Thursday, February 02, 2017

Granular details of MLA, MP funds' use to go online

DNA: Mumbai: Thursday, February 02, 2017.
Soon, residents of Mumbai, as well as Maharashtra, will be able to see just how much money their local representatives are spending on their constituencies, the kind of work on which the money is being spent, and the areas in which it is being spent, with just a click of a mouse. Additionally, they will be able to know the reasons for selecting a particular area for a project and the reasons for the project, as the letter written by the elected representatives for disbursal of MP and MLA funds will also be available online.
All of this will be facilitated by an order of the state information commission (SIC) directing all Collector offices in Mumbai and the state to post updated monthly details of MLA and MP funds.
The order was passed by the SIC after the Collector's office failed to upload the details. The order dated January 30 was passed by state chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad on a complaint filed by Bhaskar Prabhu. The information to be uploaded on the websites of respective Collectors' offices will include the places and works for which the money is to be used, letters written by elected representatives for disbursal of the money, details of the amount sanctioned, tender details, contract details, and details of money disbursed, progress of work, and other details related to the funds they receive.
Prabhu, in his complaint, stated that the collector's office had not updated information since 2015. The information posted online seemed to be suspicious, as all the money approved for all works of MLAs and MPs funds was uniform, at Rs 2.99 lakhs. This was posted only on the city collector's website, while the websites of other collector offices did not even post any information.
Prabhu had sought details to conduct a 'social audit' of works that can be carried out by citizens under section 2 (j) the RTI Act. His organisation has been conducting social audits of money spent, materials used and outcome of works undertaken on the city's municipal gardens. "The order is to be appreciated. It is the beginning of a transparent system wherein one can get information that people want at one place," he said.