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On Tuesday, March 20 this year, unknown assailants killed Right to Information activist Poipynhun Majaw in Meghalaya, making it the first RTI related death in the Meghalaya. This marked the 68th death of RTI activists across the country since the Right to Information was first passed. Perhaps nothing can capture this case better than that of Nanjibhai Sondarva, who, on the 9th of March was allegedly clubbed to death by 6 people in Manekvada village, Gujarat soon after filing an RTI application demanding fiscal transparency about the road construction in his village. Police said the body of Poipynhun Majaw, the president of Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF), was found on Rymbai Road near Khliehriat, the headquarters of East Jaintia Hills district bordering Bangladesh and a prime mining area in the State. “We found wounds on his head probably caused by a heavy iron object. This looks like a case of murder, but we are waiting for the post-mortem report to find the culprits and uncover the motive behind the murder,” Nazarius Lamare, the district’s Superintendent of Police told The Hindu. Rights activists say they suspect the 38-year-old Mr Majaw could have paid the price for exposing a nexus between heads of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) and cement companies that were allegedly allowed to mine limestone without permission. Read the Source
SHILLONG: Tennydard Marak, who is following up the ST status issue of the Chief Minister, has sought reply from the State Level Scrutiny Committee for Scheduled Tribes on the action taken by the Committee regarding the comments sought by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on the case. It was on March 19, 2014 that the Meghalaya Governor through a notification constituted the State Level Scrutiny Committee for verification of SC/ST applications. Marak on Tuesday filed an RTI with the Public Information Officer, and Chairman, State Level Scrutiny Committee for Scheduled Tribes under Social Welfare Department seeking the action taken report by the Committee. Read more at: http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2015/05/06/row-over-cms-st-status/#RiQRDk06RKmCroAC.99
SHILLONG: Following the application of Right to Information Act, Hynniewtrap Youth Council (HYC) has unearthed a major scam pertaining to purchase of M-tab, which were distributed among Class XII students in 2014 under the Chief Minister’s Student Digital Learning Aid Scheme. As per the RTI documents received from the Information and Technology department, the HYC has found that there is a misuse of over Rs 6 crore in the purchase of M-tab. The RTI documents revealed that the department had spent a total amount of Rs 22, 47, 50,000 for the purchase of 25,000 M-tab (model XTRON Z704). Read more at : Page not found | The Shillong Times
akhilesh yadav posted a topic in RTI in MediaSHILLONG: RTI findings hint towards a major discrepancy in the payment of salaries to muster rolls under the Executive Engineer PWD, Shillong Central Division. As per RTI documents, the sectional assistant of the office, who is responsible for payment of salaries, has not maintained the salary register of the muster rolls properly and glaring errors have been detected in the way the names of the muster rolls were written in the register. As per the RTI documents, the names of some of the muster rolls were written in two different ways. For instance, Dhan Bahadur Pradhan was also registered as Dhon Bahadur and Puranam Chettri as Naram Chettri. Read more at: Page not found | The Shillong Times
As reported by Raju Das at assamtribune.com on February 10, 2011 SHILLONG, Feb 9 – A social organisation in Meghalaya has unearthed that wheat worth crores of rupees under the Targeted Public Distribution System has been allegedly diverted for the past several years. Under a Right To Information application the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has given information that the State has been receiving wheat from 2008. Every month the State receives its quota of 1,403 metric tonnes of wheat, but none of the fair price shops are distributing it. A kilogram of wheat costs Rs 6.10. “Where is this wheat going when the FCI has been supplying it to the State under TPDS,” Michael Syiem, who filed the RTI, said at a public hearing today. Syiem said, he has requested representatives from the Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) department and also FCI officials for the hearing. Although the FCI sent its representatives, none of the State Government officials from FCS&CA turned up. It has been alleged that the wheat is directly sent to local Chaki mills here and is grinded into Atta, Maida (flour) and other items for sale in the open market. The practice has been on for years now. FCI officials said that the State Government would be in a better position to answer where the wheat was disappearing over the years. FCS&CA Public Information Officer, P Ch Sangma claimed in response to RTI queries that wheat was being distributed in those districts of the State where there is demand. He added, since tribal people’s food habit does not constitute atta in their diet, fair price shops here don’t lift it from FCI and hence the non-availability. Syiem, moreover, pointed out that quality of rice and sugar in fair price shops was far worse than those lifted from FCI godowns. “The quality of rice supplied from FCI godowns are of ‘A’ category, however, those sold at fair price shops are not fit for human consumption,” he said showing samples of PDS items supplied by the FCI. Social organisations today said that similar complaints of poor quality rice, sugar being distributed at Fair Price shops have been reported from various parts of the State. They said that after further discussion they would decide whether to initiate a criminal case against the State Government.
karira posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported by Seema Chishti in indianexpress.com on 22 April 2008: IndianExpress.com :: Testing RTI: Govt vs activists, Pricewaterhouse vs Google Testing RTI: Govt vs activists, Pricewaterhouse vs Google Govt asks PwC to study efficacy of RTI, wary activists launch own study backed by grant from Google Foundation NEW DELHI, APRIL 21: The Department of Personnel and Training has decided to get international accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers to study the efficacy of the Right to Information (RTI) Act as it marks its third year on October 13. The RTI Act has been showcased by the UPA Government as one of its key achievements. Suspicious that this study could end up helping babus instead of citizens, leading RTI activists, including Aruna Roy and her Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and Shekhar Singh and his National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) have launched their own alternative study. They have formed RAAG (RTI Accountability and Assessment Group) which will examine what they call “the RTI regime.” Significantly, Google Foundation has stepped in to make this study possible by offering $250,000 as an initial grant. RTI activists, using foreign funds themselves, say they are not worried about money from a foreign source, but are annoyed at the way, a “foreign organization” (Pricewaterhouse) with “little or no expertise in the manner in which RTI works in India” is being asked to assess the efficacy of RTI. Said Roy, formerly a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council and among the earliest campaigners for a Right to Information law: “The process itself adopted by the government to select such an agency for such a key audit, and the record so far of the DoPT makes us wary of the study. There is little point in just opposing it all, so we are doing our own study. All the material we collect in order to draw our conclusions will be available publicly, and then let us have a debate.” Activists say they are worried the government, under pressure from bureaucrats, might use this study to cut back or restrain certain freedoms available under RTI. Says Shekhar Singh: “The government is only looking at the problems it faces because of the RTI making the bureaucracy answerable, and how they may have to amend the Act to ensure that applications are not too long, not vexatious or filed for frivolous purposes. How we look at RTI is completely different.” The survey being planned by these groups will also involve the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS which also does election surveys) and the Tata Institute for Social Service (TISS). RAAG also hopes to get assistance from the Nehru Memorial. Last week, DoPT hosted a seminar where Pricewaterhouse Coopers presented its Project Progress Report to members of the Central Information Commission and representatives from the State Information Commissions of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Maharashtra and Orissa, and some Public Information Officers from these states. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said he was consulted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers when it was finalising the project report. He says: “Their earlier proposal did have some weak points. It was too urban-centric, for instance. I have asked them to take into account the RTI’s immense impact on rural India.” Asked about the parallel study, he said: “Activists are welcome to do their own study...Why are they angry with DoPT for getting active? Earlier, it was just the CIC and the activists, with the DoPT taking a passive role, at least now they are active and are taking interest in the functioning of the Act.”
Atul Patankar posted a topic in RTI in MediaAs reported by DNA - India - Meghalaya most RTI friendly; but officials under scanner - Daily News & Analysis SHILLONG: Despite being considered the most RTI friendly state, failure of some RTI officials in providing accurate information to the public has irked Meghalaya state information commission (MSIC) that has proposed incorporation of specific items in the confidential record of each official. "It is absolutely important that the assessment of performances of the officers involved in RTI activities should also find a reflection on the confidential reports of the officers concerned," MSIC said in a report to the state government. Decisions on all departmental proceedings against officers recommended by the commission should be entered into the service books and records of the officers concerned, it said. According to MSIC, there were 39 complaints available with it in 2007. Of them 33 per cent were refusals or deemed refusals by public information officers to access the information required, while 31 per cent were related to failure of the PIOs to respond within the prescribed period of 90 days. MSIC also received 15 complaints this year, the report said and stressed that there was no involvement of the state government with educational programmes and awareness campaigns of the RTI Act. A total of 492 requests of the 537 were disposed off by PIOs, accounting for 91 per cent of the disposal rate in 2007. Community and Rural Development department recorded the highest disposal rate with 130 cases in 2007. The penalty during 2007 amounted to Rs 24,250, it said.
Trapped in corruption, state bats for RTI Act As Reported by Tilak Rai, Indian Express, July 14, 2008 The newly appointed Governor, Ranjit Shekar Mooshahary, has one major worry: how to curtail corruption in the state. The Governor believes that the Right to Information (RTI) can act “as a tool to fight corruption”. This comes as no surprise as after retiring from the Indian Police Service, Mooshahary worked as the Chief Information Commissioner of Assam and led the RTI movement from the front there. Though the Raj Bhavan has its own limitations in waging a war against corruption, Mooshahary can surely influence and inspire people to effectively use the RTI as a weapon to uncover corruption and punish the guilty. Meghalaya has not really used the RTI widely. However, the state saw a flurry of accusations of corruption against most the sitting MLAs, based on RTI reports, just before the March 3 Assembly polls. Some of the legislators against whom accusation of misutilisation of MLA schemes was made, based on the RTI reports, did lose the election, but many others sailed through. Thus, it is debatable whether it was the RTI revelation or anti-incumbency factor that led to the defeat of the legislators. In fact, none of the NGOs, who usually make noises about corruption prevailing in the state, has filed an RTI to unearth corruption. The minimal use of RTI Act does not, however, suggest that corruption in Meghalaya is also minimal. In fact, the India Corruption Study 2007 says that corruption in Meghalaya is “alarming”. Mooshahary had described the Northeast, including Meghalaya, as “trapped in a whirlpool of corruption” after the report was released. In 2003, E K Mawlong-led coalition government collapsed when its alliance partner, the NCP, pulled out after NGOs — under the banner of People’s Rally Against Corruption — accused the state Government of selling out the Kolkata Meghalaya House deal to Asian Housing Construction Limited. This was the only agitation against corruption that led to the ouster of a government in the state. Also, take the case of six power projects that have been awarded to private companies by the previous Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government. Several NGOs, political parties such as the NCP, United Democratic Party and others, which now form the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) coalition government, had dubbed the agreement between the MDA government and the six private companies as a “total sell out” and demanded that the deal be scrapped. The onus of scrapping the deal falls on the parties that had demanded it, as these political parties are now in power. After all, the NCP and its allies had fought the election on the plank of corruption in governance. IndianExpress.com :: Trapped in corruption, state bats for RTI Act