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Tsunami yet to hit PM’s Relief Fund

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A Mumbai-based social activist’s curiosity led to the revelation that most of the nearly Rs 900 crore collected from citizens after the tsunami struck India in December, 2004 to provide immediate relief to the victims, is lying unused with the authorities. Mr Shailesh Gandhi had sought information about the accounts and the functioning of the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund in June, last year. But the PMO refused to divulge information under the Right to Information Act, claiming it was not covered by the RTI.

 

Later, the applicant went to the Central Information Commission which in March ruled that the relief fund is an intrinsic part of the PMO and the information would have to be provided under RTI. “In 2004-2005 more than Rs 900 crore was donated to the PM’s Relief Fund. But only Rs 101.60 crore was allocated by the government,” as per the official records available on the PM’s website. “At a time of calamity people donate generously to the PM’s Relief Fund, believing it is the best way to assist those affected by calamities. But when money either does not reach the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (as happened in the Coal India case) or remains unutilised with the government, its credibility suffers,” Magsaysay award winner and RTI activist, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, said.

 

“The PMO claimed that Rs 900 crore has been earmarked for the relief of tsunami victims. To verify the accuracy of the claim, I filed an RTI application to the PIO of PMO asking, ‘if there is a system of allocating funds for future disbursal each year, I want the details of the allocation made in 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006’,” Mr Gandhi said. The reply he got was there is “no system of prior fund allocation”. Sanction/releases are made only after the events.”

 

 

NEW DELHI, Oct. 27

Statesman News Service

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    • jeevan
      By jeevan
      What is the procedure to approach CIC directly for relief. I don't want to wait for PIO to respond.
      Can somebody suggest me.
    • ganpat1956
      By ganpat1956
      There is more good news for RTI votaries. The Chief Central Information Commission (CCIC) has recently said the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund was open to the RTI Act.
       
      Chief Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said, “The relief fund is not a trust or has acquired a legal entity. While it is a discretionary fund with the PM, the information held by PMO as the public authority and they are, therefore, obliged to make it accessible to citizens under RTI Act.”
       
      A complaint was filed by RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi when he was given improper information on his application seeking details of the PM’s fund. Under the Act, Shailesh sought details of the total amount, cash exceeding Rs 50,000 disbursed by the fund and the recipients’ list in the last two years. Though the PM’s office sent him a reply, stating the details of the fund mutilation are available on the website, he found the information was not satisfactory.
       
      “There were no specific details about how the money had been spent,” said Shailesh, who then filed a complaint with the CCIC.
       
      The order is significant for another reason. It brings into purview the funds disbursed under the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The state refused to provide information on similar grounds. An appeal challenging the state’s refusal has been pending with the State Information Commission.
       
      DNA - Mumbai - ‘PM Relief Fund open to RTI Act’ - Daily News & Analysis
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