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  1. As reported by Partha Sarathi Biswas at dnaindia.com on May 8, 2011 Emboldened by the interim stay order issued by the Bombay high court on Thursday against construction by civic bodies on river beds, activists in Pune have demanded an immediate cessation of all work related to river bed improvement and storm water drainage. Right to information (RTI) activist, Vijay Kumbhar, issued a notice to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Saturday, asking for immediate stoppage of the work. The Bombay high court on Thursday, issued the order while hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Baner Area Sabha and Jal Biradari, seeking a stay on the ongoing channelisation work undertaken by the PMC on the central course of the Devnadi river in Baner. DNA through its reports, ‘PIL against civic body to save Devnadi’ ( April 25) and ‘No concretisation of Devnadi: HC (May 6) had put the spotlight on the issue. Kumbhar, in his notice, said, “The order asks the PMC to stop all construction activities on river beds. We demand that all manner of work, be it laying of storm water drains, river beautification or laying of drain pipes be stopped with immediate effect.” Kumbhar demanded the PMC apply for environmental clearance for both ongoing and completed projects on river beds. The civic body is carrying out river bed beautification and laying of storm water drains along the river basins and river beds in the city. Both these works are being done under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Under the river bed beautification, the PMC has undertaken channelisation of the central stream from Mhatre bridge to Kharadi. Stretching over 7km, this work involves laying remo mattress (which are gabin structures made of wire and stone), which would increase the capacity of the river and also help in reducing pollution. The total cost of the project is around Rs100 crore. When questioned about the fate of this project, in light to the recent stay, Mangesh Dighe, environment officer, PMC, said, “I have yet to go through the order. The river beautification is being done without using any concrete. We will take a decision after consulting the legal advisor of the civic body.” In the storm water drain lines project, the civic body has to cover 541 km water streams in three phases. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs1,800 crore. The first phase was to work with four basins in Wadgaon Sheri, Wadgaon Budruk and Baner. The channelisation work of the Devnadi was the first of the river basins undertaken. Shivaji Sankpal, executive engineer, said the civic body had stopped all construction work with immediate effect. “However, we will continue our work of removing debris and other obstructions in the water streams as otherwise the chances of flash floods would remain,” he said. Baner resident and member of Baner Area Sabha, Anupam Saraph said the stay order is a beacon of hope for all environmentalists in the city.
  2. As reported by Partha Sarathi Biswas at dnaindia.com on 26 February 2011 The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has made full payment for the concretisation of the old Pune-Mumbai highway and Sinhagad Road, although 10% of the Rs80-crore project cost was earmarked for the non-existent cycle tracks and footpaths. These serious lapses have been revealed in a file inspection conducted by DNA under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI), at the office of Jawaharlal Nehru national urban renewal mission (JNNURM) of the PMC. The file inspection was done along with RTI activist, Vijay Kumbhar. Old Pune-Mumbai highway The documents show that the contract for concretisation, widening and laying of cycle tracks and footpaths was awarded to M/s Patel Engineering Ltd. The estimated cost was over Rs32 crore, for a distance of 5.5 km. The tenders of these works were granted to the party in January 2008. The work was supposed to be completed within a year. However, work extension was granted twice, for three months each, and finally the work was completed on paper in June 2009. These extensions escalated the total cost of the project by Rs3 crore. Land acquisition problems were cited as the reason for extensions. The original plans included the laying of footpath and cycle tracks of 7.5 metre width each on either side of the road. However, a spot inspection by DNA revealed that there was no sign of a cycle track on either side of the road. Footpaths were laid only in certain stretches. The stretch of road from Khadki railway station to Harris Bridge has no cycle track or footpath on either side. Sinhagad Road A total of 7.3 km of Sinhagad Road, from Sarasbaug to Dhayari Phata, was taken up for concretisation and other work. This included laying of footpaths, cycle tracks and beautification of road dividers. The tenders for this work was awarded to M/s Bhagyashri Contractors in April 2008. The total cost of the tender was Rs47 crore and the work was supposed to be completed within a year. The work ordered included laying of cycle tracks and footpaths of 4.5 metres on either side of the road. The bills for this project were cleared early last year, with the 10% of the tender amount being used for laying the cycle tracks. A road inspection by DNA revealed that the footpath was laid on some stretches. The cycle track was seen only between Parvati Water Works and Pu La Deshpande Garden. Speaking to DNA, Vinay Deshpande, officer on special duty of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s JNNURM cell, blamed land acquisition problems for the missing cycle tracks on both these road. “On the old Pune-Mumbai highway, the Khadki Cantonment Board did not hand over the land and so we could not lay the cycle tracks. “On Sinhagad Road, the land acquisition of the slums and other buildings is a problem, which prevented us from laying the cycle tracks and footpaths,’’ he said. However, Deshpande was unable to explain the full payment made to the contractors even though the footpath and cycle tracks were not laid as per the terms of the tenders. Asked if fresh tenders would be floated to lay the cycle tracks and footpaths, officers at the JNNURM cell replied in the affirmative. They pointed out that the fresh tenders would include the cost of land acquisition. Activist Vijay Kumbhar termed this as blatant siphoning of public money and demanded strict action against the officers. “In the first place, the JNNURM cell should have deducted the budget head meant for laying of cycle tracks before clearing the bills. Now they are talking of floating a second tender for laying of cycle tracks. I demand a full enquiry and the guilty officers should be punished,’’ he said.
  3. As reported By Parth Satam at mid-day.com on 22 Feb 2011 Civic body to go ahead with project despite unfavourable reports from Environment and Irrigation ministries The civic body, it seems, is in no mood to listen to anybody. RTI applications have revealed that the Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) plan to make Mula and Mutha rivers navigable has received unfavourable reports from the Environment and Irrigation ministry. Yet, it has decided to go ahead with the plan. Sarang Yadwadkar, an architect, on the basis of documents procured through the RTI Act, alleged the funds allocated for river restoration were being partially spent on the River Navigation Project Work. Yadwadkar said the proposal, prepared by city-based Naik Environmental Research Institute Ltd (NERIL), was forwarded to the Irrigation Department and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for approval in 2008 and the Central Design Office (CDO), Nashik, in 2009. "All the departments wrote letters to the PMC pointing out severe lacunae in the project," he said. In a letter written in 2008, Dr B Das, a member of the MoEF's Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), had pointed out a flaw in the NERIL report, which stated the city's current water demand was 11.47 tmc for a population of 30 lakh. It projects an increase to 25 tmc in 2021. Dr Das' letter says that with the projected increase in the NERIL report, enough water will not be available for navigational purposes. "With this figure (25 tmc), the flow in the Mutha river will get significantly reduced and adequate draught for navigation may not be available," the letter said. Another letter by Dr AK Bhattacharya dated February 7, 2008 has pointed out several methodological errors regarding certain statistical figures in the NERI report. "The report cannot be considered as pre-feasibility report. At the most it may be termed as an opinion conceived by the PMC," the letter said. Both the Irrigation Department and the CDO said going ahead with such a plan could create flood-like situations. The Irrigation Department said that reduction in the cross-sectional area of the riverbed would result in obstruction of water levels. The CDO said flood levels would increase from 1m to 3.5m. "The CDO also said that the question of approving the project does not even arise, apart from consultation on hydrological issues," Yadwadkar said. Yadwadkar further alleged that the funds allocated for the restoration work of the rivers under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) have been diverted by the PMC to carry out work on the navigation project. "The RTI reply I received on December 31, last year, clearly states that no separate funds have been received for the navigational project," Yadwadkar said. Excavation work on a part of Mutha river that flows below the Kalyaninagar bridge has been underway for the past three months. The Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade could not reached for his comments.
  4. As reported by Archana Dahiwal at dnaindia.com on Feb 14, 2011 The Shiv Sena has accused the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) of violating environmental norms by constructing 11,760 tenements in Sector 22 of Nigdi under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. It has also alleged that the civic body has carried out the project under the Jawaharlal Nehru national urban renewable mission (JNNURM), in the Red Zone. The party on Friday filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court and also wrote to Union minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation, Kumari Selja, drawing her attention to the alleged anomalies and asking her to probe the matter. On Monday, Kumari Selja and deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, would be attending a function to hand over the dwellings to the beneficiaries. Till now 1,200 beneficiaries have been allotted dwellings, and the remainder would be handed over the keys on Monday. The Centre has allocated Rs225 crore for the project, which started in 2007. PCMC officials were unavailable for comments on the issue. Sena corporator, Seema Savale, alleged that the PCMC has deliberately violated the Works of Defence Act, 1903 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. “The area where the tenements have come up is a Red Zone area. The Union defence ministry, in a notification issued in December 2002, said that land within 2 square km from outer wall of the Central Ammunition Depot, Dehu Road, is to be kept free of any obstructions and buildings (safety zone),” she said. She had filed an RTI application with the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Slum Rehabilitation Authority on November 29, 2010, asking for a copy of the no objection certificate (NOC) granted by the defence authorities. The SRA claimed that the land did not come under the Red Zone and hence NOC was not required from the defence authorities. However, Sena leaders claimed that the area comes under the Red Zone and therefore, the project is illegal. The Sena also alleged that the PCMC had started the project without obtaining “prior environmental clearance certificate”. It also questioned the SRA’s commencement certificate to the PCMC for the project. “The SRA is entitled to give such certificates when it involves slum land. But in this case it was ‘no development land’,” alleged Savale. She also questioned why technical sanction for tenders of the project was taken two years after it was approved in 2007. She also said that whenever such projects are undertaken, opinion and consent of 70% of the slum dwellers is mandatory. As there were no slums in Sector 22 and no consent taken before the commencement, it violates the Slum Act, 1971, thus making the project illegal. “The PCMC has included names of some who are not entitled to rehabilitation under the provisions of the Slum Act, 1971,” Savale alleged. The PCMC accepted tenders for construction of the project at an exorbitant rate of Rs372 crore. Yet, the construction is of poor quality, Sena leaders contended. Savale alleged that the PCMC has not followed the directives of the urban development department of the state government while initiating the process of modification of the development control (DC) rules till date. Savale requested the Union minister to pass an order on the above mentioned irregularities — especially against the acceptance of escalated tenders, even though there was no technical sanction, and against the fact that the project consultant had prepared the proposal suppressing major facts.
  5. No funds for city projects, ' 6L paid to consultants as reported in TNN, Sep 27, 2010 PANAJI: With only a year left, before Panaji's opportunity to avail funds from the Centre through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) concludes, it has now been revealed that the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) has spent almost ' 67 lakh on project consultants, and not been able to garner a single rupee for the capital city's development. The expenditure on appointing consultants for JNNURM projects was highlighted by opposition corporator Surendra Furtado, who sought the details by availing the Right to Information Act, 2005. According to the CCP's reply to the RTI queries, it has spent a total of ' 67,08,260 for the preparation of six Detailed Project Reports (DPRs). Bangalore-based Groupe SCE India Pvt Ltd have been appointed as consultants for four DPRs - Basic Services to Urban Poor, Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) in consonance with the objectives of the National Urban Transport Policy and the JNNURM reform agenda, Urban Renewal including development of parks, gardens and open spaces for the city of Panaji as per guidelines and requirements of JNNURM, and Sector Heritage Conservation for the city of Panaji as per guidelines and requirements of JNNURM. The DPR for water body preservation and hill slope protection has been prepared by Water and Power Consultancy Services, while the DPR for e-governance has been prepared by Upasani, Jain and Kshirsagar and G S Mathur and Co. "The CCP has missed the bus. Over ' 400 crore worth of funds could not be obtained by it since the last four years. It is time that like-minded people with the interests of the city of Panaji at heart, come together and stand for elections," Furtado said. tnn No funds for city projects, ' 6L paid to consultants - The Times of India
  6. As reported at straphanger.wordpress.com on 13 Aug 2010 The Right to Information Act, 2005 is meant to make government transparent, but Chennai’s monopoly, government-owned bus operator Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) refuses to see the law that way. In response to a Right to Information Act application seeking the Detailed Project Report of the Corporation for acquisition of buses under the Centrally-funded Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), it has taken cover under Section 8 (1) (d) of the Act to refuse disclosure. Section 8 (1) (d) states as follows: information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information. It is amusing that a government-run bus utility that is funded with taxpayer money has taken recourse to such a provision. Since the disclosure is likely to harm a third party, is it likely that MTC has planned some privatisation, and is in the process of firming up some deal? We will no doubt be appealing the refusal, and taking MTC to the Information Commission if it continues with its obdurate ways. The position taken by MTC is untenable, because similar DPRs of other states are available in the public domain, and on the Internet, and the funding agency, JNNURM hosts some documents suo motu. For example, here is a link to the DPR of the Airport Link project for Bangalore. Other questions that MTC has refused to answer, citing the same provision of the Act, are as follows: 1. The number of buses purchased by MTC using the JNNURM grant, and the value of the grant. 2.Do the JNNURM grant conditions stipulate that the buses should only be operated in the city covered by DPR, and not diverted for other use? In reply to a question on integration of transport under the Government of India’s Total Mobility Plan for cities, the MTC answers “brief details may be furnished” but provides nothing. It is our view that MTC is clearly in breach of the RTI Act. We urge other transport activists to also file RTI petitions, both with the MTC and the Ministry of Urban Development of the Union Government, seeking the DPR on Chennai transport. The attitude of MTC confirms our belief that the DMK Government is using transport as a pocket borough, and a tool for political activity, rather than as a modern transport network serving the people of Chennai. This is furtheraffirmed by the responses given by MTC in response to our queries on why it is not widely advertising its bus passes, including Travel as You Please for daily use. We are posting that information separately on this blog.
  7. As reported by Priyanka Sharma at dnaindia.com on July 7, 2010 The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) does not believe in doing as it preaches. Even though the civic body has launched a drive to install digital water meters across the city for equitable distribution and conservation of water, many of its own offices, including the headquarters, are yet to install even the conventional analog meters, an RTI query has revealed. In a reply to RTI activist Aziz Amreliwala’s query, the civic body has admitted that water connections in eight of its 24 administrative ward offices are not metered. Amreliwala had sought details on water consumption and billing at various municipal offices. In the case of an unmetered connection, the precise quantity of water consumption cannot be calculated and bills are charged not on the basis of actual consumption, but on average usage, which can lead to instances of water theft. The RTI reply reveals that even the civic headquarters, which houses the offices of the hydraulic chief and senior water department officials, is yet to install a water meter. Another irony is that while the hydraulic department advocates use of alternative water sources — including drawing water from bore wells, tube wells and rain water harvesting — to reduce dependence on drinking water supply, none of its ward offices have taken these initiatives. In fact, civic officials admitted that some of the ward offices, including the headquarters, are dependent on tanker water for non-potable needs. Amreliwala has questioned the seriousness of the civic body in undertaking water conservation drives. “They must implement the initiatives in their own offices first,” he said. At a time when the civic body has chalked out a Rs765-crore policy to replace all the water meters with electronic ones to keep a tab on water consumption trends of the city, this revelation has blotted BMC’s efforts to curb water thefts in the city and tabulate water consumption. The civic body claims to have installed 6,000 meters, while another 86,000 analog ones will be replaced in the coming months.
  8. Atul Patankar

    Funds granted but money not received

    As reported by Anurag Bende at punemirror.in on October 27, 2009 PMPML cannot improve its bus service as it has not yet received the entire grant alloted to it under JNNURM, an RTI application has revealed. Funds released by the Centre were held up by the state government for nearly six months, while it hasn’t yet released its own share till now Hopes of seeing improvement in Pune Mahanagar Parivan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) bus service once funds are given to the body under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, may not come true any time soon. It is disappointing to see that only a partial amount has reached PMPML so far, because of which hardly any improvement can be seen in the bus service available for Puneites,” said Jugal Rathi, president of PMP Pravasi Manch. Rathi, who is also an RTI activist, had filed an RTI to know about the status of funds given to PMPML under JNNURM. PMPML’s reply revealed that only a part of the funds allotted under JNNURM have arrived and the state government is yet to release its share of the money under the said scheme. Rathi added, “While allotting funds to PMPML under the JNNURM scheme, it was decided that the Central government will contribute 50 per cent of the total cost, while another 20 per cent will be given by the state government and the remaining 30 per cent will be contributed by the implementing body, which is the PMPML. According to the requirements of PMPML, Rs 227 crore were approved under JNNURM. Out of which Rs 113.5 crore were sanctioned by the Centre. In March this year, Centre gave its share of the total amount to the state government and instructed the state government to give that amount to the implementing body after adding its share.” Rathi added, “However, the information reveals that the government did not send the amount immediately. In fact, the state government released this amount only in September. Not only that, while releasing the amount to the implementing body, state government did not add its 20 per cent share to the amount. Therefore, after waiting for months the PMPML has got only 50 per cent of the amount.” Rathi further said, “It is necessary for PMPML to get the full amount in time so that some changes can be made in the right time. However, with time the cost of material needed for improving the services of PMPML will rise and the allotted amount will be of little use.” Source: Funds granted but money not received, News - City - Pune Mirror,Pune Mirror
  9. As reported by S. Rajendran at hinduonnet.com on 07 September 2009 An attempt at ensuring transparency and accountability Rules being drafted under the RTI Act for the transparency scheme Disclosures will be published in newspapers, municipality websites BANGALORE: Municipalities in the State, including the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, will periodically disclose the services being rendered by them from the next two months. This is to ensure transparency and accountability. The Department of Urban Development has drafted rules under the provisions of the RTI Act to implement the novel transparency scheme, Public Disclosure Rules. These rules are now being vetted by the Law Department and the authorities have commenced a debate on the same with 218 municipalities in the State. If need be, the rules will be modified before they are notified in two months. The voluntary disclosure will also ensure that the funds allocated under various schemes are appropriately utilised and there is transparency in public spending and accountability on the part of the officials concerned. There is also a penal clause under the new rules wherein an official found violating the rules will have to face disciplinary action under the Karnataka Civil Service and Conduct Rules. Sources in the Secretariat told The Hindu that disclosures would be published in newspapers, municipality websites and on the notice boards of the municipal offices concerned periodically. The Union Government and the Union Ministry of Urban Development, in particular, directed Karnataka some time ago to enact a Public Disclosure Law since the State is one of the important beneficiaries of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). It is mandated under JNNURM that the municipalities should voluntarily disclose what they are doing for the benefit of the people which would ensure that they are people-friendly and funds released under various schemes are appropriately utilised. Source: The Hindu : Front Page : Civic bodies to voluntarily disclose services offered by them
  10. Atul Patankar

    AMC wakes up to drainage crisis

    As reported by Rahul Mangaonkar, TNN at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 08 April 2009 AHMEDABAD: For close to a decade, Isanpur was given stepmotherly treatment by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) with leaking drainage lines posing a serious health hazard in the area. And, then came an RTI (Right to Information) application demanding accountability that forced AMC to act and invest Rs 10 crore to spruce up the drainage network. Moreover, the municipal commissioner ordered an inquiry and initiated disciplinary action against officers who ignored the application. Hirenkumar Shah of Krishnadham Row Houses in Isanpur had lodged a complaint with AMC in April 2007 regarding overflowing drains. When no response was forthcoming, he filed an application under RTI Act demanding to know what steps were being taken by AMC to resolve the problem. The municipal commissioner told Gujarat Information Commission that as an immediate solution work on a new main line was in progress at an estimated cost of Rs 30 lakh. In addition, AMC's 2009-10 budget had approved a 1,800 mm bypass drainage line costing Rs 10 crore. Also, under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), work costing Rs 395 crore had been planned to cover the entire city, primarily the eastern part. But, it took multiple hearings at GIC for Shah to get replies, including copy of the inquiry report ordered by the municipal commissioner. GIC had issued show-cause notices to AMC officials and demanded explanation from the commissioner why AMC should not pay compensation to Shah. AMC submitted before GIC that at the time Shah filed his application there was a breakdown of the drainage line in the south zone, Isanpur ward. It was necessary to concentrate all efforts on that matter and a reply couldn't be given to Shah in time. Taking note of the serious lapses on part of its officers, AMC had initiated disciplinary action against two officers and one officer had been transferred. Hence, the corporation pleaded that the proceedings taken up by GIC be dropped. Source: AMC wakes up to drainage crisis - Ahmedabad - Cities - The Times of India
  11. As reported in news.in.msn.com on 05 June 2008: Centre, M’rashtra told to file say on ULCRA repeal - National News – News – MSN India - News Centre, M’rashtra told to file say on ULCRA repeal Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the Union Government, the Maharashtra Government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to file their replies within four weeks, regarding a PIL challenging the repeal of the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act (ULCRA). The Division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice V M Kanade was hearing the PIL filed by suburban Mumbai residents P B Sawant, Mrunal Gore, Vasant Shirali and Kamal Desai, all of them former members of the Legislative Assembly here. The PIL says that the state entered into a MOU with the Central government for funding under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in October 2006, accepting the condition "that ULCRA would be repealed" to get funding from the Centre to develop Mumbai. The petitioners contended that the Central Government does not have the power to levy this condition as the JNNURM was included in Appropriation Act 2007-08 and no such condition was imposed by Parliament for disbursement of grant to state governments. Also, the MOU is opposed to public policy and should be set aside. According to information under RTI, the states and Union Territories did not make sincere efforts to implement the 1976 Act till June 1998, the PIL states. On account of non-implementation, the sale of land was frozen leading to land prices rocketing sky-high and creating an acute shortage in cities like Mumbai. The PIL also states that the reasons for Union government to repeal the ULCRA were neither accurate nor correct. The government could have acquired the land at Rs 7 crore from 335 land holders, created 26 lakh tenements and earned profits of around Rs 2,000 crore by selling them, it says. But by repealing the Act, state government lost a lot of money and also aggravated the problem of housing in Mumbai. "Their (union and state) bureaucrats and builders have conspired to defeat the object of the 1976 Act," the PIL says. The Petitioners said that the Chief Minister had moved the resolution to repeal the Act in Maharashtra in April 2007 before the Legislative Assembly but the same is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. Also, it is illegal because it was moved before the Assembly before obtaining approval from the Council of Ministers as prescribed under Maharashtra Government Business Rules, the PIL states. Repealing the Act violates various articles of the Constitution and is liable to be declared "ultra vires' and struck down, the PIL said.
  12. As reported by Shalini Nair in expressindia.com on 25 May 2008: BMC yet to open up, despite Disclosure Act - ExpressIndia.Com BMC yet to open up, despite Disclosure Act Mumbai, May 24 Among other things, PDA requires municipal corporations to reveal audited financial statements showing the balance sheet, receipts and expenditure every quarter; also, spending on providing major services and details of major works It was supposed to be a step above the Right to Information Act as it requires urban local bodies to voluntarily disclose information about their performance from time to time. But the city’s municipal corporation is way behind the March 31 deadline for implementing the Public Disclosure Act, a mandatory reform to be eligible for project funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The Act had been hailed as one of the most important reforms that would ensure better governance and accountability. The Maharashtra Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils (Second Amendment) Act 2007, popularly known as the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), came into force on 26th December 2007. Among other things, it requires municipal corporations to reveal their audited financial statements showing the balance sheet, receipts and expenditure every quarter. It also makes it compulsory for civic bodies to reveal the expenditure incurred on providing major services and details of major works, time of completion and disbursement made, among other things. The information has to be updated periodically and opened up for public scrutiny through the media or the BMC website. Deputy Municipal Commissioner P K Charankar said the BMC had so far completed 70 per cent of the reforms mandated under the JNNURM. As for the PDA, he said that he did not have much information, “As far as the budget goes, we have disclosed our expenditure for 2006-07. The expenditure for 2007-08 will take some more time.” According to Chief Accountant (Finance) Ram Dhas, the delay is partially due to the problem with the SAP system implementation. “Also, we received the copy of the Act from the state government only recently. The Act will be implemented within a fortnight. There are 13 items that have to be disclosed. Most of its is already ready.” The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) got its act together following a letter by local RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who pointed out the need to implement the PDA at the earliest. “Recently, I received a letter from the PMC telling me that all their records are in place and I could inspect them whenever I want,” said Kumbhar, adding that it is one of the major obligations under JNNURM conditions. The PDA would help citizens monitor each and every work in their local area, he said, adding that “for instance, in case of a road work, documents on the exact estimates, plans, money disbursed will be available for instant public scrutiny anytime.” RTI activist Kewal Semlani terms the BMC’s failure to implement the act as “complete laxity” on its part. “Look at how proactive the PMC has been,” he said. Semlani said that in case BMC does not put up the information in the public domain by the month end, RTI activists have decided that they would take up the matter with the Union Urban Development ministry as well as the World Bank. “This would lead to a stay in releasing BMC’s next installment of funds. Presently, the RTI Act also requires suo motu disclosure of all the above information, however with the PDA there is a fear of penal action and hence it is more effective,” said Semlani.
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