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  1. Atul Patankar

    RTI flaws BU’s seat allocation

    As reported by Ashwini M Sripad at expressbuzz.com on 10 Nov 200 BANGALORE: Bangalore University (BU) authorities might claim that the recent counselling for various PG courses was transparent. But it appears to be far from truth.Sameena Taj, who scored 75.25 per cent in Bio-chemistry, was initially given a ranking of 234, which was then lowered to 261.Asked for explanation, officials said that after the first list was announced, BU called for correction from students and later published the final list, says her father Mohammed Iqbal who learned of it after filing an RTI.The reply to the RTI said there are 363 seats for MSc in Biochemistry. As per the Karnataka Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes (recruitment etc. reservation) Rule, 1990, 50 per cent of the seats are to be reserved for general category, 15 per cent for SC, three per cent for ST, four per cent for Cat-I, 15 per cent to Cat-2A, four per cent to Cat-2b, four per cent to 3A and five per cent to 3B category.However, the RTI revealed that BU clearly violated this rule while distributing the seats.The government of Karnataka has reserved 50 pc seats for Backward Classes, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, 32 pc of which are reserved for the Backward Classes.Before counselling, Maharani’s Science College for Women in its brochure, announced the intake of their MSc in Bio-chemistry is 30 seats. However, it was reduced to 15 with an explanation that the college does not have sufficient infrastructure.It added that under no circumstances will the original intake be restored. But the reply by BU to the RTI by Mohammad Iqbal reveals that the college admitted 16 students. Interestingly, the number of seats noted in the reply to the RTI differs from the information uploaded in the college website.The RTI has also misled Mohammad Iqbal. BU in its replied that it has sent enclosed copies to some of his questions, but they have not enclosed any information, Iqbal complains.Sameena was admitted to CMR college, situated on the Outer Ring Road by paying Rs 28,000. “My daughter has to catch two buses. Her college is in a deserted place and I don’t want to risk her security, so she does not go to college,” her father says. Source: RTI flaws BU?s seat allocation
  2. As reported at dnaindia.com on October 30, 2009 The Right to Information Act is intended at making information shrouded in red-tapism and official apathy available to the public. However, many experts feel the Act is yet to yield the desired results. N Vikramsimha, an RTI activist and trustee of Mahiti Hakku Adhiyan Kendra (MHAK), says that even though only a small number of people seek information under RTI, there is a piling up of applications because they are not cleared promptly. He says that there is also a need to change the mindset of public information officers to make the RTI Act effective. How aware are Bangaloreans about RTI? In August last year, we conducted a survey of 5,000 people. Only 3% of the surveyed population was aware of RTI. Some said that they never used the RTI because they felt it helps only the media to get information. Probably, there is greater awareness now, but a lot still needs to be done. When we started two years ago, we were hoping to use the RTI Act to get information related to taxation. We thought taxation would be a major concern, but we got only about 5-6 applications. People were keen on more information regarding law violation, encroachment, and land problems and disputes. Now, the RTI has become a tool for people to settle grievances. According to a national survey, the Bangalore and Delhi municipalities receive the most number of RTI applications — about 6,000 to 7,000 per year. The information commissions are not able to clear the applications fast enough. But if only a small number of people are using the RTI, why are the applications piling up? In a process, there are several dynamics at play. All the RTI applications filed with the BBMP get held up at the information commission. This clogs the entire process. Delay in dissemination of information affects people in the rural areas. They do not have access to the internet, since their areas face electricity shortage. Filing an RTI application then becomes an excruciating task for them. Is filing an RTI application a cumbersome process? It is not. The whole process is very simple. It looks difficult because the PIOs (public information officers) make it seem difficult. They wait till the 29th day to inform the applicants about the status of their applications. (PIOs have to respond within 30 days to RTI applications). It has now become a practice to delay the process of giving out information. Why is obtaining information under RTI Act so difficult? I think it is because of a set mindset. The officers need to see themselves as public servants or those serving the people. They are accountable to the people, but they forget that. They often feel they are accountable only to their managers. There is a need for that mindset to change. In fact, interestingly, even countries where the RTI concept has been in vogue for 30-40 years are grappling with that kind of mindset. Source: 'Public info officers make RTI process difficult' - dnaindia.com
  3. Atul Patankar

    RTI activist gets ‘cover’

    As reported by Atul Chaturvedi on bangaloremirror.com on October 29, 2009 An RTI activist who was getting threat calls has been provided police cover for the first time in the state. Ashok Halagalli, 35, an advocate, had filed an RTI application on Jan 30 this year seeking asset details of Rajeev Chawla, Commissioner, Survey, Settlement and Land Records, Belgaum. Chawla was earlier the joint director of Survey Settlement Board. The same day, Prasad Kulkarni, deputy director of land records, Belgaum met Ashok at his house and asked him to withdraw his application. Interestingly, Chawla objected to the disclosure of information and his application was rejected. THREAT CALLS Later, Ashok received a call from Bangalore threatening him with physical harm if he did not withdraw his application. As RTI activist Venkatesh was murdered near Papareddy Palya earlier this year, it seems the police did not want to take chances this time. After the threats, Ashok filed a complaint at the Malmaruti police station on Aug 11 and sought security as there was every possibility of him being attacked or killed. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Ashok said, “I received a call from a Bangalore number. The caller did not reveal his identity but threatened to kill me. He asked me to withdraw my application. I brought the matter to the notice of Karnataka Information Commission, which asked the government to provide me with security.” FEELING SAFE NOW On Sept 9, the chief secretary wrote to DG & IG Ajai Kumar Singh and asked him to give him protection. “On Tuesday, I got security cover from the SP’s office. Now, I feel more safer and I can think of fighting further,” he said. On why he sought to know details of Chawla’s assets, he said, “Chawla was the head of the e-procurement department and Nemmadi Kendras were opened all over the state and computers installed in all the tahsildar offices. Still, the department is not functioning in a proper manner. So I sought details of his assets when he was the joint director of the Survey Settlement Department.” A LONG WAIT N Vikram Simha, a trustee of RTI Study Centre and Kriya Katte, said, “It was a long wait for us to get police protection for Ashok. At last, we have succeeded. It was a collective effort; a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ manoeuvring and forceful arguments before the KIC by the RTI Study Centre was required. We had to struggle at every step. The murder of activist Venkatesh earlier this year convinced them that police protection was needed.” Source: RTI activist gets ?cover?, News - City - Bangalore Mirror,Bangalore Mirror
  4. Atul Patankar


    As reported by ATUL CHATURVEDI at bangaloremirror.com on October 28, 2009. An RTI filed by Bangalore Mirror revealed that the much-touted Rs 3,000 crore North-South-East elevated corridor, meant to considerably ease the city’s traffic problems, doesn’t even have a detailed project report Transport Minister R Ashok and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena have been repeatedly talking about a Rs 3,000 crore North-South-East Corridor (NSE) that doesn’t even exist on paper. The project got Bangaloreans excited as it was supposed to significantly reduce their daily traffic woes. The duo had in fact claimed that a detailed project report (DPR) has been readied and work would kickstart shortly. But the reality is different: No project report pertaining to the NSE Corridor has been prepared. Bangalore Mirror found this out by filing an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act seeking a copy of the DPR. At one point prior to our filing the RTI, the government had categorically stated that the DPR for the NSE project has been prepared under the Swiss Challenge method and was awaiting clearance from the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development (ABIDe). When asked about the exact status of the DPR pertaining to the NSE project, BBMP Chief Engineer (major roads) Chikkarayappa said: “We haven’t prepared any DPR for the NSE corridor under Swiss Challenge. It was just a soft-drafted DPR and it has been rejected on technical grounds. Now we will be calling for a new proposal.” ELEVATED VIADUCT Sources in BBMP maintained that the NSE Corridor was mooted as part of the Rs 22,000 crore Capital Investment Plan (2009-12) titled ‘Bangalore-Our Goal and Vision’, conceived ahead of the BBMP polls. The plan, which has several other mega infrastructure projects in its bouquet, will be executed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model with financial contributions from the Bangalore Development Authority and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The NSE Corridor project envisaged a elevated viaduct linking the northern and southern parts of the city with the eastern side. While the North-South Corridor measured a distance of 16 kms (from Central Silk Board to Hebbal via Vellara Junction and Minsk Square), the Eastern connector is 12 kms (from Vellara Junction to Kundalahalli Junction via HAL Airport and Marathalli). The three elevated corridors were meant to strengthen arterial and sub-arterial roads. Well, going by the way the government announced the NSE corridor project without having done any groundwork, the project is likely to remain a non-starter. NSE PROJECT Elevated North-South corridor, cost Rs 1,800 crore Elevated eastern connectivity corridor from Vellara Junction to Kundalahalli, cost Rs 1,200 cr Deadline to complete the project, 2012 Now, project has been scrapped Source: http://www.bangaloremirror.com/printarticle.aspx?page=comments&action=add&sectid=1&contentid=2009102820091028005346934326b3ff&subsite=
  5. As reported by Krishnaprasad at hinduonnet.com on 23/10/2009 Pages missing in another file on land allotment to society BDA got wind of the missing file in September 2008 A dispute is on over the ownership of the ISKCON property in Bangalore Bangalore: A file in the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) relating to the building plan sanctioned for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) for construction of its temple in 1991-92 has gone missing. Also, another file related to allotment of land to ISKCON has been allegedly tampered with as some pages in the file are missing. The BDA got wind of the missing file in September 2008 when some persons sought details, under the Right to Information Act, of the plan sanctioned for construction of the ISKCON temple. Acting on it, the BDA Commissioner referred the matter to the Vigilance Wing, headed by a Superintendent of Police, for prosecuting employees and officers responsible for the loss. But the Vigilance Wing has so far not made any headway in locating the file. Copies of the ISKCON temple’s sanctioned plan surfaced in the Engineering Cell of the BDA soon after the matter was referred to the Vigilance Wing, but the original file with all other documents is still missing. Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Jagadish Shettar last week constituted a House Committee to look into the activities of ISKCON, Bangalore, including alleged financial irregularities, involvement in real estate business, misuse of funds granted under the midday meal scheme, and illegal collection of donations. All these charges have been levelled against it by a section of legislators. The missing file has also raised concerns about safety of files and documents pertaining to BDA properties. A dispute is on over the ownership of the ISKCON property in Bangalore between those who are currently managing it and ISKCON, Mumbai. While ISKCON, Mumbai, claims that ISKCON, Bangalore, is one of its branches, those managing the affairs of the latter claim it is an independent society and not a branch of ISKCON, Mumbai, which is the headquarters of the society in India. Meanwhile, the Vigilance Wing has identified an engineer who served in the BDA’s Engineering Cell from 1990 to 1999 and who was in charge of the documents in the authority. However, there are still no answers to the question of who could have benefited from the missing file. A senior official of the BDA told The Hindu that the missing file might serve as an important document in the case related to the ownership dispute. The BDA is not a party in the case. “As the instance of the missing file has pointed fingers at security of documents in the BDA, our priority is to trace the file and punish persons responsible for the loss,” said the officer. Source: The Hindu : Front Page : BDA file related to ISKCON property goes missing
  6. I had sent an important registered post (with AD) from kolkata to bangalore on 14th October, 2009. My registration number was 4846. The post is still to reach bangalore as of 23rd Oct,2009. Can anyone advise me what I need to do as it is critical that the documents in the post receive at the earliest?? Is there anyway to track the post without much delay???
  7. As reported by Sandeep Moudgal at deccanherald.com on October 2, 2009 A forest department decision to charge residents of Basavanagudi a fee for catching monkeys has made the people go bananas. With no funds to attend to this monkey business, the forest department recently came up with a novel idea: residents of B P Wadia Road at Basavanagudi which, of late, has been bearing the brunt of a monkey menace, have to cough up Rs 20,000 each if they have to have a respite from simian trouble. Venkatraman, a B P Wadia Road resident, said: “After I complained to the BBMP in June this year about the monkey menace in our locality, some forest officials and monkey-catchers were sent to do the job.” When a group of residents met a forest department official, they were allegedly asked to pay Rs 20,000 to the ‘contractors’ who would perform the job of trapping the troublesome primates. Stunned by the proposition, Venkatraman filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the forest department, seeking details on the decision to charge a fee to catch monkeys. Addressed to the Chief Conservator of Forests, the application, filed on July 16, 2009, sought responses on the following questions: Whether the Karnataka Municipality Act or any other rule authorised forest officials to charge a fee for catching monkeys in the city? What was the total number of complaints on monkey menace the forest department had received in the past 12 months? Since when have residents been asked to pay for such services and what was the total amount collected by the department in the past five years? Incomplete reply As a followup to the problem, on July 23 2009, the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) sent a letter to the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), a copy of which was acquired by the RTI applicant, asking the authorities to take necessary action to resolve the issue. In the letter, directions were given to ensure that the monkeys were to be caught with utmost care and “to charge the citizens for the service as the Forest Department has not received any funds this year for the work.” Further, the letter stated that the monkeys were to be caught in the presence of officials from the Animal and Husbandry Department, BBMP and forest department officials and subsequently released in the Bannerghatta National Forest. The DCF forwarded his superior officer’s instructions to the Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) who, in turn, directed the Range Officer for Bangalore (South) to perform the duty. It has been three months since the RTI was filed, but Venkatraman has not received any reply on his queries. Meanwhile, the primates have vanished from B P Wadia Road. Source: Monkey business makes residents go bananas
  8. As reported by Supriya Khandekar in bangalore.citizenmatters.in on 15 September 2008: Citizen Matters, Bangalore: Bangalore's deadly speed breakers - 15 September 2008 Bangalore's deadly speed breakers As if negotiating our dangerous road humps is not bad enough, hundreds of them are unauthorised, to boot. An RTI activist is on the war path to get the BBMP to streamline them. Did you know that of the innumerable road humps (or speed breakers) in the city, only 282 are authorised by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP)? All the others, according to the BBMP, are unauthorised and do not have any mention in their records. This fact was revealed when BBMP responded to a RTI application regarding the same recently. Most of us are troubled by the road humps we come across every day. It’s a common feeling that some of them are not required at all, while some of them appear to be hastily put up with no concern for ergonomics, causing damage to motorists’ spines and vehicles’ suspensions. A lot of these humps do not even have white lines marked on them so that they stand out from a distance. An authorised hump opposite Bethany High school near Koramangala police station, with faded markings. Pic: Supriya Khandekar. On 12th June last year, Anil Kumar, RTI activist and a member of Kria Katte, an NGO, filed an application to find out if all the road humps in the city were authorised. Negotiating the humps day after day, he had developed problems in his spinal cord, like many others. "Riding my two wheeler (on the humps) had made my life difficult; the growing problem prompted me to file a RTI application to know the reality behind the numerous humps" he says. Kumar got the response on 11th January this year. He was not surprised to find that a lot of humps were unauthorised, and were not found on BBMP records at all. Vital statistics of a road hump In theory, for any hump to come up on a road the Traffic Police has to notify the Traffic Engineering Cell (TEC) of the BBMP. The TEC consists of three executive engineers, four assistant executive engineers and six assistant engineers. This cell is responsible for constructing all the road humps, pedestrian ways, barricades, road dividers etc. The Indian Road Congress has made certain rules and regulations specifically to be followed in the construction of road humps. The rules of the Indian Road Congress are as follows: Road Hump (speed-breaker) specification Central Height: 10-12 cm; Shape: Parabola; Width: 3.5 metres; Length: same as road width. Road humps should be painted in a 'V' shape and illuminated by solar cat's eyes (solar cells embedded on pavements/road that reflect sun rays and glow in the dark) to make them visible. The humps should not be more than five metres away from the junction or the intersection. Two signboards, one at 20 to 30 metres and another 10 metres away from the hump should be placed for the commuters to know about the road humps ahead. Intrusion of tree branches should be prevented. Road humps should be put up only on the main roads and not on the cross roads. In ‘rumble strips’, (humps that have around 5 to 10 strips together), the width of each strip is to be one foot and the gap between each strip, one foot. Not surprisingly, these rules of the IRC are not available with the BBMP, and thus, not many of the road humps are built according to these standards. A fatal ride No markings on this hump on the BTM Ring Road that connects Silk Board and Jayadeva Circle. This is where Suryaprakash Chavan met his end. Pic: Supriya Khandekar. Coincidentally, around a month after Kumar got the reply to his application he got to know about a fatal accident on the BTM Ring Road (between Silk Board and Jayadeva Circle) that occurred because of an improper hump. Suryaprakash Chavan, 22, was on his way back home after dropping his friend in BTM Layout at 12 midnight. One of his friends Swagat Senapati was also with him on another two wheeler. Because the road bump was unmarked Chavan missed it; his motorbike jumped the breaker and he hit the divider. Chavan died on the spot. There was no traffic police at the time of accident, and the Inspector at the Madiwala Police Station filed the FIR. The Inspector who signed the FIR (without writing his name under the signature) has mentioned in the FIR that this accident happened because of driver's negligence, even though eye witness Swagat Senapati’s account (Reg no: 2/2008/24 Sec 174 CrPC) , signed on the same date as of the accident, is with the same police station. After this accident, G M Chavan, (Suryaprakash Chavan’s father) contacted Kumar for help and fresh applications were filed to get details about the BTM Ring Road humps in particular, and a second appeal was also filed with Karnataka Information Commission. As convenor of Kria Katte Anil Kumar has been following up with the BBMP to get the unscientific humps modified. The case was first heard between 2nd and 7th June this year. The next hearing is on 24th of this month and another hearing with the Police is scheduled for 14th November. "The continuous poking has changed the mindset of the BBMP and the Police. The BBMP has already called tenders for modifying 400 humps in Bangalore, divided into 10 packages," says Kumar. This accident might be just one example of the horrifying and irrevocable effects of unplanned and unscientific road humps on the lives of motorists. But similar cases and other minor accidents happen every day. At the very least, this RTI applications have set a process in motion for standardising these otherwise dangerous structures on Bangalore's roads. 15 Sep 2008 Supriya Khandekar is a staff journalist at Citizen Matters. References The Indian Road Congress (IRC) is the premier technical body of Highway Engineers in the country, and came into existence in December 1934. It is a national forum for sharing of knowledge and pooling of experience on subjects dealing with the construction & maintenance of roads and bridges, including technology, equipment, research, planning, finance, taxation, organisation and all connected policy issues.
  9. fightin498a

    What can you expect from KIC?

    Please read my blog on: Government Enjoys Harassing Citizens. First hand account of an experience I had recently at the Karnataka Information Commission, supposedly the hub of the Right to Information Act (RTI) in the state of Karnataka, when I went there personally to submit an RTI Application myself.
  10. I send an application to Bangaluru Municipal COrporation by RPAd on the following address. Public Information Officer, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike N. R. Square, Bangaluru, 560002 The letter was returned to me by post, with remark 'Address not found'! :rolleyes: . I could not find postal address on thier website. And English pages on RTI link http://www.bmponline.org/right2info/r2ienglish.pdf only show Kannada text, which I can not read. I got this address from some other site. However, I feel the address is fairly accurate. Can some one give me a postal address? I wish to ask a query to thier Finance/ Accounts department. Incidently, on the site Bruhat Bengaluru City Corporation they still spell it as Bangalore, and not as Bangaluru, Of course, I have another letter returned from Pune, which was addressed to Post Box number of the concerned PIO (Pune Municipal Corporation). This ensured that my appeal ultimately reached the AA after the last date.
  11. Atul Patankar

    RTI counter opened at M S Building

    As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 12 September 2009 BANGALORE: A new counter has been set up to receive applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act on issues concerning the Vidhana Soudha, Vikas Soudha and the adjoining Multi-Storey (MS) Building. An initiave of Kria Katte, a voluntary organization dedicated to disseminating information about RTI, the counter is located on the ground floor of the M S Building, adjacent to the BangaloreOne centre there. Citizens can contact a helpline at 65734444 for related queries, the organization's convener Ravindra Nath Guru said. The move follows difficulties in submitting RTI applications to public information officers at the three buildings due to security reasons. Source: RTI counter opened at M S Building - Bangalore - City - NEWS - The Times of India
  12. I have not got my income tax refund for the year 2007-08 filed in July 2007/ The Income tax department in Bangalore says they have lost my Saral, Form 16 and other attachments like insurance premium paid and housing loan statement. How do I get my refund now?
  13. Atul Patankar

    Metro making city barren

    As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 15 April 2009 Bangalore : With Namma Metro construction progressing fast, hundreds of trees will fall to the axe, adding to the city's graying landscape. According to an RTI application filed by Hasiru Usiru, a citizen's movement, 323 trees will be chopped off on R V Road and many in the eco-sensitive zone of Lalbagh too. According to chief engineer, Namma Metro, R R Doddihal: "We will cut trees only after due permissions are given. In Lalbagh, three trees have been cut, but these are small Nilgiri trees." Hasiru Usiru campaigner Vinay Sreenivasa said: "Around 480 feet of Lalbagh's wall has been demolished. It is a sacred place for nature lovers. It's the only place in this urban jungle where people can go for nature walks and bird watching. We can't believe they are destroying it. Pollution after Metro becomes operational will impact the entire habitat. Bangalore will soon be barren." The campaigners will organize a protest on Wednesday to protect Lalbagh, by forming a human chain. Source: Metro making city barren - Bangalore - Cities - The Times of India
  14. akhilendra

    PF claim

    hi my pf ac no is KN/25113/4712, i left my previous employer in dec 07, they processed the form in aug 08, since then it is pending with pf department,bangalore, i have mailed them, called them but no revert. can someone help me in this matter.
  15. Atul Patankar

    Magistrate's signature forged

    As reported by the Times of India, Bangalore Magistrate's signature forged: A metropoliton magistrate's signature was forged by a father - son duo to obtain a mining licence. The forgery was traced when B Y Maheshwar Singh approached the mines and geology department through an RTI application, seeking details of the licence issued to his uncle Dayanath Singh. Maheshwar, a resident of Chamarajpet, had a general power of attorney from his grandmother Kamala Bai for mining at Manchikatte village, Chiknayakanahalli, on 33 acres and 10 guntas of land. But Maheshwar Singh did not start operations due to personal reasons. Meanwhile, his uncle Dayanath and his son kidnapped Kamala Bai and forcibly made her sign a letter of lease. When the documents were produced before the mines and geology department, the department asked for an affidavit from Kamala Bai. Then, the duo forged the magistrate's signature and produced it before the department and obtained a licence. Maheshwar Singh has now filed a complaint before the High Grounds police. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Bangalore/Husband_wife_dupe_three_banks/articleshow/3810359.cms
  16. Hello I wish to apply for RTI against ESI Hospital, Rajaji Nagar, Bangalore. I sent a letter to the Dean requesting for a birth certificate last week but I haven't got any response for the same. Please guide me as to how I should go ahead with the same. Best regards, Ramesh
  17. RTI not for assets, liabilities of officials: HC as reported in Citizenmatters.in | September 30, 2008 Recently, on 1st July 2008, the High Court of Karnataka declared that personal information of the public authorities cannot be made available through the Right To Inforamtion Act, 2005. The order was a result of a writ petition filed by H E Rajashekarappa, Joint Director (Statistics) at Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department, at Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore. Rajashekarappa filed the case on 30th June 2006. On 17 March 2006, one Narasimha Murthy, retired statistical inspector filed an RTI application with the PIO at the Government Planning and Statistics Department, M S Building, asking for the total assets and liablities of Rajashekarappa, for the period of 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05. But Rajashekarappa objected to his application and the Public Information Officer (PIO) rejected the application (by an order at Annexure ‘E'). This aggrieved Murthy and he filed an appeal under section 19(8) of Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Joint Secretary, Government Planning and Statistics Department, the Appellate Authority Under the RTI Act. After this move Rajashekarappa was asked by the appellate body to furnish the required documents sought by Murthy but yet again he asked to cancel the application. The reasons given by his counsels, M S Prathima and S V Narasimhan were that the details of assets and liabilities is personal information and does not fall under the public affairs of the public authority. The counsels also metioned that the appellate body made a blunder by setting aside the order made by the PIO and asking Rajashekarappa to furnish details. Thus Murthy was asked to pay a penalty of total Rs.10,000, with Rs.5000 due in three months from the ruling, and his application was declared canceled. The High Court's also ruled that it cannot be said that the RTI Act encompasses the personal information of the officials of public authorities. Thus Murthy had no right to seek such information under this Act. The court also called his application troublesome and an attempt to settle scores with Rajashekarappa. While the ruling quashed Murthy's application and barred him from knowing the required details, it has left bigger questions on the nature of the curbs on the RTI Act. Courtesy_ Citizen Matters: Bangalore News, Views & Opinions Right to Information Act, 2005: RTI not for assets, liabilities of officials: HC
  18. Train RTI officials: Activists' demand as reported in Deccan Herald, DH News Service, Bangalore: 12 Oct,2008 Public grievances were heard and problems faced by people while filing RTI applications were discussed at the colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday. “Training the Right To Information (RTI) officers is a must as they do not know how to deal with people who file RTI. The officers should be cordial towards them instead of passing nasty comments to the applicants, which is a common situation faced by many of applicants,” said YG Muralidharan, Managing Trustee, Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT). He was speaking at a colloquium held to celebrate three years of the RTI Act in Karnataka on Saturday. Public grievances were heard and problems faced by people while filing RTI applications were discussed in the presence of various experts in the filed. The flaws of the Right To Information department were pointed out by various concerned agencies and the meeting aimed at ensuring the proper implementation of RTI Act to make the government and citizens responsible. The committee emphasised on the training of Public Information Officers (PIO) and public awareness programmmes for RTI. Viresh, Head, Mahitihakku Adhyayana Kendra said “In a majority of the cases examined, employees were not aware of name or designation of PIO in their offices. We should ensure that what we write is received by the authorities. Some of the receiving clerks refused to accept applications in revenue department, Bescom and police stations and hence applications were directly filed to department heads.” The fee for RTI forms has always been paid through Indian Postal Order. However, BBMP and BDA have also made arrangements to receive cash at their offices. “We have experienced great difficulties in payment of fees demanded by the PIOs. Money orders sent to PIOs were returned as refused. Alternatively, we had to remit the fee through Indian Postal Order via speed post and registered post,” said Virendra, one of the participants. Other demands The activists have demanded early disposal of pending cases before the Karnataka Information Commission; formation of rules to conduct first appeals under Section 19 (1) of the Act and establishment of RTI Cell at Vidhana Soudha, Vikasa Soudha and MS Building. Deccan Herald - Train RTI officials: Activists' demand
  19. As reported by Mathang Seshagiri of ENS in expressbuzz.com on 25 September 2008: Express Buzz - Karnataka bar doors open for women employees Probe into RGUHS marks scandal: Arora panel BANGALORE: Controversies and scams refuse to die down at the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS). A two-member committee, headed by retired additional chief secretary J K Arora, which probed the internal assessment (IA) marks scandal at RGUHS, has found that the university itself is guilty of tampering and alterations of internal assessment marks of 14 students of six medical colleges in September 2004. The committee, in its final report to the government — accessed by Express under the Right to Information Act — has stated that the tampering and alterations took place at the computer operators’ level in the computer section of the university. Since the illegal modification of marks amounts to criminal offence, the committee has recommended a thorough probe by Corps of Detectives (CoD) to take further action. The probe report states that four students belonging to MRMC Medical College, Gulbarga; JN Medical College, Belgaum and KIMS, Bangalore were issued admission tickets though they had secured less than 35 per cent marks in IA exams. “The university is responsible for not sending the list of ineligible students well in time. The university has also not taken any steps to ensure its instructions regarding issue of hall tickets are being followed strictly,” states the report. The committee has asked RGUHS to take action against the colleges and also write to the management of these colleges to take appropriate action against the staff involved. In all, the committee has traced 16 cases of alterations, 13 in internal assessment and three in university practical exams in different subjects. These students were issued hall tickets though they hadn’t secured the minimum prescribed marks in the IA exams in contravention of the Medical Council of India regulations. However, no irregularities were observed in the university theory exams. Following widespread allegations over tampering of internal assessment marks in the September 2004 exams, the then Chancellor T N Chaturvedi directed the Government to order an independent inquiry by experts under section 8 of the RGUHS Act 1994. Consequently a two-member committee comprising J K Arora and former RGUHS vice-chancellor S Chandrashekar Shetty was constituted, which submitted its findings and recommendations in two parts — one in December 2005 and the other in June 2006.
  20. MHJV demands Karnataka govt to formulate transparent policy for BUMS seats As reported Nandita Vijay in PharmaBiz, September 30, 2008, Bangalore Mahiti Hakku Jagruti Vedike (MHJV), a right to information forum, has demanded more transparency in the allocation of seats in the Government Unani College by CET (Common Entrance Test) cell because of no takers. This is for the course Bachelor of Unani Medical Sciences (BUMS). There are over 30 seats lying vacant and the MHJV has alerted the State government's Department of education about the unfilled seats. The MHJV views it as a conspiracy to sell these seats to aspirant students from other states. Therefore MHJV is asking Karnataka government to formulate a transparent policy for such admissions to prevent corrupt practices by the officials. MHJV observed that for the last three years, the seats are not getting filled by CET because of no takers for this course. But the Vedike has gathered that the vacant seats were sold to aspirants by the officials. "In order to prevent corrupt practices and ensure the deserving candidates get the seats, we are pressurizing the State government to formulate a transparent policy for admissions to this college for filling the vacant seats", stated JSD Pani, president, Mahiti Hakku Jagruti Vedike. This year, over 30 seats (against 50 permitted) are vacant for the first year BUMS course in the Government Unani College. The Vedike has learnt that several deals are struck with candidates seeking admissions from other States. It is quite clear that the seats are not offered on merit to the candidates from Karnataka. There is also an effort by those who are selling the seats to change the eligibility criteria for admission by reducing the percentage of marks obtained in PUC to 40 per cent from the present 50 per cent. "This makes it imperative for the State government to work towards formulating a transparent policy for admissions in Unani education which will help to fill up the vacant seats on the basis of merit, failing which the Government will be encouraging the corrupt practices, informed Pani. If there is fall in the number of students taking up Bachelor of Unani, then the State Government must consider the closure of the institution in coming years and utilise the infrastructure and expertise elsewhere for providing public health care facility. There are three colleges offering Unani in the private sector in Karnataka with an admission capacity of 120 students every year. Under the circumstances, there is no reason why the Government Unani College seats are lying vacant, pointed out Pani. The Vedike has also alerted the Lok Ayukta about the vacant seats as a complaint calling to initiate enquiry into these admissions which is a questionable practice for the last three years. MHJV demands Karnataka govt to formulate transparent policy for BUMS seats - Education
  21. RTI implementation audit by students unveiled as appeared in Mangalorean.com | 29.09.08 Bangalore Sept 29: In a bid to involve youth in civic participation, Public Affairs Centre (PAC) brought together college students here to bring out the success level of Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Act envisages to bring about good governance and transparency in public administration. The study comes a fortnight ahead of the third anniversary of the realisation of the RTI Act and presents the Information Officers' perspective and their unique organisational experiences. These findings were presented by the students who conducted the study at an event held in the city yesterday. Mr K K Mishra, Chief Information Commissioner, Karnataka State Information Commission, presided over the event in which Mr Ralph Frammolino, Faculty, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Prof Samuel Paul, Founder-Chairperson, PAC and Dr Gopakumar Thampi, Director, PAC participated. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Paul said RTI was a powerful and empowering tool. Unfortunately its awareness was very low. There was also limited information on implementation of this critical piece of legislation. ''With the youth constituting more than half of India's population, their active participation in the governance of the country becomes very crucial. This initiative is a very encouraging sign of youth involvement,'' he said. Elaborating on the study and key findings, Dr Thampi, Director, PAC, stated that the audit was conducted for a two-fold purpose -- to shed light on its implementation and to give the youth a hands-on experience -- by actively participating on governance-related issues. UNI Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World!
  22. As reported by Supriya Khandekar in bangalore.citizenmatters.in on 02 September 2008: Citizen Matters, Bangalore: ABIDe meeting's steep expenses exposed - 02 September 2008 ABIDe meeting's steep expenses exposed A chief minister-initiated daylong local workshop for 'Bangalore's development' was held on 28 June in the city. No need to guess the expense, thanks to RTI: a whopping Rs.21 lakhs. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) incurred bills totaling to Rs.21,86,487 for a day long meeting cum workshop organised for the citizens to discuss the infrastructural development of the city. This came into light when an RTI activist filed an application to find out the number of citizens invited in the meeting. (A copy of the findings are with Citizen Matters.) A senior executive at an event management firm has confirmed that the BDA has overspent substantially for the meeting. Partial expense list for the meeting, received through RTI. The workshop was held on 28 June, Saturday with a promise to bring productive changes in the infrastructure by the government. It was held in the auditorium of National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in the IISc campus. Soon after the new government was sworn in the Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa sent a letter to key government bodies and agencies in the city asking them to come together for an interactive meeting. The letter was sent on 23 June signed by the Chief Minister and an Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) was formulated. To abide or not to abide is what remains after the ABIDe workshop organised by the Urban Development Department (UDD) and the BDA for the citizens in the presence of the newly elected chief minister. Present at the meeting along with the chief minister, were minister for Transport R Ashok, minister for Excise, BWSSB, IT BT Katta Subramanya Naidu, minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shobha Karandlaje, minister Aravind Lambavalli, and Ramachandra Gowda. In addition, 15 government agencies including Brahut Bangaluru Mahanagara Palike, Bangalore Development Authority, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, Bangalore Traffic Police and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, all of them announced various plans for the infrastructure development. The list of invitees. Key agenda items of the event were the K Kasturirangan committee report on governance reforms for Bangalore, the RITES report on the Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan for Bangalore and a presentation from City Connect. The presentations and discussions that followed covered the major challenges in the city including water supply, sanitation, transportation, traffic management, infrastructure of roads, drainage, footpaths, power and urban poor. On the same occassion, the Chief Minister also promised to make Bangalore "a global city in the next one year". In the meantime, many citizens who wanted to be part of the meeting could not participate because entry was only on invitation. M V K Anil Kumar, and RTI activist, out of curiosity wanted to know how many Residents' Welfare Associations (RWA) were invited and he filed an application to know the same with the Urban Development Department. On his way to dig into the number of invitees he ended up finding out how much taxpayer money was spent on the one day meet. List of services used for the meeting. "There was no consultation with the local people. Excluding two none of the RWAs were invited. The pomp and show costed so high while the most affected people were not even invited," says Kumar while he explains the reason behind the RTI application and the unbelievable numbers he came across in the process. The idea of spending this somewhat substantial amount on a meeting to chart out the future of the city while sidelining its citizens shows the state of affairs in which development planning is taken up in Bangalore. Anil Kumar further explains that the total number of bags (given to all the people who attended the meeting) was 540 as per the records of BDA. A laptop bag containing bulky brochures and BDA printed on it was given at the entrance. "I presume the number of people present were only this much because the entry was only on invitation, as there is no record with the BDA or the UDD mentioning the number of people who attended the meeting. But the amount spent on food was Rs.7,48,857 and Rs.36,126 for tea and biscuits. The number of invitees and the amount of food do not seem to be in proportion," he adds showing the BDA records. Why it does not add up You must be wondering if nearly 8 lakh rupees was spent on food, what were the other expenses that raised the total cost to more than Rs.21 lakhs? They include audio-visuals, flower decorations, stalls, tent house, carpets, human resources, banners, electronic support, stage drop and stationary articles. Incidentally, NIAS did not charge the BDA a hall rent for the meeting. Most of the billed line items for the above mentioned services amount to similar looking numbers ranging from Rs.90,000-99,000. The flower decorations on the stage costed Rs.95,000. The tent house costs amounted to a similar Rs.95,506 and the stall set up amounted to Rs.98,315. Kumar has all the records in a thick file, including the number and names of the invitees and the various expenditures made by the BDA (even when the meeting was organised by the UDD). Not surprisingly, he questions the justifiability of the billed amounts. "I do not know if a well furnished auditorium needed extra decoration," he says. A senior event manager at reputed firm in the city, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the total cost excluding food would amount to maximum of Rs.7,00,000. He also found the billing of several services all at around Rs 1 lakh unusual. He said that the BDA had appointed different agencies for the works that could just as well have been done by just one agency. For example: for audio visuals, two different agencies were involved, while one agency could have done the work. Similar is the case for electronic support. Furthermore the flower decoration, according to him should not have cost anything above Rs.10,000, while the billing amount shows Rs.95,000. He felt that the amount billed for stationary articles also did not appear reasonable. 02 Sep 2008 Supriya Khandekar is a staff journalist at Citizen Matters.
  23. Illegal buildings will get no licence by S KUSHALA 12 Sep 2008,TNN BANGALORE: When three illegal commercial complexes in Bangalore's Banashankari II Stage were found to have had shops and businesses functioning in the premises, Ravindranath Guru did not ignore the issue like other residents but chased it till the end. A Right to Information Act (RTI) activist, Ravindranath first brought it to the notice of the BBMP. But as usual, the authorities couldn't care less. He filed applications under the RTI and the matter went up to the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC). Guru's perseverance and an order by the KIC has not only forced the BBMP to close down the three buildings, but also take a firm decision and convert it into a rule. The BBMP has ordered that henceforth, a trade licence will have to be issued only to buildings with occupancy certificates . This means illegal buildings cannot have commercial activities functioning from their premises as the health department will not issue a trade licence. Though the KIC order was issued in May last year, it was sent to the government's legal department for feedback. After a go-ahead by the legal experts, BBMP special commissioner (administration) issued the final order on August 19. The state legal department's observation was: "The grant of trade licence would amount to authorisation of occupation of a building. Occupancy of a building by any person is not permitted in the absence of issuance of occupancy certificate (OC) by a competent authority. But partial occupancy can be granted in exceptional cases after recording reasons. It is mandatory that the authority consider the feasibility of allowing partial occupancy. In the absence of an OC, a trade licence cannot be granted." When Ravindranath first saw the irregularities, he started investigating and found that the buildings did not have occupancy certificates . "But the trade licences were given by the BBMP's health department. When I informed the authorities, they were not bothered. So I took up the issue through RTI and approached the KIC. Following the KIC order in May 2007, the three commercial complexes have been closed down and sealed," he explains. Checking the menace The new rule is fine, but how will the BBMP check the menace? Every second building in the city has similar violations and Bangalore has a staggering number of illegal buildings - residential and commercial - that have come up with the engineers' collusion. During the construction stage when engineers check a building, what often happens is that the building would have deviated from the sanctioned plan. But engineers usually give a go-ahead. Subsequently, occupancy certificates are also issued. The most common deviations are using basement for purposes other than parking and constructing more number of floors. "If the rule is retrospective, then every commercial building will have to be closed as they would have violated. But since the new order does not mention anything about old buildings, it's a big challenge for engineers as well as health officials to ensure that trade licences are given only to buildings with occupancy certificates ," a senior BBMP official said. toiblr dot reporter at timesgroup.com Illegal buildings will get no licence -Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
  24. As reported by Atul Chaturvedi in bangaloremirror.com on 01 September 2008: Bangalore Mirror - Bangalore Mirror Parent’s war on ‘killer’ road humps A school teacher whose son lost his life to a road hump has made it his mission, with the help of the RTI Act, to have all unscientifically constructed speed breakers in the city removed On Feb 24 this year, 22-year-old Suryaprakash, a techie with Microland in Belandur, was riding towards the Silk Board junction from BTM Layout with a friend on the pillion. Around 12.05 am, he was thrown off his bike while negotiating a hump near Karan Nursing Home on the Outer Ring Road. He died on the spot, and the post-mortem report gave the cause of death as severe injuries to the chest and internal organs. A case was registered at the Jayanagar traffic police station and the Inspector concerned clearly mentioned in his report that the accident was caused by an unscientifically built hump. Most parents faced with a similar tragedy would have sought compensation and not gone deeper into the issue. But Diwakar Chavan, a teacher at the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Victoria Layout, decided to wage a battle against all unscientifically designed road humps in the city. In the course of his crusade, Chavan has had to fall back on the Right to Information (RTI) Act (RTI). As a first step, he sought information from BBMP and the traffic police on the number of road humps in the city and how many of them were unscientifically designed. Failing to get a response, he approached the Karnataka Information Commission, which has given an interim order directing the authorities to provide the information. Once he gets the information, Chavan plans to file a PIL seeking a High Court directive to the authorities to either remove the unscientific humps or relay them as per Indian Road Congress standards. Chavan had also sought information from the DCP-Traffic (East) about the date and methodology of construction of the hump that took his son’s life. Failing to get a response, he filed an application with the Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration), but here too he drew a blank. Noting the undue delay by the officials in furnishing the information, State Information Commissioner K A Thippeswamy has directed the respondents to be prompt in dealing with requests for information received under the RTI Act. The case has been adjourned till Nov 14. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, C H Ram, president of the S T Bed Association, Ejipura, said the construction of humps should be done scientifically and there should be cautionary signboards 15 metres before the hump. Meanwhile, the killer hump remains exactly as it was at the time of Suryaprakash’s accident, and neither is there any cautionary signboard. According to locals, a woman scooterist fell and hurt herself while negotiating the hump a couple of days ago, but even this latest incident has not woken up the authorities. Official speak When contacted, DCP (Traffic-West) Pandurang Rane said steps were being taken to put up cautionary signboards before speed breakers. All road humps would be targeted under the government’s B-Trac scheme. Zebra crossings were also being painted at key junctions, he said. IRC guidelines A member of the Indian Road Congress, K B R Reddy, pointed out that most of the road humps constructed by BBMP and other civic agencies are not scientific in their construction. According to IRC guidelines, a hump should be at least three metres wide, with a central height of just 10 centimetres. According to him, BBMP and the traffic police don’t have the technical support staff required to plan and construct humps scientifically. “They should appoint a consultant, make use of IRC guidelines, conduct a proper study and construct humps accordingly,” he said.
  25. As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 20 August 2008: 1-day summit: Cost Rs 21 lakh, no progress-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India 1-day summit: Cost Rs 21 lakh, no progress BANGALORE: Day-long meeting on transforming the city, and promises galore. The result - not much action on the ground but only hefty bills. The money spent on the meeting: Rs 21,86,487. The Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDE), the one-day summit to take stock of the civic projects in the city held at IISc on June 28, cost the BDA (nodal agency) this whopping amount. Information obtained under RTI by an NGO, Karnataka Right To Information Activists (KRIA) Forum, shows that the BDA had spent the huge amount on audio visuals, flowers, stalls, carpets, plastic chairs, banners, decoration of the hall, electronic support, bags, video filming of the event etc. What takes the cake is the catering bill — Rs 7,48,857 on food and Rs 36,126 on coffee and snacks! M V K Anil Kumar, who got the information under RTI, on expenses incurred on the ABIDE meeting, said he pursued it because the much-publicized meeting offered little chance for citizens’ representation. "These meetings have about 75% attendance by the bureaucrats and the rest by the corporate company representatives and retired officials. They can chalk out programmes in air-conditioned halls of posh hotels and announce them but what about the residents, who are major stake-holders in the development of the city?" asked Anil Kumar, who is also convener of the RTI group Kria Katte. The idea of spending Rs 21.86 lakh on a meeting to chart out the future course of the city — all the while sidelining its citizens’ take on the process of development — reflects the state of affairs in which development planning is taken up in Bangalore. Kumar had sought the information from the urban development department, which in turn, directed him to BDA stating that the UDD was an overseeing body that only issued directions on meetings of this nature.
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