As reported by Shalini Nair in expressindia.com on 25 May 2008:
BMC yet to open up, despite Disclosure Act - ExpressIndia.Com
BMC yet to open up, despite Disclosure Act
Mumbai, May 24 Among other things, PDA requires municipal corporations to reveal audited financial statements showing the balance sheet, receipts and expenditure every quarter; also, spending on providing major services and details of major works
It was supposed to be a step above the Right to Information Act as it requires urban local bodies to voluntarily disclose information about their performance from time to time.
But the city’s municipal corporation is way behind the March 31 deadline for implementing the Public Disclosure Act, a mandatory reform to be eligible for project funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The Act had been hailed as one of the most important reforms that would ensure better governance and accountability.
The Maharashtra Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils (Second Amendment) Act 2007, popularly known as the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), came into force on 26th December 2007. Among other things, it requires municipal corporations to reveal their audited financial statements showing the balance sheet, receipts and expenditure every quarter.
It also makes it compulsory for civic bodies to reveal the expenditure incurred on providing major services and details of major works, time of completion and disbursement made, among other things. The information has to be updated periodically and opened up for public scrutiny through the media or the BMC website.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner P K Charankar said the BMC had so far completed 70 per cent of the reforms mandated under the JNNURM. As for the PDA, he said that he did not have much information, “As far as the budget goes, we have disclosed our expenditure for 2006-07. The expenditure for 2007-08 will take some more time.”
According to Chief Accountant (Finance) Ram Dhas, the delay is partially due to the problem with the SAP system implementation. “Also, we received the copy of the Act from the state government only recently. The Act will be implemented within a fortnight. There are 13 items that have to be disclosed. Most of its is already ready.”
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) got its act together following a letter by local RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who pointed out the need to implement the PDA at the earliest. “Recently, I received a letter from the PMC telling me that all their records are in place and I could inspect them whenever I want,” said Kumbhar, adding that it is one of the major obligations under JNNURM conditions.
The PDA would help citizens monitor each and every work in their local area, he said, adding that “for instance, in case of a road work, documents on the exact estimates, plans, money disbursed will be available for instant public scrutiny anytime.”
RTI activist Kewal Semlani terms the BMC’s failure to implement the act as “complete laxity” on its part. “Look at how proactive the PMC has been,” he said. Semlani said that in case BMC does not put up the information in the public domain by the month end, RTI activists have decided that they would take up the matter with the Union Urban Development ministry as well as the World Bank. “This would lead to a stay in releasing BMC’s next installment of funds. Presently, the RTI Act also requires suo motu disclosure of all the above information, however with the PDA there is a fear of penal action and hence it is more effective,” said Semlani.
IGP, SP issued notices by state information panel
As reported in Navhind Times, NT NETWORK Tuesday, June 3, 2008
MAPUSA The State information Commission has issued notices to the IGP, Mr Kishan Kumar and the superintendent of police (headquarters), Mr Allan Dâ€™sa on an appeal filed by the dismissed PSI, Mr Nerlon Albuquerque.
The dismissed PSI filed an appeal before the State Information Commission after his request to Mr Dâ€™sa who is the public information officer and the IGP who is the first appellate authority was turned down.
It may be recalled that Mr Nerlon was dismissed from service over the infamous Scarlette case based on an inquiry conducted by DySP, Mr Nilu Raut Desai wherein Mr Nerlon was indicted for improper investigations and treating the case as a mere suicide. Raising doubts over the authenticity and genuineness of the inquiry conducted against him without seeking his presence, Mr Nerlon had sent a notice to the SP (HQ) and IGP requesting them to furnish the inquiry report. His request was turned down.
When contacted Mr Nerlon said that not taking his statement during the course of inquiry and now by not providing him the inquiry report clearly speaks about the malicious motives of the concerned officers and added that it is obvious that the enquiry is conducted in a biased manner with the sole intention of dismissing him.
â€œIt seems that the IGP is trying to safeguard interests of certain persons by not allowing a fair enquiry in the matter. Why else did he dismiss me and scuttle the process of the enquiry?â€ Mr Nerlon questioned.
Reiterating his demand for a fair enquiry, Mr Nerlon stated that he wanted the enquiry to be conducted by an independent body given the fact that the police department would be pressurized under the influence of the IGP in conducting a biased enquiry.
Mr Nerlon further challenged the IGP to show any significant investigation conducted in the case after the investigation was taken over from him. "In spite of several requests, why did the superiors not permit me to register an offence and arrest the accused?" he asked.
The IGP allegedly has been pressurized by certain vested interests to dismiss me and I will not take this lightly,â€ Mr Nerlon added.