
The Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) comes under the Right to Information Act, Central Information Commission (CIC) has held, rejecting the CIDC’s contention that it was a society, independent of any government funding and not covered under the transparency law. The CIDC website describes it as being set up by the erstwhile Planning Commission jointly with the construction industry to take up activities for the development of the Indian construction industry.
The case relates to an RTI query filed by activist Subhash Agrawal, who did not get any response to his queries related to file notings on setting up of CIDC by the Planning Commission.
The CIDC was not responding to the RTI application. In a hearing before the CIC’s full bench, it claimed it was a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 formed by various constituents of construction industry primarily comprising construction companies and industry associations as per orders of the Planning Commission.
Although CIDC was started with a corpus from the Planning Commission, it claimed that it has now attained self-sufficiency in funds and independent of any government funding and therefore cannot be termed as public authority under the RTI Act. The bench comprising the chief information commissioner Vijai Sharma and information commissioners Sharat Sabharwal and Yashovardhan Azad, said it has been stated by the CIDC that the annual reports of CIDC are presented in Parliament, which indicates that the government exercises control over CIDC. “The records reveal that the CIDC officers are making use of the Planning Commission’s name i.e. by printing the name of ‘Planning Commission, Government of India’ on their visiting cards, as does the website,” it said.
The bench said there is unanimity of opinion that up to 2007, the chairman of the board of governors of the CIDC was nominated by the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and that the chairman was also heading the managing committee of the CIDC.
The Planning Commission continues to be a permanent member of the CIDC, with total exemptions regarding entrance and/or annual subscriptions. Presently, the Planning Commission is represented in CIDC’s governing body by advisor (Transport), Planning Commission,” the bench said. It pointed out that 13 out of the 28 members of the CIDC governing body are either government servants or from some or the other government institution.
The bench said the monetary contributions from government organisations account as public money and aggregate to 36% of initial corpus `1.99 crore in 1988. “...out of the total corpus in 1998, 48% (by the Planning Commission) and 36% (government organisations)= 84% of the finance was contributed by the government directly or indirectly. This corpus aided the CIDC in building up its own infrastructure and the edifice of the petitioner’s substratum was built by such funding,” it said. The bench said it cannot be argued by the CIDC that no substantial grant-in-aid is received and therefore it could not be regarded as “public authority”.
“In the light of the foregoing discussion, the role of the government is evidently deep and pervasive in the respondent organisation right from its inception to funding, control and operations....We are of the considered opinion that the CIDC is substantially financed by the Central Government and is a fit organisation to be defined as ‘public authority’...under the RTI Act,” the bench said.

Gujarat HC notice over vacant posts in state information commission

Times of India: Ahmedabad: Wednesday, 01 July 2015.
Gujarat high court on Tuesday issued notice to the state government in response to a PIL seeking direction to fill up five vacant posts of information commissioners besides Chief Information Commissioner in the state information commission.
Petitioner Praful Desai has filed this petition and urged the court to ask the government to appoint five additional information commissioners besides the present strength in the commission so that the appeals under the RTI Act could be finalized expeditiously.
Desai submitted that looking at increasing pendency of RTI applications and appeals, an RTI activist Amit Jethava had filed a PIL and the HC ordered for appointment of two information commissioners. Two years later, Desai himself filed a PIL because pendency was increasing again. The court again ordered for appointment and the commission got two information commissioners.
However, the latest two appointments were canceled by the high court on basis of Desai's petition that the persons appointed as information commissioners did not fulfill the required criteria. Now the government should fill the vacant posts so that people who seek information under the RTI laws get justice quickly. At present, it takes two years for the commission to finalize an appeal.
Further hearing is kept on July 31.

Streetlights missing, officials in dark

Times of India: Meerut: Wednesday, 01 July 2015.
After his wife met with an accident near Begum Bagh in 2014, professor S K Ghai filed a Right to Information query asking the Nagar Nigam why street lights in some of the city's oldest areas have still not been fixed. Though Ghai filed the application in June 2014 and the RTI Act stipulates that replies must come within 45 days, he received his reply on June 23 - almost a year later.
While the Nagar Nigam said all dark spots mentioned in the query have been fixed since then, Ghai claims only one of them has been repaired.
"Last year, my wife was riding her scooter at night along the dark Chakbandi Road. A passerby inadvertently spat betel juice at her. In trying to avoid being spattered, she swerved to the side and fell into a drain. After the accident, I filed an RTI query asking the Nagar Nigam why street lights in the area were not working. Even though I should have received a reply within 45 days, I received one after a full year," Ghai, a professor of commerce at NAS Degree College told TOI.
He added saying, "I had enquired about streets in five places including Begum Bagh, one of the oldest parts of the city. It is a large area and most of the colonies here had been set up just after Partition. Despite the area being in existence for so many year, basic amenities like street lights have not been provided till date."
The reply that Ghai received from the Nagar Nigam on June 23 this year said street lights had been fixed in all the five places. However, Ghai says lights have been repaired at only one spot on Bhupal Singh Road.
At Chakbandi Road, where his wife met with the accident, street lights have not even been installed, let alone be repaired.
"How can they fix something that isn't even there? The reply I got from Nagar Nigam is not only incomplete but a downright lie," said an irate Ghai.
The lights inside Ashoka Colony, outside the eastern gate of Ashoka Colony and outside the Begum Bagh mosque have not been fixed and the street connecting Dr Bhupal Singh Road and Chakbandi Road does not have a single sodium street light.
"An extremely dangerous situation exists in these areas. Not only does it increase the risk of accidents, it also makes these residential colonies unsafe for women. If some crime against women takes place in the night, the Nagar Nigam will be at fault too," the educator said.
Meanwhile, civic authorities are absolutely in the dark about the matter.
Speaking to TOI, Nagar Nigam's executive engineer Moinuddin, said, "I am not aware of the details of this matter. Since the RTI query was filed a year ago, I can't say exactly what happened in the interim. But since a complaint has come from this area, I will send a team there today so we know what is wrong. If an area does not have street lights, we will install them. It is our responsibility and we will fulfill it."

Trace Files, Give RTI Info, Civic Body Told

Indian Express: Coimbatore: Wednesday, 01 July 2015.
State Information Commissioner Christopher Nelson has directed Deputy Commissioner P Gandhimathi to trace the files which are reportedly missing from the Corporation’s office.
The order relates to an RTI petition made by S Kanagasundaram on May 17, 2013, for which answers have not been provided so far. The Information Commissioner has also ordered Gandhimathi to provide the information to the applicant and to take disciplinary action against two Public Information Officers (PIOs) who failed to give the answers for two years.
Kanagasundaram had sought copies of the layout approval and licence given to Nethra Nagar in Kalappatty and details of the amenities provided there by the Corporation and TWAD Board. He had also asked whether the 40-feet Road had been handed over to the Corporation.
“I have been repeatedly asking the Corporation and the Local Planning Authority for the layout approvals as the land was encroached. I petitioned them for the information after Kalapatty was merged with the Corporation. However, officials of both the Corporation and LPA said they had no files related to Nethra Nagar,” said Kanagasundaram.
The PIO has not replied so far to eight queries from Kanagasundaram. The Information Commissioner has therefore asked Deputy Commissioner Gandhimathi to get a written explanation from the PIO for not imposing the maximum fine of `25,000 on him under Rule 20(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
He has also directed Gandhimathi to visit the relevant section and trace the files, under Section 18(3)(b) of the RTI Act, as the PIO has been evading a reply for two years. After verifying the files, the information sought by Kanagasundaram should be provided to him within 30 days.
The Information Commissioner has also recommended disciplinary action against two PIOs for providing false information and for not providing information sought for two years under Rule 20(2) of the RTI Act.

Sugumar Among 69 who retired on June 30

Indian Express: Coimbatore: Wednesday, 01 July 2015.
Executive Engineer K Sugumar, who has been accused of causing a loss of nearly `14 crore to the City Corporation, retired from duty on Tuesday.
Along with Sugumar, 68 other Corporation employees, most of them sanitary workers, also retired from duty on Tuesday. A function was held in this regard at the Corporation’s main office on Tuesday evening.
Subramanian, a retired superintendent of the Corporation who has levelled charges against  Sugumar, criticised the decision allowing him to retire.
“The Corporation’s Public Information Officer had informed me in an RTI reply that there were 122 Local Audit objections pending against Sugumar on June 26. It is impossible to clear these within four days. The retirement is against the principle natural justice,” Subramanian said.
Subramanian had petitioned Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and the Directorate of Municipal Administration demanding that Sugumar should not be allowed to retire. He also said that the government should recover nearly `14 crore from Sugumar, who had as the authorised official made illegal payments for various works of the Corporation.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

विधवा के नाम पर सरपंच लेती रही पेंशन , आरटीआई में खुलासा

Patrika: Jind: Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
गांव खातला की एक विधवा महिला की करीब 25 महीनों की पेंशन हड़पने का खुलासा हुआ है। ये खुलासा आरटीआई के माध्यम से हुआ है। आरटीआई कार्यकर्ता खातला निवासी राजबीर ने बताया कि उसके द्वारा गांव की सरपंच वेदपति ने अपने कार्यकाल में किए गए कार्यों का ब्योरा मांगा था। जिसमें करीब 2892 पेज का जवाब मिला। जिसमें सरपंच की अनेक संदेहस्पद्ध मामले सामने आ रहे है। जिसके तहत सरपंच पर अनेक आरोप लगा जा सकते है। इसमें सबसे बड़ा मामला पेंशन को हड़पने का है।
करीब 30 हजार रुपए की पेंशन हड़पी उन्होंने बताया कि 2 अप्रैल 2011 में गांव निवासी प्रलाहद की मौत के बाद सरकार द्वारा उसकी पत्नी मीना व उसके दो बच्चों के नाम से करीब 1150 रुपए की पेंशन दी जाती थी। मीना ने सितम्बर में दूसरी शादी कर ली, शादी के बाद मीना ने 10 अक्टूबर 2011 को ही पंचायत को शादी की सूचना देते हुए पेंशन को बंद करने की अपील की थी। जिसके बाद मीना ने पेंशन की राशी नहीं ली। राजबीर ने बताया कि आरटीआई में पता चला कि मीना द्वारा पेंशन कटवाने के बाद भी उसकी नवंबर 2013 तक पेंशन चलती रही। जिसको फर्जी हस्ताक्षर व अंगुठों द्वारा हड़पने का कार्य चलता रहा। इस प्रकार से करीब 30 हजार रुपए की पेंशन राशी हड़प ली। उन्होंने कहा कि इस मामले की शिकायत उन्होंने डीसी जींद को की है।
मीना के पति की मौत के बाद वह करीब दो साल तक गांव में ही रही थी, उन्हें नहीं पता कि उसकी शादी कब हुई और ना ही मीना ने उन्हें कोई लिखित में इसकी जानकारी दी है। आरटीआई में जो उस पर आरोप लगाए गए है वो आरोप झुठे है।
वेदपति सरपंच खातला
इस मामले को लेकर जांच की जा रही है। 30 जून को सरपंच पर लगाए गए आरोपों को लेकर सभी दस्तावेज मंगवाए गए है। मीना पेंशन कितने दिन ले है, ये रिकार्ड से ही पता चलेगा। जांच के बाद कोई भी दोषी पाया जाता है, तो उचित कानूनी कार्रवाई की जाएगी।
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Veer Narmad South Gujarat University students can get answer-book copy under RTI

Times of India: Surat: Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (VNSGU) students can check copy of their answer-book by paying fees of Rs 500 and get photo-copy paying Rs 2 per page charge under Right to Information Act (RTI). The decision was taken in a syndicate meeting held at VNSGU on Monday. Earlier in 2014, VNSGU announced to give copy of answer-book for Rs 1,000 fees but the decision was not implemented.
Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had carried out demonstration and demanded to implement the decision. The decision was not implemented despite various representations due to internal politics within VNSGU circles. Sources in VNSGU informed that a group of faculties and administrative officials were against the implementation.
For the copy of answer-book a student is supposed to apply in prescribed format with fees. For each answer-book Rs 500 will be charged as administrative expenses while Rs 2 per page is charged for photo-copy expenses, VNSGU officials informed.
"The decision was taken in past to implement it in exam of 2015. Since the syndicate approved the decision now the copy of answer-book will be given immediately. An approval was awaited from syndicate," said Dakshesh Thakar, vice-chancellor of VNSGU. Students can get benefit of the new arrangement from Tuesday.

Mahrashtra SIC fails to provide data on its own orders

Economic Times: Mumbai: Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
Maharashtra State Information Commission (SIC) does not have information on its own orders that were challenged in courts, an RTI query revealed.
The RTI was filed by city-based activist Anil Galgali seeking details of the orders it had passed that were challenged in courts.
However, desk officer and Public Information Officer of the Commission M Kamble informed Galgali recently that no compiled information was available with the office in this regard.
The Commission also informed him that no special lawyers were appointed to represent it in the court.
Based on the reply, Galgali filed an appeal following which the Appellate Authority B B Gavade issued instructions to the Commission asking it to provide updated information within the next 15 days.
Talking to PTI, Galgali said keeping records of the orders that were challenged in courts is mandatory for the Information Commission but it was shocking to know that it does not have such a data.
"It's extremely disappointing and seems intentional on the Commission's part that it does not keep records of its own orders," he said.
The activist said he has written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis and the State Information CommissionerRatnakar Gaikwad in this regard.
"I have sought the CM's direction to the Commission to upload all this information on the website and also appoint lawyers to defend their challenged cases," he added.

Not right to withhold information, PIOs told

Pune Mirror: Pune: Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
CIC cracks the whip on information officers, asks them to be more helpful towards RTI applicants.
After it was noticed that several Public Information Officers (PIO) not only deny information to Right to Information (RTI) applicants, but also call the latter to the office for inspection of files, chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad has issued a circular, asking for this practice to be stopped immediately. Doing so defeats the purpose and motive of the RTI Act, Gaikwad said, clarifying that if the information is not lengthy, the applicant should be informed about the number of pages and charges incurred and once s/he pays up, the information should be made available.
The order further states that if there is a demand to inspect a particular file, the applicant should be given the specific file number, page number and other details. In case the applicant fails to visit the office on the given date, s/he should be given two alternative dates for the inspections. If the applicant isn't comfortable with these dates, he can ask the PIO to allot other convenient dates. And, if the PIOs are themselves not available, then they will put their subordinates or assistants in charge, so that the applicants aren't inconvenienced. It is further suggested that the PIO's contact number and email ID be given to the applicant.
RTI activists from the state had repeatedly been complaining to the CIC, urging him to issue orders to this effect. They claim that applicants are often confused about the exact location of the files they seek. Moreover, the information officers deliberately push the applicants to the record room.
"There were several complaints to the CIC about there not being correct implementation of RTI laws and this circular is an outcome of that. The CIC hasn't mentioned anything new; it has merely asked PIOs to implement what is already there in the law," said Vijay Kumbhar, RTI activist and founder of Surajya Sangharsh Samiti, adding that the municipal corporation in Mumbai has also issued similar instructions. "It's time that civic bodies in Pune also follow the BMC's lead in doing so," he said.
Another RTI activist, Ramesh Dharmawat, said, "The information officers are always trying to blunt the RTI Act by using tricks and excuses. The government needs to impose hefty fees against those found guilty of doing so."
APIO from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) blamed chronic staff shortage for having made such excuses. "We are already stretched due to manpower shortage. The responsibility of becoming PIOs is an additional responsibility imposed upon us. There are 10 applications coming in everyday. We might give tricky answers to the RTI applicants in order to dispose the applications within the given time limit," he said.
Another PIO, working in the health department, said, "We answer only those questions which are in public interest. There are some so-called activists who ask personal information or seek data that may create trouble internally. In such cases, we use tricks to avoid giving out the information. From our earlier experience, we know that more than half the people never bother appealing to the appellate authority."