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  1. As reported in samaylive.com on 18 December 2008: 105 households with same surname in one Mumbai slum :: Sahara India Media 105 households with same surname in one Mumbai slum Mumbai, Dec 18: It is the biggest "extended family" of the country, literally, with nearly 420 people having the same surname residing in Anna Nagar slum, if the municipal records of a slum colony here is to be believed. Altogether 105 head of families residing in the slum have a common surname, "Devendra", according to the record. "If each family has four members, then nearly 420 members are residing in the area with the same surname. It is really a very big family, bigger than the families projected in the Ekta Kapoor's serials," quipped Milind Sharad Mulay, a resident of Dadar in Mumbai, who sought details about the slum dwellers of Anna Nagar in an RTI application. According to the document provided to Mulay, there are around 221 structures in the Anna Nagar slum, of which 174 are eligible under the slum rehabilitation scheme. It was also revealed that of the 105 units, from where the "Devendra" surnames are registered, 99 are residential units while five are commercial units and one is a religious unit in the area. Anna Nagar is a slum in suburban Mumbai, made up largely of migrants from Tamil Nadu. "Their homes are made of tin and wood, there are huge holes in the walls, and during the monsoons, sewage water floods the homes. The toilet is also the open sewer outside," Mulay said. He claimed that there might be some error in the registration of the "Devendra" surname in the slum area by the municipal authorities. Out of the 174 eligible slum dwellers in Anna Nagar, 171, including the 105 units, have given a consent in writing to the proposed slum rehabilitation area (SRA) scheme. Thus, 98 per cent have consented to the scheme, Mulay said, alleging "misappropriation" of the SRA scheme.
  2. Over 500 ‘overage’ coaches in use, says RTI application as reported by Prashant Rangnekar, Dec 15, 2008 EXPRSS INDIA Mumbai : Even as a modernisation programme is being carried out by both the Central Railways (CR) and Western Railways (WR) with new swanky rakes making their way to the city every month, both these railways continue to use over 500 coaches that are overage or past their period of usability, according to information obtained by Newsline through a Right to Information (RTI) application. An EMU coach is termed ‘over-aged’ after it completes its codal life of 25 years. With some 65 lakh commuters using these coaches everyday, they constantly undergo wear and tear. The WR, which has 71 EMU rakes (trains), runs 1,156 services daily. The information revealed that of the total 877 coaches in the WR, 277 are overage, which is one-fourth of its total EMU coaches. All these coaches are being used on a daily basis by the WR. The WR, few years ago, had also manufactured a nine-car EMU rake solely from overage coaches. However, the train was scrapped and not put in service after the railway board rejected the train. The CR is relatively better in terms of the use of over-aged coaches. The CR has 144 nine-car rakes and 120 twelve-car rakes. The CR comprises of 2,378 coaches. Of these, 244 are overage coaches. The RTI reply revealed that it runs 200 overage coaches everyday. Interestingly, under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, both phase I and II, the WR and the CR are expected to get 191 EMU rakes. Under phase I of the project, a total of 32 EMU rakes have already been commissioned out of which 16 EMU rakes have been given to WR while CR has 16 new rakes. The WR and CR have also maintained that ‘proper precaution’ is taken during the usage of these coaches so that the safety of the commuters is ensured. But a senior rail official pointed out that this in turn increases the maintenance cost of these coaches. He also said, “Unless the new EMU rakes are commissioned, we cannot phase out the old rakes and coaches. These old coaches will be phased out from the services systematically.” Over 500 ‘overage’ coaches in use, says RTI application - Express India
  3. CitizenOfIndia

    Terror Attacks

    We all have condemned the on-going terrorist attacks. This act of barbarism is globally criticized for inhuman and terror inflow, keeping us from make a better and peacful world to live-in. But not only do we need to criticize them, now its time we need to act stern on them too. How long we just gonna involve in wait-n-watch game for another terror attack, and weep only when our very near and dear ones are blown-out of RDX? I believe that all of us are sensible pro-active citizens of nation, and so do expect that all of us act on this terrorism. It's time that we uproot and replace the current obsolete filthy system with new powerful system to fight the terrorism. Initiate the change revolution: 1. Youth needs to come up and take ahead the nation in new and better world replacing the current filthy political parties. All over the nation and in each city, Youth needs to connect and make leaders to become the preferrable genuine voteable candidate. Till we stand on our own we can't rescue our own people. 2. Make politicians more accountable to the nation. We should always remember that political leaders are legally recruited to serve the nation and we pay them in form of taxes too. Leaders need to sign and legally abide by, what they promise before they are elected, only then then can come the power to serve us. We can file petition for this. 3. Police,ATS like security organisations must work as an independent and autonomous body, free from political interference. Such organizations must have all resources to update its force for best security measures. A major chunk of national income need to be divereted to them. Transparancy is needed in our system to rest assured, that such security organizations are highly-equipped to protect the nation. We can file petition for this. Above are few change measures that we need to initiate if we really looking forward to better nation ahead. Please upsurge and team-up for better future for all us. TIME TO ACT NOW.
  4. karira

    BMC continues illegal dumping

    As reported by Linah Baliga in dnaindia.com on 23 November 2008: DNA - Mumbai - BMC continues illegal dumping - Daily News & Analysis BMC continues illegal dumping RTI petition filed by locals shows garbage dumping at Mulund is not only illegal, but may not get clearance from the PCB anytime soon If one goes by the Municipal Solid Waste(MSW) Rules of 2000, the present, haphazard dumping of garbage taking place at all dumping grounds across Mumbai is unauthorised. A Right to Information (RTI) petition filed by local resident Vibhav Agarwal of Hari Om Nagar in Mulund (E), revealed some startling facts about this suburb. First, that the state Pollution Control Board (PCB) has not authorised the dumping of garbage in the Mulund dumping ground (MDG). And second, that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) continues with the haphazard dumping of 600-1200 tonnes of garbage every day at Mulund. A response sought from the PCB to the RTI petition, received on September 29, 2008, stated that an authorisation to the BMC, granting the processing and disposal of MSW at the Mulund dumping ground, was still pending at the PCB headquarters. The RTI reply also points out that the PCB’s regional officer (Mumbai) has recommended not allowing authorisation, due to the BMC’s non-compliance of the MSW Rules, 2000. Asked about this, additional municipal commissioner RA Rajeev said, “No unscientific dumping can get an authorisation from the PCB. That’s why the BMC has plans to stop haphazard dumping and go for scientific landfills in the near future, for all dumping grounds.” On whether the dumping in Mulund was unauthorised at present (and therefore illegal), Rajeev said: “If we go by that logic, even dumping at Deonar will be unauthorised. Then where will we dump Mumbai’s garbage?” That doesn’t alter the fact that the BMC is carrying on unauthorised dumping and flouting the MSW Rules 2000, Agarwal said. The lives and health of more than 10,000 families living in Hari Om Nagar are in jeopardy because of the haphazard dumping. “The BMC is obviously apathetic to the conditions these families are living in, and the serious health hazards they are exposed to. Our area is infested with rodents, stray dogs and flies, and we are forced to keep the windows shut all the time,” Agarwal added. After the Gorai dumping ground was closed recently, about 500 tonnes of garbage were diverted to Mulund, adding to the 40ft hillock of garbage here. According to Rajeev, the Mulund dumping ground will close once the Kanjurmarg dumping ground receives an environmental clearance from the Ministry of Forests and Environment. A bio-methanation plant will also be set up in Mulund, which will start operating from November 2010, he added. “But does that mean the residents will have to live with the stench and health hazards only because it is taking time to get the MoEF clearance, thanks to the BMC’s lackadaisical attitude?” Agarwal asks.
  5. High pendency killing RTI Act, says activist by Viju B ,TNN, 13 Oct 2008, Times of India MUMBAI: In the three years of its existence, the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been effectively used by lakhs of citizens to bring about changes in their everyday lives. In Maharashtra, the Act has been a runaway success with around 3.7 lakh citizens filing RTI queries in the last three years. "The RTI Act has made a positive impact on the lives of people like no other Act has done before. More and more people are filing RTI queries to procure information , which was earlier denied by government officials,'' said Shailesh Gandhi, information commissioner with the Central Information Commission, from Delhi. RTI activists and citizens, however , say the rising pendency of second appeals is a cause for concern. An applicant is forced to file a second appeal after both the public information officer (PIO) and the first appellate authority deny the information on flimsy grounds. "The high pendency of appeals is slowly killing the act. Applicants have to wait for more than a year for a hearing of their second appeals ,'' said Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, an NGO dealing with RTI-related issues. The six information commissions in Maharashtra had 16,866 appeals pending till the end of June this year, with Mumbai alone having 4,818 such pleas. Activists say the problem of pendency can be dealt with effectively if the information commissioners dispose of 150 appeals on an average every month. "The current disposal rate is way below the mark and this is the reason behind the rising number of appeals,'' said Prabhu. Gandhi, who looks after appeals pertaining to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), has disposed of 50 pleas in three-and-a-half days. "I am doing it even though I have been given just two staff members to assist me,'' says Gandhi. The CIC has around 8,500 second appeals pending for disposal. A senior SIC official said a number of first appeals were rejected in blatant violation of the RTI Act. "Recently , a municipal ward officer was hauled up after he did not even bother to hear 67 RTI appeals. We hope the first appellate authority provides accurate information so that the applicant does not have to file a second appeal,'' the official added. High pendency killing RTI Act, says activist -Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  6. As reported by Viju B in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 November 2008: Delaying info costs state dept dear-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India Delaying info costs state dept dear MUMBAI: The state information commission (SIC) has imposed a penalty on the public information officer (PIO) of urban development department for delaying information to an RTI activist who had sought the copy of an inquiry report on the Laxmi Chhaya tragedy. Kandivli resident S K Nangia had filed a query under the RTI act in March this year asking for a copy of the report drafted by a state-appointed committee that investigated the building collapse in Borivli. The seven-storey building came down like a pack of cards on July 19 last year killing 30 residents and injuring 17 others. "I had filed the RTI query in public interest. But the babus withheld the information for about six months,'' Nangia said, adding that he had filed the RTI query with the BMC's building proposal department. The civic officials initially said that the files were with state urban development department. "But I informed the officials that under the RTI act, they were supposed to forward it to the department concerned,'' Nangia said. He then filed an appeal after he did not get any response for three months. But to his dismay the urban development officials said that they had forwarded it back to the municipal commissioner's office. "The civic chief's office then forwarded it to the city engineer with whom I had filed my original RTI query,'' Nangia said. "This shuttling continued for a few more months and I received six intimations from various authorities about the pending status of my query,'' he said. Finally, Nangia filed a complaint with the SIC under section 18 of the RTI Act in August. State chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi, after hearing the case, observed that the department should have provided the information in one month's time. "The manner in which the appellate authority of the urban development dealt with the query was appalling. When the query was forwarded to the urban development department, there was no reason for the appeal to be sent back to the BMC. This shows negligence, carelessness and tendency to shirk work on the part of the appellate officer... who had to be reprimanded about the serious lapses in discharge of his duties,'' Joshi, in his order, said. The SIC also directed the municipal commissioner to inquire into the lapses by the PIO of the City Engineer's office that forwarded the RTI query to the urban development after 26 days. The PIO of the urban development department, Rajesh Govil, has also been penalised for withholding information for a delay of more than 100 days.
  7. BMC overlooks illegal hoardings in suburbs as reported by Linah Baliga November 02, 2008 DNA While the BMC issues notices to hoarding agencies for breaching the guidelines of its new hoarding policy, it continues to ignore illegal hoardings in the suburbs. An application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act made in 2007 by two residents of Jai Mahal building on Linking Road, Khar (West), revealed that two huge hoardings set up on their building were illegal. But almost a year and a half later, the BMC’s H-West ward office is yet to initiate action to get the hoardings removed. Meanwhile, residents of the building have to live with leakages in their ceilings and walls, allegedly caused by the hoardings. “The nails punched into the walls have caused major leakages in our children’s room,” said Gurpreet Singh Sahni, one of the RTI applicants. “Our kids have stopped inviting friends home as a result. The hoardings also attract pigeons and the place is littered with droppings.” Sahni’s neighbour Sunil Wagh said he has had to repaint his walls to hide the leakages in his living room. “The floor of the terrace is damaged,” he said. Asked about the illegal hoardings, Milind Shambharkar, deputy municipal commissioner (special), first claimed that “there is not a single illegal hoarding in the whole of Mumbai”. But when told about the RTI reply received from the BMC’s H-West office, he said, “I cannot comment until I inquire into the matter. I will let you know soon.” DNA - Mumbai - BMC overlooks illegal hoardings in suburbs - Daily News & Analysis
  8. As reported by TNN on timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 01 November 2008: Filing RTI queries to be a click away soon-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India Filing RTI queries to be a click away soon MUMBAI: Getting information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act will soon be just a click away. In a month's time, citizens will be able to file their RTI applications on the BMC website. According to BMC officials, the process will be centralised and the applications will be forwarded to the civic body's concerned departments. The payments can be made in the same way as property taxes are paid. "We are working out the final nitty-gritties of the process. We are also taking into consideration the fact that many people are not computer savvy. Our Citizen Facilitation Centres (CFCs) will help them file their queries,'' said Suresh Mhatre, vice president of Tata Consultancy Services. "The website will allow people to post their address so that they can be provided with the necessary documents,'' he added. The civic body had, at the outset of its portal, put up instructions on filing an RTI query. "This makes it easy for citizens to frame their queries without getting confused. Now, things will be easier as they will be able to file their applications online,'' said additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar.
  9. sidmis

    RTI exposes bogus SRA scheme

    RTI exposes bogus SRA scheme as reported by Linah Baliga, September 25, 2008, DNA Pereirawadi residents have now approached the grievance committee. Had the authorities verified the necessary documents before giving a green signal for the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme, unceremonious demolitions in Pereirawadi, Bandra (west), on June 2, could have been avoided. The demolition drive rendered 21 families homeless. However, a lot of previous allegations made by the Pereirawadi residents regarding the bogus SRA scheme have now been corroborated with documentary evidence, courtesy the Right to Information (RTI). The affected residents had challenged the authenticity of the Annexure-II list and the subsequent 70% majority, which enabled the builder to form the alleged bogus society. However, the residents have now submitted the evidence to the high-powered Grievance Committee which was appointed by the Bombay high court to look into SRA related issues. DNA is in possession of the documents submitted to the committee. One of them indicates that the chief promoter Cyril Mecwan submitted the election ID and ration card of his mother Monica Mecwan to prove her eligibility criteria on Annexure-II list in 2006. However, she had passed away in 1999. A major evidence against the builder Dilip Bobade Patil, who claimed complete possession of the private land, plot CTS No 650 in Pereirawadi, states that 50% of the plot is still in the name of the original part-owners. A letter from them also says that their plot is not sold to Patil and is still in their possession and no NOC has been given by them for the redevelopment. Probably, the last nail in the coffin is the discovery that though Mecwan holds a ration card and election ID in Bandra (east), he has claimed a place in Pereirawadi in Bandra (west) and has even taken the position of the chief promoter. DNA - Mumbai - RTI exposes bogus SRA scheme - Daily News & Analysis
  10. RTI downs meter on image of city cabbies as reported by Viju B, 19 Oct 2008, TNN MUMBAI : Compared to other cities, Mumbai's taxi drivers used to have a good track record of taking people to desired destinations without ch arging them exorbitantly. But, in the past few years, this image has taken a beating with city cabbies refusing to ply short-distance routes. Whether from CST to Churchgate, Mahim to Bandra, Dadar to Century Plaza or Borivli (E) to Borivli (W), many taxi drivers refuse to ply or demand more than shown in the meter. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Tardeo booked 2,213 taxi drivers in the past three years for refusing to ply short distances in the island city alone. "The problem has become acute. I don't even attempt to hail a cab for short distances,'' said Chetan Kothari, who filed an RTI query on this issue. Social activists say the number of bookings may not reflect the extent of the problem as many commuters may not have pursued the legal route and lodged complaints. In October 2005, 36 taxi drivers were booked for not plying short distances. By July 2008, the number increased to 187. Office-goers who are forced to take cabs from areas like Dadar and Mahim say they have to walk to the station. "My office is just a 10-minute drive to the station. But as no taxis ply to the station, I end up missing the 6.27 pm local almost every day,'' says Virar resident Bupendra Sharma. Patients who visit Hinduja Hospital in Mahim say that taxi drivers refuse to ply to nearby areas such as Dadar. "They give excuses like there is no gas or that they are planning to have lunch,'' says Prakash Shah, who had gone to the hospital recently and was not able to hire a taxi to his residence near Shivaji Park. Senior RTO officials admit that the problem persists even though they have already suspended the licences of errant drivers. "We have so far suspended 2,053 licences in the past three years of taxi drivers who have refused to ply short distances. We feel more people should register complaints with the RTO to stop this menace,'' said a senior RTO official. A L Quadros, president of the Mumbai Taxi Union, countered the charge by stating that drivers were often harassed by traffic police. "They do not have any space to park their cars and that is the reason they refuse to ply short distances,'' he said. The traffic police rubbished Quadros' claim and said there is no restriction on taxis plying to stations. "Of course, we will not allow taxis to create a traffic block. But if any taxi driver refuses to ply, people can complain to the traffic cop on duty,'' the official said. RTI downs meter on image of city cabbies-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  11. sidmis

    RTI appeals go hi-tech

    RTI appeals go hi-tech as reported in Times of India, 14 Oct 2008,TNN MUMBAI: Right to Information (RTI) appeals before the information commissioner will now be heard through video-conferencing. The technology that will save time and money and accelerate the disposal rate of cases pending in appeal, was installed on Monday in coordination with the state information technology department and state information commission. "Earlier, for appeals coming before the appellate authority, the officer related to the query and the applicant had to be present for the hearing, but this will not be the case once appeals are heard through video-conferencing,'' said Kshatrapati Shivaji, secretary, IT. According to the new system, the officer and the appellate can go to the nearest district collector's office, exchange their queries and get the issue resolved, Shivaji added. For the period starting from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2007, Maharashtra received 3.16 lakh applications under RTI. Of these, applicants who were unhappy with the information provided to them went in appeal to the information commissioner. Such appeals will now be heard using the new technology. "This system will save the energy and time of the government employee who earlier had to travel all the way to the venue fixed for hearing the appeal,'' said Suresh Joshi, the state information commissioner. If the system is successful, the full-fledged use of this technology will start after Diwali, he added. Recently addressing the media at Mantralaya, Joshi had said, "I am happy with the job done by the information officer, but not with the first appellate and I have registered my complaint with chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.'' According to the state information commission, the number of RTI applications received by the state is much higher then the application received by the Central Information office. The maximum of the RTI applications demand information related to the state urban development department followed by housing department, reveals the statistics of the SIC. The act came into existence in the state on October 12, 2005, and to ensure that more awareness about RTI across the state, the SIC has suggested inclusion of a chapter on RTI for secondary level students. RTI appeals go hi-tech-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  12. sidmis

    One eatery, three PIN codes

    One eatery, three PIN codes as reported by DNA Correspondent, October 13, 2008 Haji Ali Juice Centre exists in three different locations on municipal records If the municipal records are anything to go by, then the Haji Ali Juice Centre exists at three different places in the city. While the popular eatery operates from a single outlet located near the Haji Ali Dargah on the Lala Lajpatrai Road, municipal records list the presence of the eatery at three different locations distinguished by separate postal index numbers (PIN). The pin code is a six digit code that specifies the postal address of a premise. A property can have only one pin code. Documents available with DNA, however, reveal that three different pin codes, 26, 11 and 34, have been provided for procuring permissions from the shops and establishments department, license department and the hydraulic department for operating the outlet. Even description of the postal addresses, the road and the chowk names, varies from one another. The information was procured on the basis of an RTI application recently made by social activist Amit Maru with the collector's office. Maru had sought copies of various permissions given to the juice centre. Replying to the application, the collector's office, attached copies of bills levied on the eatery by various civic departments, along with a copy of the permission. The copies revealed the startling information. On its brochures, the outlet, declares its postal address as that existing on Lala Lajpatrai Road, Haji Ali Circle, Mumbai-26. While registering the unit with the shops and establishments department, the same address has been used. However, while getting permission for displaying the outlet's nameplate with the license department of the BMC, the juice centre has specified its postal address as being near Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai-11. A third version of the postal address has been used for water and sewerage connections. Even the name of the juice centre has been altered in this case. The address specified here is Race Course Juice Centre, Vatsala Desai Chowk, Haji Ali, Mumbai-34. The juice centre has been functioning since 1989. While civic officials attributed the difference in postal address to a lack of coordination between departments, Maru alleged that the lapses could well be deliberate. The shops is registered at the postal address it uses, however, for setting up a nameplate at the site and sewerage connections, a separate postal address has been used. DNA - Mumbai - One eatery, three PIN codes - Daily News & Analysis
  13. They take trip to educate villagers about their rights as reported by Kartikeya ,TNN, 13 Oct 2008, Times of India MUMBAI: It is not every day that residents of a remote village wake up to find a Bombay high court judge telling them about their rights. Neither is it common for law students to get tips on last minute preparation for their exams from the same judge in the second class compartment of a local train. On Sunday morning, Justice S Radhakrishnan of the Bombay high court hopped on to a local train with 40 students of K C Law College. They were headed for the tiny hamlet of Mulgaon, beyond Badlapur, to educate the villagers about their rights guaranteed under three laws enacted in recent timesthe Right to Information (RTI) Act, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and The Domestic Violence Act. In the journey that took over an hour, the future lawyers interacted freely with Radhakrishnan, asking him what law books he read as a student in the 1970s and taking tips on how to be a successful advocate. Radhakrishnan, too, was full of curiosity. When he saw a first year student, Prince Gala, with two rather large diamond studs shining on his ear, he could not help but ask, "Are the studs stuck or have you pierced your ears?'' Prince smiled and replied that he had gone through the pain of piercing. The students were armed with banners and cut-outs meant to spread awareness about the recently enacted legislations . Their programme included not only giving lectures under the watchful eye of Radhakrishnan, but also performing skits which showed the practical feasibility of demanding rights guaranteed by law. In Badlapur, local judicial officers joined the group and got onto a state transport bus that drove them to their destination. The villagers were not perturbed by the presence of policemen and officials and gathered in strength in the courtyard of a temple where the programme was conducted. "Do not get stressed. Just go out there and take legal literacy to the people,'' Radhakrishnan was heard telling a student who suffered stage fright before his performance. The women warmed up to the skits that depicted dowry harassment and mental abuse. "We showed them that their husbands cannot force their daughters to work in the fields at the cost of education or demand dowry,'' said Nilesh, who played the part of an abusive husband in one skit. Another skit demonstrated how to secure a government card to be assured of employment. "I practised dancing in a sari for several days to convey the message that proper implementation NREGS can bring prosperity to the village ,'' said Riddhi Badiyani. The enthusiasm of the villagers could be seen from the fact that both men and women lined up to collect RTI forms, which they will now use to get information about projects promised for their village. Having spent the day at Mulgaon, Radhakrishnan, who chairs the high court's Legal Service Committee that organises such camps, got into a local to head back home. He discussed finer aspects of criminology with students and thanked them for their support to the work his panel is doing. "Our next stop will be Arthur Road jail where undertrials are facing so many problems,'' said Vikas Thakkar, a second year student. As for the justice himself, all he wanted to do after a hard day's work was to take a long shower and catch up on the day's score in the India-Australia test match. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/They_take_trip_to_educate_villagers_about_their_rights_/articleshow/3587981.cms
  14. ‘Changes’ in development plan worry citizens as reported by Linah Baliga | October 06, 2008 | DNA The civic body’s new Development Plan (DP), slated to be released in 2011, is generating fear in the minds of active citizens as areas reserved for municipal markets in the old DP have gradually been parceled over to private parties for years. A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Vidya Vaidya revealed that many such plots on the DP reserved for municipal markets have disappeared and, instead, commercial super markets have come up. Similarly, reservation of open spaces for recreations grounds and playgrounds, sculptor's studios, municipal primary schools and hospitals have also disappeared from the DP. In 2006, General Arun Kumar Vaidya Nagar Rahawasi Sangh had won a case where the concerned authorities were asked to build municipal markets within two years. "But no action has been taken either by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or Maharashtra Housing and Area Developmental Authority (Mhada) so far," said Vaidya. Raising an important point, another citizen activist asked, "Why is the new DP needed when the ward office allows places to get encroached? How will the new DP ensure that the plots reserved won't disappear?" Vaidya opined that there are many such municipal markets existing all over the city and suburbs that can be utilised to solve the hawking problem. "Hawkers like the ones on Hill Road and Linking Road and vegetable vendors, especially who hawk wares that are not site specific, can be shifted to municipal markets to give dignity to their profession," said Vaidya. DNA - Mumbai - ‘Changes’ in development plan worry citizens - Daily News & Analysis
  15. Sr citizen takes on ‘bullying’ builder as reported by SUKHADA TATKE,TNN 6 Oct 2008 MUMBAI: Refusing to be coerced into a signing a redevelopment agreement, a senior citizen from Andheri dragged a “bullying” developer to court. Seventy-year-old Baby Shetty has been living as a tenant on the ground floor of Gulam Mohammed building in Andheri (W) since 1960. “My troubles began when Gulam Immamuddin, the original landlord of the building, died in 2000,’’ said Shetty. “In 2001, one Nabi Sheikh approached the tenants saying he was the sole proprietor of AS Builders and that he was the landlord. However, in 2005, we were flummoxed when one Vijay Mallya of Ameya Developers introduced himself as the landlord,’’ she said. But that wasn’t all. Soon, the tenants realised that Mallya had signed a redevelopment agreement with the society neighbouring their building. “We were shocked to learn that the two plots had been amalgamated without our knowledge and the redevelopment agreement stood for both the plots,’’ said Shetty. She then decided to take the legal route. In December last year, her lawyer Bhavesh Parmar filed a suit against Mallya in the city civil court challenging the redevelopment agreement. The court stayed the matter. Mallya, too, filed a suit in the small causes court against Shetty, alleging that she was refusing to vacate the property. “Claiming to be the owner of the property, Mallya said the structure was dilapidated. He accused Shetty of causing nuisance by not vacating it,’’ said Parmar. “We challenged Mallya’s ownership claim and asked him to furnish proof. Mallaya did not do so as his name did not figure in the property card,’’ he said. Shetty alleged that she was being harassed by the builder. “One day, somebody removed the first-floor roof. By then, the remaining three tenants had been forced to leave and I had to suffer alone. The ceiling of my ground-floor apartment was damaged because of all the leakage. It was a living hell,’’ she recalled. Then, Mallya submitted an affidavit in the small causes court, with changes in the property card. “We used the RTI Act to get hold of the documents he had submitted. We found that the papers had been forged,’’ said Parmar. “Mallya had submitted seven deeds of conveyance (right from the original landlord to his heirs to the first builder who had approached the tenants claiming to be the landlord) registered in 1994, but the documents annexed were of much later dates, even as late as 1997 and 2005,’’ he said. Mallya’s lawyer Archana Khan, however, told TOI that Shetty was not a tenant, but her husband was one. “She did not get the tenancy transferred. How can she claim rights to the house?’’ But Parmar said tenancy rights were automatically transferred to the closest kin, who had been living in the house for a long period. The city civil court last week accepted that Mallya was not the landlord. Sr citizen takes on ?bullying? builder-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  16. Info official to pay for delay in answering query as reported by Viju B,TNN | 29 Sep 2008 MUMBAI: This will bring cheer to numerous citizens who are still struggling to get details of the status of investigation of pending cases filed at various police stations across the city. State information commissioner Suresh Joshi has penalised the public information officer (PIO), who was attached to crime branch's economic offences wing, for not providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act within the stipulated period to an applicant. In his order, Joshi directed that Rs 2,750 should be deducted from PIO S B Mohite's salary, as he had provided the required information after a delay of 11 days. RTI activist Chetan Kothari had in February last year filed an RTI query asking what action the crime branch had taken against the managing director of Suman Motels Ltd, Surendra Khandar, after summons and arrest warrants were served on him in the multi-crore Suman Motel investment scam. Though the query was filed on February 20 last year, the department asked for a 15-day extension after the stipulated period of 30 days. But Kothari did not get any response even after the promised date and he went in for an appeal. "I finally got the information in April first week last year after a delay of 11 days," Kothari said. He said that thousands investors who had lost money in the investment scam had the right to know the case details. The multi-crore Suman Motels investment scam surfaced five years ago after the company duped tens of thousands of investors who had taken investment schemes offering stakes in holiday homes, plantations, and resorts. "The company floated bonds, certificates, promissory notes and even advance cheques, all of which bounced, and investors were left in the lurch," Kothari, who is also the convener of the Suman Motel Investor Forum, said. The company, according to him, had made unrealistic claims, saying they would double the investment in five years. Investors like Chandresh Shah had invested Rs 1 lakh in the property share scheme, and they promised to double the amount. "But I did not even get my principle amount back," Shah said. The police had earlier issued 149 arrest warrants and 159 summons which have been pending with two police stations in the city against two top executives of the company. Info official to pay for delay in answering query-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  17. The case of missing dustbins: 473 installed, only 12 remain as reported by Viju B, 26 Sep 2008, TNN MUMBAI: One thing that seems to be disappearing faster than the mounds of garbage that pile up everyday in the city is the ubiquitous dustbin. The civic authorities had installed 473 dustbins in two wards (F south and north) in the last three years but today only 12 remain. The dustbins were installed near pavements, police chowkies, schools, railway stations, ward offices, hospitals and gardens situated at Dadar, Parel, Matunga, Sion, Sewri and Wadala. "The dustbins vanished weeks after they were installed. When someone informed the authorities about the missing dustbins, they were re-installed again, but went missing again," said Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti Adhikaar Manch, which had filed a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on the status of the missing dustbins in F south ward. The ward office replied that 300 dustbins were installed in the last three years, of which only 12 remained. The civic officials even replaced 112 dustbins after they went missing in the same period, but even these went missing. In F north ward, comprising areas like Wadala and Sion, all 174 dustbins which were installed in the last one year have been uprooted. "The ward office replied that only the poles that used to hold the dustbins are remaining there," said Mahiti Adhikaar activist Anand Castelino. The situation is similar in all other wards. "Crores of rupees of the public exchequer went down the drain. The BMC has not even bothered to file a FIR with the local police stations on the missing dustbins," Prabhu said. Residents staying in this area alleged that the thefts were done very systematically as entire lots of dustbins have been missing in a span of one year. "Even dustbins placed in front of police chowkies near Dadar and Wadala have been stolen," Castelino said. Meanwhile, the civic authorities defend their position stating that the residents in these area seldom co-operate with them. "People lack civic sense. We even came across cases in which residents had burned the bins. It is the responsibility of the citizens to look after public property. Our staff cannot be on duty 24/7 looking after these dustbins," said U R Shiroorkar assistant engineer, environment department. F south Ward officer V Patwardhan said there is not enough staff in the corporation to monitor these thefts. The case of missing dustbins: 473 installed, only 12 remain-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  18. Activists want 25 RTI cases to be heard a day as reported by DNA Correspondent, September 25, 2008 RTI activists have got together and formulated a five-point strategy for information commissioners to bring down the incredibly high pendency of cases in appeal. At last count, 16,500 cases were waiting to be heard. A team of six RTI activists, including Shailesh Gandhi (now appointed as the central information commissioner), which was allowed to remain present and observe 100 hearings conducted by the two city-based information commissioners, Dr Suresh Joshi and Ramanand Tiwari, submitted its findings and recommendations to the state information commission on Monday. Observing that information commissioners often did not report to work on time and did not conduct hearings five days a week, the activists panel has demanded that commissioners respect the discipline of timing. Concluding that appeals were disposed of in average eight minutes, the panel has now demanded that each commissioner hear at least 25 cases a day. The state presently has five information commissioners. RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu said considering that every commissioner hears cases for 20 days every month, 2,500 cases could be disposed of every month. “This way all the pending cases could be cleared in less than seven months,” Prabhu said. For a faster disposal of cases, the state is considering a proposal to provide three more information commissioners. Prabhu, however, said that with better discipline, the present lot would suffice. DNA - Mumbai - Activists want 25 RTI cases to be heard a day - Daily News & Analysis
  19. anuj_gupta

    New member from Anuj

    Hi, This is Anuj Gupta from Mumbai. I mainly got attracted to this site regarding my queries on getting tax refund. Otherwise I have known about RTI for some years. Great to see this site and the vibrant community. Looking forward to learnign and sharing. Regards, Anuj Gupta .x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x
  20. sidmis

    Mystery of the missing file

    Mystery of the missing file as reported by SUKHADA TATKE |12 Sep 2008|TNN All's not well with the way the Sunshine Act is working in Mumbai; the Right To Information Act, supposed to be the magic wand that can get things working in an inefficient and apathetic bureaucracy , has needed help from the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission to be effective in a neighbourhood battle between an Andheri housing society and some tenants. But Mohammad Afzal did not know all this when he filed an RTI application with the BMC, seeking to know whether the health club that was coming up inside the society had all the permissions . What prompted the RTI query was a directive from the Deepti Shakti Mukti Housing Society, asking all tenants to pay the health club's fees even if they were not using its facilities. So Afzal filed his first RTI query in August 2006 with the BMC's building proposals department at Bandra. "Does the housing society have the required permission from all the authorities concerned to run the club? How many times have society members approached the authorities for permission ? Can you provide a plan of the building?'' were some of the questions that the RTI plea asked. "The Public Information Officer (PIO) of the building proposals department asked me to provide the plot number as well as the city survey number (called 'CTS' ) of the housing complex. I submitted both of them immediately. But, after that, I failed to hear from the department,'' Afzal told TOI. "They evaded me every time I went there and finally said the relevant files were missing,'' he added. So, 58 days after he filed the first RTI plea, Afzal filed an appeal with the relevant appellate authority in the BMC. "But, in the hearing , the BMC PIO said he had found the 'missing ' file and that I could collect it from him the next day after paying the charges,'' Afzal said. But, somehow, the file was again missing the next day. "They simply told me that the file had again gone missing,'' Afzal said. So he filed an appeal with the State Information Commission. The BMC official was called for the hearing - it was already July 2008, about two years after he had filed the first RTI query - and the same farce unfolded all over again. Yes, the file had been located; and would Afzal be kind enough to come and collect the file "the next day''? Afzal again went to the BMC building proposals department and, again, he was told that the file had vanished. The 45-year-old then took up the case with the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, detailing the type of stonewalling that he had to put up with. But even he was not prepared for what followed. He got a call from the BMC office the very next day; the file had finally been located and would be handed over to him if he could drop in at the office. The surprises did not end there. The BMC on its own invited Afzal to inspect the documents when he visited its Bandra office the next day and the file revealed that the health club was not mentioned at all in the building plan. But the war may not have been won. The BMC has not said anything about what it plans to do with the illegal health club. BMC PIO V L Joshi was also not very apologetic about the two-year not-so-merry-go-round that Afzal had to go through. "It was he who delayed giving us the relevant information about the plot of land,'' he insisted. THE BACKLOG 16,500 cases are pending in the State Information Commission. 10,000 cases have been disposed of from March 2006 to August 2008. Each information commissioner hears 700-1000 appeals every year. Each Bombay High Court hears about 2,500 cases annually. Mystery of the missing file-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
  21. Hi All, I live in New Mumbai and face power cuts on a regular basis. Well I understand that this power cuts are become necessary due to shortage of electricity, they are done in a very haphazard way. There are no fixed timings and when you call the MSEB sub sector, they say they are not given an fixed timings for this. They are informed when it should be out off only 5 minutes before the time, they have no prior intimation. There are no fixed timings and the timings change nearly everyday. This inconveiences citizens alot as we need electricity for our basic lives and cannot plan our day properly due to the unstructured way in which the power cuts are done. People even get stuck in the lifts due to this. Please let me know whether getting to know who makes this decision about at what times the power cuts should be done and on what basis, falls under the perview of the RTI act. Also, please let me know how I can go about placing a request to get this information. I would also apprciate advice on how to go about ensuring this is done in a more structured way, once I receive the information. Regards, Steven
  22. As reported by Sukhada Tatke of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 29 August 2008: Slumdwellers in Malad live on the edge -Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India Slumdwellers in Malad live on the edge MUMBAI: Their homes are precariously perched on the edge of a hill-tin sheds propped up to support the shanties, while the slope continues to chip away. Over 100 families at Wadarpada in Dhanjiwadi in Malad (E), off Western Express Highway, continue to stay like this, hoping that some day, they will get a proper home under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. The scheme, however , finds space only on paper though it was supposed to be implemented five years ago. The residents had signed an agreement with Shah Housecon Pvt Ltd for the redevelopment of their building and according to the deal, five societies , with 1,000-odd families, were sanctioned accommodation under the SRA scheme. But one of the societies-Madan Mohan chawl-seems to be denied of the benefits. In fact, details procured under the RTI reveal that of the five societies that were taken up for the project, the deputy collector's department had the proof of eligibility only for three. "When five societies have been granted permission for redevelopment, how can the sanctioning office not have its proof ? Some of the names that are supposed to be on the list are not there, while those who do not even stay there or maybe have died long ago feature on the eligibility list,'' said Vinod Shelar, north Mumbai BJP secretary. "We have been waiting to move into our transit accommodation for eternity. We signed the papers five years ago but still we stay in this pathetic condition,'' said 50-yearold Lalita Jani. "The builder is just not going ahead with the project. After demolishing a few homes and then constructing the new buildings, they have stopped the work.'' Details under the RTI Act showed that the builder had not included 108 homes in the rehabilitation scheme, while 300 of the residents do not even feature on the eligibility list. "We have lived here for more than 40 years. We also had three shops. Now, we are not eligible for a home and all we are getting is a shop,'' said 67-year-old Keshavlal Calatta. When TOI visited the site last week, there were huge cracks in the homes, while the stairs leading to the shanties along the slope were wet and slippery. Residents complained that the situation got particularly bad during the rains. The sides of the hill keep eroding and it is impossible to move around the home without the constant fear of it caving in, a resident said. "If the children go too near the edge, they can fall down,'' said 45-year-old Lalita Chondekala. They do not even have basic amenities like toilets. "There were 16 toilets, they have broken down all of them. Now we are forced to use public loos, which are really far away,'' said a resident. Meanwhile, builder Ramjibhai Shah denied that he was in charge of the project. "I have not undertaken the scheme for the redevelopment of the Madan Mohan chawl,'' he said. However, TOI has a copy of the RTI reply that mentions that the particular society had been shortlisted for redevelopment. Additional collector B G Powar said he had also received complaints regarding the annexure II. "The annexure II (the eligibility list) was approved in 2003 but now we are investigating the loopholes in them,'' he said.
  23. MIAL(Mumbai International Airport Ltd) is a part of 'state', says HC Reported by Anshika Misra June 06, 2008 in DNA MUMBAI: In a landmark judgment with far-reaching consequences for private entities, the Bombay high court has held that Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), though registered as a private company, performs a public function and is a "state" as defined by the Constitution. The ruling on Thursday came in a case relating to a contract for the new duty-free shopping arcade at the international airport. The HC set aside the Rs571-crore retail contract handed by MIAL to Hong Kong-based DFS Group to design and manage the arcade. "Even though it (MIAL) is registered under the Companies Act, its functions in operating, managing and developing the Mumbai international airport cannot be characterised as 'purely private'," Justice DK Deshmukh and Justice ND Deshpande held. The HC has given the MIAL eight weeks to complete the procedure of inviting fresh tenders for awarding the contract. The order was passed in a petition filed by Dubai-based Flemingo Duty Free, which challenged MIAL's action to deny it participation in the tender process. With the court holding MIAL to be a "state", actions by MIAL can now be challenged in court, it comes under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and it will be subject to the courts' writ jurisdiction. (Writs are judicial orders issued to a state or government body.) MIAL, a consortium led by GVK, is supported by the government in operating, managing and developing the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). Airports Authority of India (AAI) has leased out the international airport to MIAL for 30 years. The court held that MIAL performs statutory functions and exercises statutory powers under the AAI Act, 1994. "It (MIAL) is not a simple lessee of property," the judgment stated. MIAL had issued a public announcement in October 2006 inviting expressions of interest (EOI) for the duty-free retail contract. Located in the international terminal 2C at CSIA, the duty-free shopping area will be spread across 24,541 square feet. MIAL got nine EOIs including one from Flemingo, which was invited to make a presentation in November 2006. Eventually, Flamingo was not shortlisted. Flemingo challenged MIAL's action in court. The HC held MIAL's action to be "arbitrary". "Total absence of any reasons in any formal document or evaluation, admitted non-communication of any reasons to the petitioner (Flemingo) and contradictory untenable stands taken in different affidavits by MIAL clearly shows that it has acted in an arbitrary manner in short-listing entities," the court held. DNA - Mumbai - MIAL is a part of ‘state’, says HC - Daily News & Analysis
  24. As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 26 August 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Trees_felled_in_festive_fervour_/articleshow/3405572.cms Trees felled in festive fervour MUMBAI: As city residents get into the festive mood after breaking dahi handis for Janmashtami and with Ganesh Chaturthi around the corner, tree lovers are wary that this fervour may end up harming trees. Tree lovers say that instances of branches being illegally chopped and trees being trimmed to increase visibility of banners and hoardings is on the rise, especially during celebrations that draw huge crowds. In some areas, trees are also being illegally trimmed to make way for construction of mandals for Ganesh Chaturthi. During Janmashtami celebrations on Sunday, branches of three trees in Nerul's Sector 19 were chopped to make banners more visible. Residents of Madhavi building , who witnessed the trees being trimmed, said that all this happened under the nose of the local corporator whose office is located opposite the site. Some activists like member of F-North Ward Citizens Federation G R Vora say that government apathy in dealing with cases governing tree trimming may be behind this practice. "A citizen who spots this being done can lodge an FIR at the local police station, but the case doesn't come up for hearing for years together,'' he said, adding that after trees are illegally cut, the branches are immediately whisked away in trucks. "The offenders leave behind no clues. Then, it becomes difficult to even prove the crime,'' he said. Other activists say that sometimes small-time contractors are hired to illegally chop branches. The contractors then make extra money by selling off the wood, if the trimming is of a huge quantity. Vora said several instances of tree trimming had occurred at Flank Road, near the Jain Society in Sion west and the area between Sion and Dadar Circles. Member of NGO I Love Mumbai and nominated member of the BMC's Tree Authority Niranjan Shetty said that a case of tree trimming had also been recently reported at Mumbai Central. An RTI query revealed that the civic body had no mechanism in place to check illegal hoardings or to book those who had violated laws. In its reply, the civic body stated that no penalty had been imposed on anyone for violation of rules since January 1 this year in the F-North ward. "I am a resident of the area and I can see that hoardings and banners have been put up for months together even though the permissible time limit is five days for commercial use and 10 days for political use,'' said Vora, adding that if a hoarding owner chops a tree or cuts a branch to guarantee better visibility, the only action taken by the BMC is licence revocation. "There is no way to deter a person from committing the same mistake again,'' said Vora.
  25. Video conferencing for outstation RTI applicants [of Maharastra] AS reported by Aneesh Phadnis, Economic Times, TNN Right To Information applicants in the state have reason to cheer. From next month the state information commission will use video conferencing facilities to hear RTI appeals filed by those based outside Mumbai. The state's chief information commissioner , Suresh Joshi, confirmed the move and said it will result in saving travel cost and time. "Both the applicant and information officer will not have to leave their city. In Mumbai we can use the video conferencing facilities in Mantralaya or the new administrative building. The applicant need not travel to Mumbai, but will have to visit his area's divisional commissioners' office which has video conferencing facilities. As usual, we will issue notices of the hearing to all parties," Joshi said. The Central Information Commission , which is based in New Delhi and is the appellate authority for issues relating to the central government, hears cases using video conferencing. Joshi said he tried introducing video conferencing about two 1months ago, but came across some problem in the system. "I have spoken to the IT department regarding the issue," he added. The information commission, which was constituted three years ago, has commissioners in Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad, besides Mumbai . Till date, 27,000 appeals have been filed with the commission. Of these, about 15,000 are pending, the most being 3,500 applications from Pune. Joshi has also proposed a second post of an information commissioner in Pune. However, Joshi has so far been unable to get the posts of information commissioners appointed in Nashik and Amravati. The government sanctioned these two posts a year and half ago, but has not even selected candidates for the post. The government had shortlisted V N Deshmukh, former chairperson of MPSC, for the post in Amravati, but he was reluctant to accept. There was also a move to depute the information commissioner from Nagpur to Nashik but that too got shelved. RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi welcomed the move to use video conferencing for appeals, but cautioned that it was a peripheral issue. "The real issue before the state information commission is to clear its pendency and it should focus on it rather than sidetracking it," he said. Video conferencing for outstation RTI applicants-Quickies -Features-The Economic Times
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