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  1. According to the 2011 Census Orissa is home to 2,63,799 visually impaired people. Many of these are students, who face difficulty owing to lack of study materials, especially made for them. It is increasingly becoming difficult for the blind students to get Braille books in the market. The Centre in the 2014 Union budget had announced that 15 new Braille presses would be put up and old presses would be modernised. However, despite the Central government’s plan to establish 15 new Braille presses across the country, Orissa is not going to get any new Braille press from the Union government as not even a single application from Orissa has been received by it, an RTI filed with the Central government by this correspondent has revealed. According to the RTI reply from the ministry of social justice and empowerment, the ministry in November 2014 had issued an advertisement asking all states to give proposals to set up new Braille presses in their states. The RTI reply also stated that not even a single application was submitted by any organisation or individual from Orissa, for establishing a new Braille press. Later, the department decided to establish new Braille presses in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh, on the basis of proposals submitted by organisations or individuals of these states. - See more at: No new Braille press in sight, blind students of Orissa languish | HERE. NOW | OrissaPost
  2. Six months before his tenure was to end, Orissa Chief Information Commissioner Tarun Kanti Mishra has resigned from the post citing “personal reasons”. However, government sources said Mishra had been under pressure following allegations over the past year by civil society activists that he had amassed land from government agencies through false affidavits. Mishra, a 1975-batch IAS officer, was appointed as CIC in November 2010, three months after retiring as state chief secretary. His tenure as CIC would have come to an end on August 1 this year. Sources said Pramod Mohanty, now information commissioner, would preside as CIC till a full-time CIC is appointed. Read at: https://in.newshub.org/orissa-cic-resigns-cites-personal-reasons-11599066.html
  3. orissa govt provides FORM-A for applying rti. in this form it asks- d) Whether information is to be sent by post or received in person.? (The actual postal charges shall be included in providing information) e) In case by post (ordinary or registered or speed) so my question is when to pay the postal fee for speed post or anything else ? during the submission of application ? or later? [[[ if at the time of submission of application ]]] - as I wana send my application by post . the fee for rti is rs 10. so how much do I have to pay for postal ? how to calculate? rs10 + ????
  4. As reported by Debabrata Mohanty at indianexpress.com on Jul 30, 2010 BHUBANESWAR : The Orissa government has tapped phones of 417 persons between November 2006 and December 2008, the state home department has said in its reply to an RTI petition. In a reply to RTI petitioner Biswapriya Kanungo, the state home department said in 2008 alone, tappings of 303 persons were done. The previous year, 111 tappings were conducted while in November and December 2006, telephones of 3 people were tapped. Incidentally, most of the tappings happened in the year when bloody riots in Kandhamal happened after the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and BJP was mulling to withdraw support from the BJD government led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Kanungo in his RTI petition on December 29, 2008 had asked about the number of persons whose telephones were tapped between January 2000 and Dec 28, 2008. There were no telephone tappings between 2000 and 2005. The reply from home department did not give any month-wise break-ups of the tappings. It also did not make it clear whether cellphones or landline connections were tapped. However, the department said all such tappings were approved by a review committee headed by Chief Secretary. Though a Supreme Court order said all telephone tappings have to be approved within seven days of its happening, the home department said approvals were given as and when the committee met. The department in its reply said only Principal Secretary can order telephone tapping on ground of soveriegnity and integrity of India, security of state, friendly relations with foreign state, telephone incitement and maintenance of public order.
  5. As reported by Debabrata Mohanty in indiaexpress.com on 16 April 2010: RTI activists up in arms agaainst state govt in Orissa RTI activists up in arms agaainst state govt in Orissa RTI activists in Orissa are up in arms against the state government appointing yet another babu as a commissioner in the State Information Commission. With a panel comprising chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh and industry minister Raghunath Mohanty appointing Pramod Kumar Mohanty, now special secretary in CM's office, as the next information commissioner, activists are now asking the government to clarify how it zeroes in on persons while making such appointments. Despite having a forgettable tenure in CM's office, the faceless bureaucrat would now get to work as information commissioner in the State Information Commission for next 5 years with a monthly remuneration of Rs 1.1 lakh with a status equalling that of chief secretary, said RTI activist Pradip Pradhan. Mohanty, who would assume charge soon after he retired from government service on April 30, would serve as commissioner for next 5 years. The Orissa Information Commission can have 10 commissioners and 1 chief information commissioner. With the appointment of Mohanty, there would still be vacancy of 8 commissioner posts. Pradhan said the State Information Commission with a dismal record in delivering justice to the RTI petitioners across the State needs an effective and dynamic commissioner. With 5000 second appeals and complaint cases piled up before the 2-member commission headed by chief information commissioner Dhirendra Nath Padhi, activists like Pradhan alleged that the body is becoming a lumbering behemoth. "We have seen that the former IAS officers are no good in implementing the RTI Act. The current commissioners show no urgency as they can dispose of only 30-35 cases a month where as central information commissioners like Shailesh Gandhi disposes 265 cases in the same period. Any case takes about 10-12 hearing forcing petitioners to run to Bhubaneswar. The commissioners have largely been irrelevant. If the commission continue to dispose at this rate, then they would take another 20 years to finish all the cases,” alleged Pradhan. RTI activist Chitta Behera said that as per sections 12(5) and 15(5) of the RTI Act, the information commissioners shall be recruited from among the persons of "eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science, technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media, administration and governance". Behera alleged that the state government all along has been appointing either government servants on the verge of retirement or people who are loyal to the ruling dispensation. Citing an example, Behera said in 2005 IAS officer DN Padhi took voluntary retirement 18 months before his superannuation to become the chief information commissioner in Orissa Information Commission. He would continue to be the head of a largely-ineffective OIC till November this year while enjoying the rank and salary of chief election commissioner. Pradhan said the whole process of appointment was being done in a clandestine manner which defeats the whole purpose of the Act. "Why only the government tends to favour bureaucrats for the post of information commissioners? Are they the only eminent people left in Orissa? Can't the government appoint commissioners after due consultations with civil society members and intellectuals of Orissa," asked Sudhir Patnaik, an eminent social activist and journalist of Orissa. President of Orissa chapter of Transparency International, Bimalendu Mohanty also questioned the surreptious manner in which the nomination was done. "By using his brute majority in the State Assembly, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has ensured that no once can question his decisions," he said. Rabi Das, a long-time bureaucracy watcher and senior journalist, said: “All these commissions and committees are all good rehabilitation grounds for retired bureaucrats. Why can't they nominate an eminent journalist to the commission?" Jatish Chandra Mohanty, a former Oriya IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre and now president of political party Sammruddha Odisha, said the re-entry of IAS back to government should be banned. “It is inappropriate after one has served the government for a long time."
  6. As reported by Debabrata Mohanty at indianexpress.com on Nov 14, 2009 Bhubaneswar : While Orissa vigilance sleuths and mines department officials are scratching their heads trying to find out the extent and dimensions of the mining scam, official documents reveal that the magnitude of the scam could be anything over Rs 14000 crore. The Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court headed by former bureaucrat PV Jayakrishnan would soon start investigating the violation of forest laws following a petition by Orissa-based journalist Rabi Das. However, CEC chairman Jayakrishnan said the panel has not got the formal notification of the probe order as yet. "We will decide about the modalities of the probe and the dates after we see the notification," he told The Indian Express. But the fact is that the scam goes beyond violation of forest laws only. Evidence available with The Indian Express shows the real scam was mining in excess of the limits set by the authorities. This violated the existing environmental laws. Documents brought under the RTI Act showed that over last 6-7 years more than dozen leading mining and steel companies dug out excessive quantities of iron, chromite and manganese ores in wanton disregard of existing laws and limits. It’s no secret they could do it due to lax supervision of officials of the Orissa Pollution Control Board, Indian Bureau of Mines, state mines department, forest department, district collector and Ministry of Environment and Forests. Any mining company before digging up even a handful of earth in the ore-rich areas has to obtain a Consent to Operate (CTO) certificate from the Orissa Pollution Control Board which stipulates the amount of ore that can be mined in a year. The limit is specified with an eye on collateral environmental damage that mining brings as the waste and overburden (the earth that needs to be excavated for extracting the ore) is normally 3-5 times of the actual mineral. When environmental clearance is granted to any mine, the maximum amount of ore which can be mined per year is specified. The quantity of ore that is to be extracted every year is specified in the mining plan which is approved by the IBM. Accordingly, when the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study is carried out the likely impacts on the local environment are assessed based on the quantity of ore to be extracted every year. Documents obtained from the Orissa Pollution Control Board and interviews with officials in the State mining department show that the biggest violator could be Aditya Birla Group-owned Essel Mining and Industries Limited. Between 2001-02 and 2005-06, the company mined 206 lakh tonnes of iron ore in excess of its permitted limit of 25.86 lakh tonnes in just 2 mines(Kasia and Jiling-Longalata) of Keonjhar district. By conservative estimates, the total amount of the excess iron ore mined was Rs 4269 crores. Essel Mining seemed to care two hoots about possible closure of the mines for violation of the OPCB norms. Though a closure notice was issued by the OPCB’s regional office in Keonjhar district on January 24, 2006 for violating the conditions and running two screening plants inside the forest area without mandatory environmental clearance, it did not shut shop. The OPCB also did not press further and did not close the mines. Ardhendu Mohapatra, the chief residential manager of Essel Mining in Orissa said he was not authorized to comment but added that the company had all the statutory clearances in places. “We have not violated any laws,” he said. Another major player, SR Rungta Group similarly mined iron ore and manganese in excess of the limit they were allowed by the OPCB. By conservative estimates, the total amount of the excess iron ore mined by the group companies between 2003 and 2006 in 6 of its mines was Rs 2978 crores. Like Essel Mining, Rungta Mines was also not shut in spite of OPCB norm violations. On Dec 18, 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Forests informed the Orissa government about illegal/excessive extraction of iron ore in 6 mines of Rungtas. A designated committee of the OPCB had also found that excess mining was going on and had ordered closure of at least two mines on March 1, 2007. But the OPCB Chairman at Bhubaneswar did not issue the closure order. None of the officials of Rungta were available for comment. Similarly, documents revealed that the Thakurani B mines owned by SL Sarda and ML Sarda in Keonjhar with a controlling interest by Jindal Steel and Power Limited mined iron ores in excess of the specified limit worth Rs 1850 crore. Evidence shows that Tata Steel, which has chromite and iron ore mines in Sukinda(Jajpur district) and Joda East (Keonjhar) respectively mined ores worth Rs 1200 crore between 2004-05 and 2007-08. Even the IMFA group promoted by BJD MP Jay Panda, mined excess chromite ore worth Rs 50 crore in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Officials of Tata Steel and IMFA denied that the companies had violated any provisions of mining and environmental laws. It appears that even the government companies are no holy saints since Orissa Mining Corporation was found to have mined 9.63 lakh tonnes of excess chromite from its South Kaliapani mines in Jajpur district. During the period between 2004 and 2008, the market value of the excess ore is estimated at Rs 105 crore. Incredibly OPCB suddenly raised the limits of ore production of the companies in a subsequent year even though the company had violated the consent to operate conditions in the past. No penal action was taken against them. It also appears that OPCB officials never applied their mind to assess the disastrous effects on the local environment by allowing companies to increase their production by 10-20 times from the previous levels. Orissa steel and mines secretary Ashok Dalwai said he was not aware if excess mining has taken place in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts. “It has not been proved as yet whether excess mining took place. But we have to verify case by case and see if the companies had got their mining plans modified by the Indian Bureau of Mines. But we are looking into more important facts of the case,” said Dalwai. This is surprising since the field inspection reports of the Pollution Control Board clearly pointed out the huge scam which was going on right under every body’s nose. Clearly the Mining Department and the Pollution Control Board did not exchange information. LN Patnaik, who headed the Orissa Pollution Control Board between 2004 and 2008 (when some of the excess mining happened) said he does not remember what happened during those period. “It (excess mining) may be possible, but under what circumstances it happened I can’t say,” he said. Meanwhile the director of Orissa vigilance, Anup Patnaik said the agency would take several months before it can file a chargesheet. “We are still assessing the magnitude of the scam. So far we have lodged 3 cases and may lodge more in the coming days. We will not spare anybody whosoever is involved in the scam,” said Patnaik. Source: Orissa mine scam could be worth more than Rs 14k cr
  7. SC stays HC order bringing private power distributing companies under RTI Act as reported by Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, 16 January 2010 NEW DELHI: In the midst of a raging debate as to whether there should be boundary limiting the right to information law, the Supreme Court on Friday came across an interesting question - should the RTI Act be extended to private power distribution companies which have taken over work from PSUs? The Supreme Court stayed a Orissa High Court order, which had upheld a Naveen Patnaik government order of the year 2006 bringing Reliance Power-owned power distribution companies - Southern Electricity Supply Company of Orissa Ltd (SOUTHCO), WESCO and NESCO - under the purview of the RTI Act. A Bench comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar and M K Sharma stayed the HC order of December 9 last year after hearing advocate Suresh Tripathy, who appeared for the Reliance-owned companies. Tripathy argued that the RTI Act was applicable only to "public authority" the meaning of which was erroneously expanded by the government and agreed to by the HC to include the power distribution companies under the RTI Act. He said the Reliance companies had challenged the December 2005 decision of the Naveen Patnaik government to include the power distribution companies under the purview of the RTI Act. But, the HC dismissed the petitions without appreciating the fact that the private companies could not have been put on the same plank as a "public authority". SOUTHCO in its petition stated that the HC failed to appreciate the fact that the power distribution companies do not receive any funds from the government nor were they under state control. Expressing surprise at the HC's finding that the state government had "all pervasive control over the power distribution companies", the petitioner said it was a fact that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has discontinued the audit of the accounts of the petitioner as it was not substantially financed by the government. SC stays HC order bringing private power distributing companies under RTI Act - India - The Times of India
  8. Orissa RTI Group to Award RTI Crusaders 'Suchana Shree' is the State Level Award for the RTI crusaders of Orissa for recognizing effective RTI practices having sound development impact on lives of communities and citizens at grass root level. With the emergence of corruption as the greatest public enemy, the relevance of the Right to Information Act has become all the more relevant in a region like Orissa. So the citizens who have used RTI & shown innovation should be recognized. We have intended for rejuvenate and energize these activists by recognizing their work and to spread their glorious works among the masses of the State & Country. You are requested to nominate the names of your known RTI Activists who deserve for this award with all the related information. All the nominations should be reached here on or before 30th Sept 2008. Before nomination please follow the rules & regulations, attached herewith. With Regards... N.A.Shah Ansari Young India At/Po- Konark, Dt- Puri, Orissa,INDIA.752111 -------------------------------------------------------------- This message first appeared in HumJanenge Newsgroup.
  9. debnanda

    Hallo to allactive members RTI India

    Hallo ! I hope We will be able to come closer through this.
  10. Atul Patankar

    Govt yet to allay fears, clear doubts

    As reported at www.expressbuzz.com on 02 June 2009 BHUBANESWAR: Organ transplantation has become common in many regions of the country and in Orissa, of late, kidney transplantation is gradually gaining popularity. But there is a legal hitch. There is no procedure to declare ‘brain stem death’ (BSD), generating apprehension among doctors here whether transplantation is legal or not. But the law is clear. The Sub-Section (6) of Section (3) Chapter of the Transplantation of Human Orhans Act (THOA), 1994, confers power on the authorised medical centres to practise organ transplantation and as the THOA has been accepted by Orissa in toto, it is obvious that the brain stem death is legal. By clearing doubts of the medical fraternity, the Government would not only help them go for more transplantations, but also can facilitate the possibility of furthering the work towards cadaveric transplantation in Orissa (harvesting vital organs from a dead patient), by devising the necessary procedure as laid down in the THOA. West Bengal on October 31, 2006 notified in ‘The Kolkata Gazette’ on constitution of a panel of specialist doctors attached to government and private medical institutions for implementation of the Sub-section (6) of Section (3) of the THOA. The notification said the panel will include five experts i.e. medical superintendent where the death will occur, registered medical practitioner under whom the patient is admitted or under whose treatment BSD occurs, forensic medicine expert from a government list, neurologist and a specialist doctor of the specific field of the disease. However, it added that at least two of the five members must be from government institutions. If the Health Department follows the document it can help patients in Orissa where only ‘related-donors’ are accepted and avoids man-made delays causing frustration. With a proper mechanism to allow BSD by an expert panel can definitely help patients. However, in spite of an RTI application by a city-based organisation on October 10, 2008, on the state of affairs, the Health Department accepted the same as ‘information only’ and had not worked on it so far. The new government is expected to take immediate steps so that more people can benefit from the Act. Source: Govt yet to allay fears, clear doubts=
  11. Atul Patankar

    Work hazard for children

    As reported at www.telegraphindia.com on 25 May 2009 Cuttack, May 24: At least 1.48 lakh children across Orissa still wipe floors as domestic helps, serve at roadside eateries and highway dhabas, while others are trapped in hazardous occupations. Two-and-a-half years after the government banned hiring of children as domestic helps or employing them in restaurants and eateries, the law remains “more or less as paper”. “In the past 30 months, a mockery seems to have been made out of the law. While lakhs of children still work in the banned professions, engaging child labour in hazardous sectors has become a habit,” said Bikash Das, the chairman of Liberated Childhood Movement, a legal advocacy group working against child labour in the state. Official records assessed under the RTI by the group revealed that 160,462 children were identified across 20 districts as child labourers under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986. In all, 351 prosecutions were launched against offending employers, but not a single conviction had taken place during the past two-and-a-half years, it was revealed. In case of Bargarh, only 2,082 child labourers could be identified, while 37,918 of them were found in Rayagada and just 11 in Balasore, according to records. Of the 3,079 child labourers detected in Angul 2,777 were found in the hazardous sector. The cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar were categorised as zero child labour areas. Terming the findings “appalling”, he claimed that there were far more children working as domestic helps in restaurants and dhabas across the state. “There is a lack of political will and preparedness on the part of the government to implement the law. Efforts need to be directed to change the prevailing attitude of breaking laws,” Das said. Even though the government has taken initiatives like establishing 259 National Child Labour Project schools in 20 districts, only 11,498 were rescued and rehabilitated. On their part, state labour department officials admitted that there had been acquittals in most of the 351 prosecutions initiated and over 80 were pending before different courts. “Legal matters take time and conviction is the court’s prerogative,” a senior labour department official said on condition of anonymity. Source: The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Work hazard for children
  12. karira

    Delay, cost bane in State

    As reported by expressbuzz.com on 04 May 2009: Delay, cost bane in State Delay, cost bane in State BHUBANESWAR: In its four years of existence, the Right to Information Act has taken significant strides in creating an empowered and active citizenry. It has also been successful in effecting a major shift from the culture of secrecy to a culture of transparency as instruments of Governance are beginning to be aware of the accountability to the State and the people. The result has been a noticeable improvement in programme efficiency at various levels. Yet, despite the positive outcome of the RTI revolution in promoting transparency and accountability in working of public authority, a lot more is required to facilitate the common man accessing and securing information easily in Orissa. This was discussed in a workshop on RTI, organised by Citizens’ Apex Association (CAA) here today. CAA convenor NK Panda said that the common man has been facing a lot of hardhsips on several counts - right from locating the RTI centres in various offices to the steep costs to delay in disposal of their applications. The centres should be at the reception counter or near the gate of the office for easy access. While the Central Government does not require identity proof, the State Government offices are making it mandatory for applicants. With many offices insisting only on treasury challans as fees, which is time consuming and cumbersome, the applicants are facing a whole lot of problems. High costs of acquiring information imposed by various State departments are also taking a toll on the common man. The Government of India has fixed duplication cost at Rs 2 per page but in Orissa there are instances of arbitrary imposition of costs, which have gone up to as high as Rs 3 lakh, Panda said. He also raised concern over the delay in disposal of the applications. Though the Act prescribes 30 days, the time frame is not complied with. It is also a difficult proposition for the applicant to appear in person for all hearings and costly too. The Commission should pass the order keeping in view the merit of the application. State Information Commissioner Jagadananda, who presided over the workshop, said that the Act had made time-bound provision for responses with accountability clearly defined and it should be complied with.
  13. As reported by N A Shah Ansari at www.expressbuzz.com on January 29, 2009 KONARK: Queries under Right to Information (RTI) Act have unearthed a scam in Maghamela - a festival which is observed by lakhs in the Oriya month of Magha at Chandrabhaga beach near Sun Temple at Konark here every year. This year Maghamela will be observed on February 2. Reports said Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare through the sub-collector, Puri, has been supplying kerosene to pilgrims during Maghamela. The decision to supply kerosene was taken as there were no lighting facilities in the area and kerosene lamps were used by the devotees. However, after long years of electrification of the area, the government has not amended the decision and is still supplying kerosene. In short, the Government is spending lakhs of rupees for a purpose which is no more desirable. The continuation of the scheme is not only an unnecessary burden on the State exchequer but also breeding corruption. In previous years, the kerosene supplied is found to be grossly misappropriated by some vested interests. Last year the department had also supplied kerosene through retailers who were directed to open temporary fare price shops at different places in and around Chandrabhaga. The retailers were directed to sell 500 ml of kerosene per head and maintain accounts properly. But queries by a local activist under RTI Act revealed that the kerosene supplied was not provided to people instead it was misappropriated by the retailers. Copies of the distribution register exposed forged signatures and thumb impressions of the beneficiaries. In response to a complaint, Raj Kishore Mishra, State Advisor to the Commissioners of Supreme Court, had written to Raj Kumar Sharma, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, for investigation and necessary action on April 16 last year. But no action has not been taken yet. Also, during public hearing by Justice D.P.Wadhwa in Bhubaneswar on November 16 last year the matter was placed and Sharma had assured then to take proper action within 24 hours. However, more than two months have passed, but no action is yet to be taken. Apart from that complaints regarding drinking water supply, sanitation facility, distribution of PDS materials, exorbitant bus fare, unhygienic beach and holy pond are regularly received each year. Source : Maghamela: RTI reveals huge kerosene scam=
  14. State Level Convention On Implementation of RTI Act in Orissa -Issues and Concerns* Venue- Red Cross Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, Date- 10th and 11th December'08 Dear friends As you know, as elsewhere more than three years have elapsed since implementation of RTI Act in our state. To operationalise the Act, the State Govt. took a number of steps like framing Orissa RTI Rules and Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, designating of PIOs and APIOs in the offices of various Public Authorities, constitution of State Information Commission, and issue of Operational Guidelines for implementation of the Act in the state. Besides the State Information Commission has already completed 3 years of its functioning with effect from its inception on 20th November 2005. During the last 3 years of implementation of RTI Act in the state, the common citizens and as well activists have experienced very many vexatious problems while trying to use the Act to access information and thereby improve the system of governance. Specifically speaking, a large cross section of citizens have already been fed up with messy and poor state of administrative arrangements, which stand as a formidable obstacle to the effective implementation of the Act in the state. As is well known, the major problems that discourage the citizens from using the Act are the compulsory use of a lengthy application form along with the need for attaching a copy of the voter's card or passport, citizen-unfriendly modes of payment such as treasury challan and court fee stamps, haphazard implementation of suo moto disclosures under Section 4 of the Act, non-availability of register in any office for the inspecting citizens under Section 4, Commission's persistent refusal to entertain citizens' complaints made under Section 18 Neither the Government nor the Commission have ever in course of their awareness programmes educated the public about their duty to lodge any complaint against the Commissioners and the power of the Governor under Section 17 of the Act to suspend or dismiss such Commissioner from their office based upon such complaint. As a result of all this the historic RTI Act is in the process of a slow demise in the State of Orissa. In the context of the highly dismal scenario of RTI in Orissa as above mentioned, a state level convention is being organized to debate and discuss the host of tangled issues relating to tardy implementation of the Act in the State and devise a collective action plan to remedy them. RTI Activists, NGO functionaries, Journalists, advocates, scholars, senior citizens, academicians, representatives of INGOs and aggrieved and interested citizens are being invited to participate and deliberate in the convention. We invite you to step in and share your ideas and suggestions with the participants. A line in reply shall be highly appreciated. Thanking you Yours sincerely Contact Person- Pradeep Pradhan, M-99378-four three four eight two * AS appeared in State Convention on RTI - OREGS Watch | Google Groups
  15. As reported by Satyasundar Barik in thehindu.net on 22 November 2008: The Hindu : Other States / Orissa News : Confusion over publication of panjikas Confusion over publication of panjikas BHUBANESWAR: How are government holidays marking festivals of Hindu community fixed in the State ? No department in the State government has the satisfactory answer. An inquisitiveness to know the basis of deciding the date of holidays relating to different festivals and social occasions has led a Hindu priest to nowhere. Santosh Kumar Dash, the priest, had knocked doors of different departments with Right To Information applications. But every department failed to give him a satisfactory answer. People in the State basically follow different panjikas (Ephemeris) to know the day of their festivals. However, many occasions come when one festival falls on two different dates. There lies the problem and it leads to confusion. Mr. Dash’s question was simple as to which Panjika is followed by the State government. First, the priest went to Law Department that expressed its inability to provide the information. Law Department had earlier forwarded the RTI application to the Tourism and Culture Department that encashes State’s tourism potential by highlighting different festivals and customs. The Culture Department also had no idea on the subject. Subsequently, Mr. Dash asked the same question to Commissioner of Endowment that regulates as many as 16,277 temples of the State. To the query, the commission said, “although we manage temples and mutts of the State, we don’t know which panjika is being followed in those institutions.” Finally, Jagannath Temple Administration, which is in charge of affairs of temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri, came out of with an answer. “The rituals associated with festivals of Lord Jagannath are fixed by two Panjika such as Kohenoor and Radharaman Press. If any discrepancy crops up a committee sits and sorts out the date,” it said. Revenue and Disaster Management Department, however, listed out five panjikas, on the basis of which holidays were declared. It, however, did not satisfy the information seeker. “When panjikas have already given two different dates for a single festival before, the reply of following five ephemeris has added to the confusion only,” he said. Why is so much of emphasis on Panjikas? In an attempt to clear all doubts, the Union Government had once come out with a National Ephemeris (Rastriya Panchang). It was published by New Delhi-based the Director General of Meteorology. “Thousands of marriages are fixed on auspicious dates and times given by these panjikas As they differ on many occasions, it has led to social tensions such as interruption in marriages and other social events,” Mr. Dash said. He charged that many publishers had used names and photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and other senior leaders to add credibility to their astrology and astronomy. These panjikas had even gone to the extent of forecasting cyclones and floods, Mr. Dash pointed out.
  16. sidmis

    RTI to the aid of SHGs

    RTI to the aid of SHGs BHUBANESWAR, Nov. 20: A three day long convention of SHGs and farmers’ organisation was jointly held by the Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) and Swayamshri Micro Credit Society (SMCS) at Rajabati in Chowduar recently. The theme of the convention was ‘Financial literacy and access to livelihood’. About 2,500 SHG members and farmers from 200 SHGs participated in the convention. Expert from financial and banking sectors were also present at the meeting. Regional director of RBI, Mr Kaza Sudhakar, inaugurated the convention and informed the participants about loan process in banks and about the special provisions available in banks for rural people. Addressing the gathering state information commissioner and chief speaker Mr Jagadananda advised the participants to make use of the Right to Information Act whenever they feel deprived of their rights. He also urged women participants to take an increasing role in SHGs. During the convention the participants were also informed about the different insurance schemes available and the methods to avail them. The CGM of State Bank of India, Mr M N Rae, and of Nabard Mr CR Patnaik along with Mr Kripal Singh of Sidbi, Prof. Anup Das of Utkal University and the head of Choudwar project of CYSD, Ms Kalpana Mohapatra, were also present at the meeting. The Statesman
  17. Muslim woman exposes temple fraud as reported in DNA, PTI November 17, 2008 NEW DELHI: A Muslim woman has brought out alleged misappropriation of Rs1.3 crore in a temple fund using the right to information (RTI) Act, resulting in the suspension of an official and initiation of a probe by state police. Nargis Bahar, 42, an RTI activist at Kakatpur village, was approached by locals with complaints of alleged corrupt practices by an official of the Maa Mangala temple. “They had mismanaged and misappropriated trust properties and temple money,” Bahar said. The temple in Puri district attracts lakhs of devotees from all over the world. Situated 50 km from the temple city of Puri, it is visited by the priests of the Jagannath temple during the Navakalebara festival. The audit report received in reply to Bahar’s RTI application revealed that about Rs1.3 crore were not accounted for by the temple officials. DNA - India - Muslim woman exposes temple fraud - Daily News & Analysis Incidentally Ms Nargis received 'Soochana Shree' award at Konark recently. http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/8093-orissa-state-level-convention-oct-12-2008-a.html
  18. As reported in thehindu.com on 16 November 2008: The Hindu : Other States / Orissa News : No property statements of officials on websites No property statements of officials on websites State Information Commission’s order not followed BHUBANESWAR: Orissa government has failed to make public property statements being reportedly submitted by government officers on the website despite a direction to do so. Responding to an appeal under the Right to Information Act, first appellate authority in General Administration department Ganesh Prasad Parida asked its public information officer (PIO) to take steps to post details of the property statement the departmental website within 10 days. The first appellate authority had passed the order on October 31, 2008. But after 15 days the website continued to remain un-updated. All started with the seeking of information by rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo about property statements which were to be supposedly submitted by officers under GA department according to Orissa Government Servant Conduct Rule 1959. PIO of GA department had then asked the information seeker to refer to departmental website. Mr. Kanungo said he searched the property statements of officers in vain as website was not updated. Despite the prodding up for update, the GA Department website says, "this site is under construction and the data is made available on an experimental basis to all users. The data in the system is available only from 1998-99 onwards. While all efforts have been made to make this database as authentic as possible, General Administration Department will not be responsible for any loss to any person caused by any shortcoming, defect or inaccuracy in the information available on website." The rights activist is now planning to move to State Information Commission as he has been denied the information. This was not for the first time when government departments had come up with “strange” replies in response to information on property statements. “The supply department had earlier told me that there was no gazetted officer in the department in its attempt to deny the information. But when I pursued the matter in higher-level, they came up with an answer that they had 137 gazetted officers,” Mr. Kanungo said. He alleged that the health and family welfare department also made similar attempt. “When I asked for status of property statement of doctors, the department said doctors’ community comes under exempted category as per RTI Act,” Mr. Kanungo charged. Earlier Revenue and Disaster Management (RDM) department said it had no information about punitive actions initiated against officers who violated Orissa Government Servant Conduct Rule 1959 by not submitting compulsory property statements. Moreover, police officers are also not submitting property statements.
  19. Right to information: Orissa activist keeps hitting brick wall as reported by Thai Indian News, November 15th, 2008 ICT by IANS Bhubaneswar, Nov 15 (IANS) A social activist in Orissa has complained he has failed to get information from government organisations in response to most of the applications he has been filing under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.The 2005 act empowers citizens to demand information on the working of the government. But Biswajit Mohanty, who claimed to have filed about 450 RTI applications in the past three years, said Friday that he has received a response to only about 60. “Of the total applications I had filed, I have got information only for 60 applications,” said Mohanty, who usually seeks information from the Forest and Environment Department. “While in 40-50 cases, wrongdoings of the officials concerned have come to the fore, in five cases I have got evidence of corruption against the officials. “But hundreds of other applications are gathering dust. The Public Information Officers (PIOs) are harassing applicants time and again so that they won’t seek further information,” Mohanty claimed. Supreme Court judges have no hesitation in handing over their tour details to RTI applicants. But Mohanty, who works as a chartered accountant, alleged he has been struggling to get similar information from a central government undertaking. “I filed an RTI application in June this year seeking information from Paradip Port Trust (PPT) on T.A. (travel allowance) bills, leave applications and the official tour diaries of its chairman. “The port authority denied the information on the ground that it would affect the competitive position and commercial confidentiality of the organisation since his official tour is meant to improve the trade interests of the port,” Mohanty said. “The disclosure of place of stay during leave period may endanger the life and physical safety of the chairman PPT,” the first appellate authority of the port said after Mohanty appealed against the refusal. The appellate authority is the same official whose tour details had been sought. Tour diaries are not the only class of documents the PPT considers beyond the purview of the RTI Act. The administrative department of PPT has listed items like property returns of employees, note sheets of the files containing observations of employees and officers, staff selection committee and departmental promotion committee proceedings as classified/confidential documents which can be denied to any applicant. Answer sheets of the candidates appearing for the written test in connection with selection to different posts of PPT are also prohibited, though Indian Administrative Service examination answer sheets are bound to be disclosed as per orders of the Central Information Commission. Mohanty wondered how the PPT could deny such information when property returns of ministers and even the President can be obtained by any citizen of India. Orissa ranks fourth in the country in terms of filing applications under the RTI Act. “While some say they are struggling for information, awareness about the act is very encouraging,” Malay Nayak, news editor of the Oriya daily The Samaya, told IANS. “We need more awareness in both the government and public levels for successful implementation of the act,” Orissa’s information Commissioner Jagadananda told IANS. Right to information: Orissa activist keeps hitting brick wall
  20. Playing with fire in Orissa's farmland as reported by Latha Jishnu / New Delhi November 13, 2008, Business Standard The unchecked spread of illegal Bt cotton cultivation is a serious threat to the state’s agriculture, warns Latha Jishnu Orissa’s farmlands have become the battleground for several conflicting interests. There is the familiar battle over what should be grown — traditional food grains versus the more rewarding cash crops — but the more insidious battle is being waged over how the crops should be grown and what technology should be used. Cotton is the focus of this largely covert operation to wean farmers on a genetically modified (GM) regimen in a state which maintains that it intends to remain GM-free. Over the past five years there have been significant shifts in the agricultural landscape of Orissa which has taken rather enthusiastically to cotton cultivation. From less than 30,000 hectares in 2002-03, the area under cotton has expanded to over 63,000 hectares in 2007-2008. By the end of the 11th Plan, the state intends to double this figure, according to a paper prepared by the department of agriculture. But the extraordinary aspect of Orissa’s growing appetite for cotton is that almost the entire crop is being grown under contract, either for mills, traders or in small measure for research institutes. Farm experts say this is an unusual phenomenon. The figures revealed by the department are eye-popping. In response to a right to information (RTI) petition filed by a voluntary organisation, it disclosed that 58,255 farmers were contracted by 15 companies to grow cotton on 60,371 hectares during 2007-08. That’s a cool 95 per cent of the total area under cotton but a chunk of this is devoted to growing organic cotton which is turning into a money-spinner. The concern, and a serious worry, is that a substantial number of the farmers are using illegal GM seeds to cultivate cotton. The seeds, according to sources in Orissa, are supplied either by the contracting company or bought by the farmers themselves. Officials have turned a blind eye to this by claiming they are helpless in the matter although there have been reports of several seizures of GM seeds by the police. Little is being done to check this proliferation or to warn farmers about the hazards of Bt cotton. Field visits by agriculture experts have shown that farmers have not been instructed in biosafety protocols and have completely ignored the mandatory regulations. The irony is that Orissa has been proclaiming rather loudly that it is against GM crops. Not only has the agriculture minister stated on the floor of the assembly that he would not allow GM crops into the state but the chief minister himself has issued a memo that GM crops should be discouraged in the state. To make its stand very clear, the directorate of agriculture and food production issued a notice in August this year declaring that the cultivation of Bt cotton was illegal. All of this begs the question why no punitive action is being taken against the companies and farmers who are contravening the law. In parts of Bolangir district, a major hotspot for cultivation of GM cotton, the authorities say they have conducted raids but were unsuccessful in unearthing illegal seeds. Talking to this newspaper, U P Singh, agriculture commissioner and secretary to the Orissa government, sidestepped the issue by saying it was “mostly under contract farming”. Orissa’s policy, he insists, is to disallow GM crops because of the environmental and health hazards they pose. There was no case for adopting Bt cotton since the state was keen on pushing organic cotton to tap into a growing market. His contention: why go for expensive Bt cotton when you can exploit a profitable niche market (organic cotton)? But whatever officials may say, Orissa is known to have been a hotbed of GM testing for companies producing Bt cotton since 2002 — and that, too, without clearance from the Genetic Engineering Approvals Committee (GEAC), the regulator. Activist Debjeet Sarangi, founder of Living Farms which campaigns for organic farming, says almost all the brands of Bt cotton seeds are available in Rayagada and Bolangir. He believes it is part of a tested strategy — Gujarat was the testing ground in the early 2000s — by companies to capture the market. The ploy is simple: Release GM seeds clandestinely and then seek to make it legal by saying it is already widespread and farmers are demanding it. But the lax regulation and enforcement underline a deeper worry for Orissa which has become the third largest grower of organic cotton in the country. The lack of a specific liability regime for GM organisms means that the state, like the rest of the country, can make no claims on companies supplying GM seeds in the case of environmental damage. Experts say the potential extent of the harm and its timeline are a matter of uncertainty at this point although evidence is coming in of the ill-effects of GM crops on the human system. For this backward state, there is the potential impact of contamination of other crops. There have been several instances where countries have barred imports of agricultural products contaminated with GMOs. Sarangi says RTI petitions have revealed that extensive field testing of Bt cotton varieties has been underway in Orissa since 2004 are not being discontinued despite the state’s declared intention of barring GMOs. A proposal for the field trial of Bt Cotton in Bhawanipatna for the current year has been accepted and the Orissa University for Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is set to start testing of a GM food crop, the controversial Bt eggplant or brinjal. This has provoked widespread protests across Orissa because the state’s rich biodiversity boasts close to 200 varieties of eggplants. There is no way that it can prevent contamination from GM varieties through gene flow when over 80 per cent of its farmers are marginal cultivators with holdings that are less than two hectares. Surely, Orissa understands that it cannot resolve the paradox of promoting organic cultivation while playing footsie with genetically engineered crops? Latha Jishnu: Playing with fire in Orissa's farmland
  21. sidmis

    Copter Cabinet

    Copter Cabinet as reported by Farzand Ahmed Bhubaneswar, November 7, 2008 India Today The chief minister has made 63 trips in three years ATA cost of Rs 38 lakh Why walk when you can drive? And why drive when you can fly? Nowhere is this truer than in Orissa, where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet colleagues seem to be coptering their way to new heights of profligacy. Take Khurda, barely 30 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar. It’s a distance even an outdated Ambassador car would cover in 45 minutes, and a return journey would need less than 10 litres of petrol. But the times are changing, and dearly so. Some of Patnaik’s colleagues prefer to hire helicopters for a trip such as this at a cost of Rs 60,000 per hour. Konark is only 65 km from the capital and by road it takes about 90 minutes. But that didn’t stop a minister from chartering a helicopter at a cost of Rs 1.20 lakh for the two-hour trip. Chartered helicopters cost about Rs 50,000 an hour to use; the waiting charge is Rs 10,000 per hour. But it’s all official, and so what if the places helicopters are taken to are a few hours away from Bhubaneswar by road: Bhadrak, Sukinda, Kansi, Jaleswar, Balasore and Malud, all on highways considered good by Orissa standards. These are only a few examples of Orissa’s high-flying ministers, and in a state that official statistics say is among the poorest, where 57 per cent of the population lives on Rs 12 or less a day. According to the details given by the government’s General Administration (GA) Department, the Orissa Government spends at least Rs 1 crore every year on helicopters chartered for the chief minister, ministers and select bureaucrats. Between 2005-06 and 2007-08, Patnaik and his ministers alone spent about Rs 2.50 crore. Besides, a number of bureaucrats also flew to different places for review meetings or aerial surveys spending huge sums of taxpayers’ money. Most of the time helicopters were hired from private firms like Deccan Aviation Ltd, MESCO Airlines Ltd and even from IMFA, a company owned by Baijayant Panda, Rajya Sabha MP and a close confidant of Patnaik. Sometimes, the chief minister and his officials travelled to Delhi by chartered aircraft, each trip costing close to Rs 6 lakh even though regular airline flights operate on the route. These details of Patnaik’s Cabinet that is airborne half the time were obtained by Biswajit Mohanty, a social activist who took the Right to Information route to seek details of the flying visits of ministers and bureaucrats. “Air-conditioned vehicles are at the disposal of ministers. Then why this luxury?” Mohanty asks. What surprised this activist was the official admission that “there are no such rules, guidelines or circulars regarding tours of ministers by chartered aircraft or helicopters”. However, the GA Department, under direct charge of the chief minister, informed Mohanty in writing that “aircraft or helicopters of different firms are hired whenever required for undertaking tours of ministers”. This indicates chaos in the state secretariat. Ministers have hired helicopters for routine engagements like attending rallies and inaugurating school buildings. Besides, there are ministers who use the Maoist threat as an excuse to hire helicopters. Minister for Energy and Culture S.N. Patro was supposed to go to Gajapati district in central Orissa for some official functions by road but decided to hire a private helicopter. He forwarded a note saying the superintendent of police of the area had informed him over phone about a landmine threat. The flying visit went through and government paid Rs 2,74,220 for the arrangement. NCP leader Bijoy Mohapatra, a Patnaik critic, says misuse of helicopters indicates how luxury-minded the Cabinet has become. “I used to obtain information from government departments and highlighted it. But as it became an embarrassment for the chief minister, who has carefully cultivated an image of a man of simple living, all channels of information were blocked suddenly,” adds Mohapatra, a former ministerial colleague of Naveen’s father Biju Patnaik. The princely lifestyle of ministers does not suit povertystricken Orissa. Industrialist MP Jay Panda owns a firm that hires out helicopters Besides, flying to even short distances by chartered helicopters also helps these non-performing ministers to keep away from the people, Mohapatra says. “Once you travel by road you will face people and will have to answer their queries about development or lack of it,” he adds. Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai, reputed to be one of the richest politicians in Orissa, does not agree. “It’s ridiculous to think that ministers live a luxurious life,” he says, arguing that ministers hire helicopters with prior approval of the chief minister to visit only far-off places. “We can’t afford to spend more time unnecessarily outside the state capital. Besides, under Naveen babu, all ministers are expected to lead a simple life,” he adds. Only a couple of years ago, the chief minister along with Ghadai was credited for bringing along a fiscal turnaround that had impressed even the World Bank. “Real growth reached an average of 8.4 per cent over the past years; ahead of the all-India average,” says Ghadai. Nine years in power and Patnaik continues to be an embodiment of simplicity in his trademark white kurta-pyjama and Kolhapuri chappals. He often says that “the beauty of Orissa camouflages its acute poverty”. It can’t be seen from a great height either. Flights of fancy As ministers hop on to choppers, the government coughs up a pile. Naveen Patnaik, CM No. of Trips: 63 Total Cost: Rs 38, 32,500 Padmanabha Behera, Former mines minister No. of Trips: 04 Total Cost: Rs 7, 91,062 P C Ghadai, Finance Minister No. of Trips: 09 Total Cost: Rs 2, 10,6686 Biswabhusan Harichandan, Rural Development Minister No. of Trips: 32 Total Cost: Rs 81, 35,490 Pramila Mallick, Women & Child Development No. of Trips: 02 Total Cost: Rs 2, 21,430 G.B. Nayak, Fisheries No. of Trips: 02 Total Cost: Rs 1, 60,436 S.N. Nayak, Agriculture No. of Trips: 05 Total Cost: Rs 11, 60,765 S.N. Patro, Energy Minister No. of Trips: 10 Total Cost: Rs 12, 00,092 Raghunath Mohanty, Panchayati Raj Minister No. of Trips: 03 Total Cost: Rs 4, 69,118 Manmohan Samal, Revenue & Food Minister No. of Trips: 14 Total Cost: Rs 46, 86,934 A.U. Singh Deo, Housing & Works Minister No. of Trips: 02 Total Cost: Rs 6, 42,127 K.V. Singh Deo, Urban Development Minister No. of Trips: 07 Total Cost: Rs 7, 44,938 Debashish Nayak, Former information minister No. of Trips: 08 Total Cost: Rs 9, 79,700 Debi Prasad Mishra , Excise & Tourism Minister No. of Trips: 03 Total Cost: Rs 5, 44,604 India Today - India's most widely read magazine.
  22. As reported in thestatesman.net on 02 October 2008: The Statesman HC judges’ recruitment letters under review BHUBANESWAR, Oct. 2: Should proceedings and correspondence relating to consideration of names for appointment of High Court Judges be made public under the RTI or not is a question in front of the Information Commission here. Mr Janardan Samantray, the applicant strongly feels that the process, the names and the correspondence between the government and the Chief Justice should be provided to him. It will only help usher transparency and more so in the light of the recent steps and statements made by the Chief Justice of India. Mr Samantray had moved the home department here in February seeking copy of the procedure for consideration of appointment of Orissa High Court Judges during the period 2006-08. The home department transferred the matter to the parliamentary affairs department which in turn rejected the application on grounds of confidentiality in March this year. Mr Samantray went on first appeal stating that the information sought by him does not come under the ‘exempt category’of RTI and he was therefore entitled to get it. The subsequent developments in the matter are rather interesting. The first appeal was heard and since it involved correspondence between the government and the Chief Justice enquiries were made at the CM’s office which in turn suggested to the parliamentary affairs department to seek the advise of the court. Consequently, the advise was reportedly sought from the public information officer of the High Court. The first appeal was rejected and Mr Samantray was denied the information that he had sought. Moving the information commission with his second appeal on 11 September, Mr Samantray has quoted apex rout observations like darkness does no good, light never causes any harm and certain recent remarks of the CJI. He asserts that there was no validity in the rejection of his first appeal and there was no provision of seeking ‘advise’ from the public information officer of the high court. Under what procedure of the RTI has the advise been sought and given and when the party concerned has not been heard by the PIO, he said. The second appeal is pending with the information commission. But it has certainly raised a debate on the entire issue of whether such information needs to be made public or not.
  23. Higher education: A lucritive business as reported by Statesman News Service, The Statesman SAMBALPUR, Oct. 2: With higher education being the top priority in the agenda of most households, it is often alleged that providing the same has become a lucrative business. While parents do not hesitate in spending their hard-earned money on higher education of their wards, the state of affairs in some of the so-called elite private colleges here are not above suspicion. An information availed of under the Right to Information Act (RTI) speaks volumes about the other side of one such private college. One such college of Sambalpur is still taking in students, despite having permission to do till 10 September. Mr Bhwani Shankar Pradhan a resident of Bargarh district has been informed under RTI by the deputy director of higher education of Sambalpur regional office, that a particular 'plus two' Science college at Ainthapali here doesn’t have an affiliation. It is further mentioned that the question of affiliation of the college doesn’t arise since it doesn’t fulfil the preliminary formalities. “But practically, this private college run by a trust has now more than 100 students from Orissa and the neighbouring Chhatissgarh state who have paid Rs 46, 000 as admission and other fees for a year. If the college does not get an affiliation, the future of the students and the college in uncertain,” alleged Mr Pradhan. The intellectuals here have expressed serious concern over such irregularity and commercialisation of education. Mr Srikant Panigrahi, Mr Debashis Purohit and Mr Deo Kiran Patnaik, among others, have appealed before the district collector for stringent action against the college authorities as per law. The Statesman
  24. sidmis

    RTI Act yet to benefit masses

    RTI Act yet to benefit masses as reported by Statesman News Service DHENKANAL, Aug. 17: Though the right to information (RTI) Act is known as the common man's weapon against corruption, the vested interest groups have benefited more by its use, said newly-appointed state information commissioner Mr Jagadananda here today. While delivering the 16th foundation day lecture on 'Role of media in ensuring governance accountability' at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) today, the information commissioner pointed out that the accountability of legislature, executive and judiciary should also be maintained in a bid to make the system more transparent and people-friendly. "Though the RTI Act was envisaged as a weapon for the poor and downtrodden and the victims of development, it is really unfortunate that these particular sections of mass are yet to derive the benefit of the revolutionary Act," he regretted. The vested interest groups collect information and use those for their own interests, while the common people are yet to access it, he said while underscoring the role of media in helping the common people availing the benefits of the Act. "Social auditing, citizens' charter also play greater roles in making the system transparent," he noted. Later, while responding to questions put by the students, Mr Jagadananda admitted that the commission has been facing a lot of difficulties for the lack of adequate infrastructural support. "Poor management of records and inconveniences in accessing them later also creates problems for information-seekers," he observed while maintaining that a good deal of time is spent locating the related files. "Proper information management and sensitisation of people by the mass media will facilitate the functioning of the commission," he remarked. ... ... The Statesman
  25. As reported by Kalinga Times Correspondent in kalingatimes.com on 26 April 2008: KalingaTimes.com: Orissa Transport Minister in false affidavit row Orissa Transport Minister in false affidavit row Sambalpur (Orissa), April 26: Yet another Orissa minister has been found to have filed false affidavit adding to the woes of the ruling Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition. State Transport and Commerce Minister Jayanarayan Mishra, who belongs to the BJP, has been found guilty of providing false information about his educational qualification while filing nomination in the 2004 Assembly polls. Information gathered under Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that contrary to the information filed in an affidavit, Mishra has not passed his Bachelors Degree. Allegations over the issue was first made by Sambalpur Bikash Manch (SBM) and to substantiate its allegation it sought information under RTI. Although information obtained under RTI has proved the allegation correct, the Minister remains unfazed and said that he would prove his point in the right forum. In the affidavit Mishra had declared that he had passed his graduation examination from Burla NAC College under Sambalpur University in 1984. But information provided by the PIO cum Principal of Burla NAC College on application under RTI by Convenor of SBM Debasis Purohit has said the minister completed his Intermediate in Arts (IA) during the period 1981-83. It has further said that although Mishra pursued his Bachelors Degree (BA) in the year 1984 to 1986 with History and Political Science it was unaware about the Minister completing his Degree. However, the college has also said that it was not in a position to provide any information about passing of BA by Mishra as records relating to the same is no more available in the college. However, in his affidavit submitted with the nomination papers, Mishra has informed that he has passed completed his graduation from Burla NAC College in 1984. But the question remains is how could he complete his graduation a year after passing IA as it requires two years of attending college before being allowed to appear for the BA examination. Meanwhile, the issue has provided fodder for the State Youth Congress President Rohit Pujari, an aspirant for Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat. In a statement to the media, Pujari has demanded resignation of Mishra and urged the Election Commission to initiate action against the Minister. A similar incident had occurred earlier when Minister of State for Labour Pradipta Kumar Naik had quit his post allegedly filing an affidavit giving wrong information. A case was also registered against him in this connection. Naik, however, had later come out clean.
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