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RTI query on VIP pyre platforms built by MCD


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RTI query on VIP pyre platforms built by MCD

as reported by Abhinav Garg, 1 Oct 2008, TNN


NEW DELHI: Can the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) discriminate even in death and accord VIP cremations to some while denying it to others? Central Information Commission will take up this question on Wednesday on an RTI plea seeking information on criteria adopted by MCD to allow utilisation of its three newly built platforms for funeral purposes.


The issue arose on an RTI plea, filed by Subhash Chandra Aggarwal in August this year, where he made queries about ‘‘reasons to build three semi-VIP pyre-platforms at Nigambodh Ghat Cremation Ground, and criterion for allowing cremation on these three semi-VIP pyre-platforms.’’


In his plea, Aggarwal further wondered if it was ‘‘fair that discrimination is done by MCD even in cremation between ordinary and influential persons’’ also demanding to know if there was any procedure of allowing cremation on the only high-raised VVIP platform which is-----* pressed into service.


Responding to his questions and demand for file notings, the information officer for the civic agency claimed that the construction of these so called VIP platforms was infact for ‘‘public-benefit’’ and that everyone could use them subject to availability. However, the CPIO remained mum on the query about procedure to apply for use of VIP or semi-VIP platforms and refused to furnish any related file notings.


Unable to comprehend how erecting three platforms which are different from the rest as they have a grill around a block of three pyres could benefit the public, Aggarwal went in appeal, suspecting it was more to satisfy the ego of certain persons that a separate facility like this was provided for by MCD.


The appellate authority too failed to shed any light on procedure followed to allow usage of VIP and semi-VIP platforms at Nigambodh Ghat.


CIC is slated to consider the appeal on Wednesday.


RTI query on VIP pyre platforms built by MCD-Delhi-Cities-The Times of India

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As reported on ptinews.com on 02 October 2008:



CIC to inspect Nigambodh Ghat


New Delhi, Oct 2 (PTI) In a rare decision, Central Information Commission plans to conduct an inspection of the Nigambodh Ghat here on Saturday over allegations that there is a big difference between services offered to common citizens and VIPs at most crematoria in the city.


Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah while hearing a petition filed by an RTI activist Subhash Agrawal accepted his plea for undertaking a physical inspection of the site along with officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.


In his plea, Agrawal claimed that MCD has recently installed a grill around pyre platforms for common citizens and named them as semi-VIP platforms. The MCD had claimed that these were built 25 years ago and the installation of the grill was only part of renovation.


Agrawal wanted to know from MCD the reasons for constructing new semi-VIP pyre platforms and the criterion for allowing cremation on these platforms.


The civic body in its reply had claimed these platforms were built for "public-benefit" and could be used by anyone subject to availability.


During the hearing, Agrawal raised the issue of "discrimination" done by MCD even in death and cremation. He alleged that the semi-VIP pyre platform were built to satisfy the so-called ego of the rich and the influential.


"At Nigambodh Ghat there is already a raised VIP platform. There was one old platform which was demolished to build these new ones. The MCD had just added a grill to distinguish them from the common platforms," Agrawal said before the Commission.


He alleged that these semi-VIP pyre platforms were constructed to serve influential people who do not want to cremate their relatives with common people.

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In a rare decision, Central Information Commission plans to conduct an inspection of the Nigambodh Ghat here on Saturday


Is there any absolute necessity for the CIC to visit personally to ascertain the facts? :mad:


Is it not possible to depute someone to do this? :confused:

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Is there any absolute necessity for the CIC to visit personally to ascertain the facts? :mad:


Is it not possible to depute someone to do this? :confused:


It was the appellant who requested that inspection be done by the Commission to establish the correct facts, because the appellant said that NDMC was not giving the correct facts.


Please see:



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As reported by IANS in newkerala.com on 20 February 2010:

Reveal reasons behind 'semi-VVIP' pyres: CIC tells DDA .:. newkerala.com Online News -55650


Reveal reasons behind 'semi-VVIP' pyres: CIC tells DDA


New Delhi, Feb 20 : The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been urged to reveal the reasons behind constructing three 'semi-VVIP' pyres at the Nigambodh Ghat cremation ground here.


The Central Information Commission (CIC) posed the question following an appeal by Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who asked the question to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).


"The PIO (Public Information Officer) of DDA is directed to give the complete information to the appellant before March 25, 2010," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said in his order.


Agrawal also sought the criteria for cremations at the VVIP and the semi-VVIP platforms at the cremation ground. He wanted to know who all would be entitled to perform cremations on the pyres.


"It is unfortunate that MCD and DDA became party to distinguish between persons according to their status even after their deaths by developing a block of three semi-VVIP pyres distinguishing the block from other pyre-blocks by surrounding the semi-VVIP pyre-block by iron-railings. Concerned authorities should immediately remove the iron-railings to abolish any distinction between ordinary and semi-VVIP pyres," said Agrawal.


"The only raised VVIP-platform should not be allowed for cremation except for defined categories of personalities, with no deviation or exception allowed in any case. The idea should be to put all persons at par at least after death for aspects like cremation," he added.

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By Vidya Subrahmaniam(NEW DELHI, February 21, 2010)


First there were the VIPs. Then came the VVIPs. Now a new category called “semi-VVIPs” has emerged, courtesy the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).


The coinage came to light recently when a Right to Information applicant filed an appeal before the Central Information Commission (CIC) seeking full information on the construction of a block of three “semi-VVIP” pyres at the Nigambodh Ghat cremation grounds. The CIC allowed the appeal on Thursday.


The appellant, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, filed an RTI application with the MCD on October 24, 2009.


He sought “detailed and complete information,” including “documents, file notings and correspondence,” pertaining to procedures and criteria followed for VVIP cremations.


‘Redevelopment plan’


Though Mr. Agrawal filed 13 questions, he was particularly agitated by a block of three segregated “semi-VVIP” pyres that had sprung up under the MCD’s recent “redevelopment plan.” That the new pyres were a response to Delhi’s growing club of VVIPs was obvious enough. Yet this was class discrimination in death, and so Mr. Agrawal shot off his questions: What prompted the corporation to develop these fenced-off pyres? And what criteria decided who qualified to be called “semi-VVIPs”?


Ashok K. Rawat, Principal Information Officer of the MCD’s health department, was clearly not amused by the queries.


He refused to explain why the special pyres had come up, noting that these were allotted “subject to availability” or on the orders of the MCD headquarters. He added that the MCD had not circulated any criteria for the use of the “semi-VVIP” pyres.


After Mr. Agrawal’s appeal to the Municipal Health Officer and first appellate authority N.K. Yadav got him nowhere, he approached the CIC.


Shailesh Gandhi, Central Information Commissioner, reprimanded Mr. Yadav for not acting on the first appeal and directed the MCD to furnish the information Mr. Agrawal sought by March 5, 2010.


Mr. Agrawal told The Hindu that his interest in filing the application was to ensure that the MCD dismantled the iron railings around the “semi-VVIP pyres.” “The railings suggest that status is an issue even in death.”


Source: The Hindu : News / National : “Semi-VVIPs” seek special slots at Nigambodh Ghat

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As reported in financialexpress.com on 06 July 2010:

MCD discriminates on funeral pyres?


MCD discriminates on funeral pyres?


New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has slammed the Public Information Officer of Municipal Corporation of Delhi for providing "misleading information" to an RTI applicant.


The Commission has sought the MCD's Public Information Officer's reply as to why no disciplinary action should be taken against him and penalty be imposed for non compliance of the Act.


The CIC's action came following an RTI plea by Subhash Chandra Aggarwal, who had sought information regarding alleged discrimination related to semi-VIP pyres (which have grills around them) in Nigambodh Ghat Cremation Ground here.


"The grills erected around these three pyres are for cremation ceremony of only selected individuals," Aggarwal had claimed.


Unsatisfied over the replies by both the PIO and First Appellate Authority (FAA), Aggarwal had moved the transparency watchdog.


"The appellant has been trying to being to the attention the fact that in funeral pyres at Nigambodh Ghat on the bank of the river Yamuna... it appears that discrimination has been done in cremation of dead bodies.


"In a democracy that proclaims equality amongst all human beings, the existence of such a practise encouraged by any public authority would be a matter of grate shame," the CIC observed in its order.


The appellant produced before the Commission a letter given by MCD stating that the so called semi-VIP pyres were constructed at Nigambodh Ghat 25 years back.


On the other hand, DDA, which had made the platforms and the cremation facilities informed the appellant that the platforms and pyres were made in 2006.


"DDA also states that they did not provide any semi-VIP pyres at the cremation ground. The DDA officials have also confirmed that when they inspected the cremation ground on July 3, they found that railings have been provided in a temporary manner around one of the platforms having three pyres. The appellant's allegation is that this is being treated as a semi-VIP pyre by the administration.


"From evidence produced before the Commission, the appellant's allegation that the PIO of MCD has been providing misleading information appears to be correct... the Commission treats this as an attempt by the PIO of MCD to obstruct the giving of correct information," the CIC said.


The Commission issued summons to the PIO of MCD to showcause why penalty and disciplinary proceedings under should not be recommended against him for misleading the Commission and not being present at the hearing, it said in the order.

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As reported by Utkarsh Anand in indianexpress.com on 03 Oct 2011:



CIC warns against VIP pyre culture at Nigambodh Ghat


While the management of Nigambodh Ghat on the banks of Yamuna changes hand amid controversies surrounding its VIP and semi-VIP pyre platforms, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has taken strong exception against “undesired pressure” from influential people at the cremation ground. The CIC has also directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to ensure nobody pulls strings in such matters.


While deciding an RTI plea, Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi lent credence to a written statement on behalf of the president of the Arya Samaj group, which has been managing the affairs at the cremation ground for more than three decades.


Responding to a query under the Right To Information by S C Agrawal, the person in-charge of the crematorium had claimed that, “because of unbearable circumstances, including undesired pressures from time to time, and threat to life of our staff working at Nigambodh Ghat from someone who we cannot practically name, we have no option than to immediately surrender the management to the MCD.”


Agrawal had questioned the new numbering of pyres at the Nigambodh Ghat and averred that it was done to create some additional space around the two Arya Samaj pyres in order to use them in the guise of semi-VIP pyres.


This was done to hoodwink authorities after the three semi-VIP pyres were demolished in pursuant to the CIC’s strictures, Agrawal had said. He sought to know the criteria followed in allotting this pyre, besides the information on the personalities and institutions, if any, authorised to recommend cremation on this pyre, which maintains a distance from the crematorium.


Appearing for the crematorium, in-charge Avdesh Sharma admitted before the Commission that the new numbering was “wrongly done under pressure.”


It was also contended that this has since been rectified and that they were against the VIP-pyre culture. Sharma added that they were now unable to continue managing the crematorium and had decided to give up on its management owing to adversities.


During the proceedings, Agrawal told the Commission that the culture of VIP and semi-VIP pyres was only a method to mint money and that the newly designated pyre was only a replacement of th one demarcated on the basis of social standing.


Noting his “distress” that somebody had to fight against corrupt practices even at the crematorium, Gandhi said: “The Commission hopes that the MCD and police will take cognisance of the statement made by the president of Arya Samaj, on the “pressure and threat to life of staff”.

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As reported by Nilima Pathak in gulfnews.com on 09 Oct 2011:



Delhi's corrupt do not spare even the dead


TV crew reporting on crematorium graft attacked


New Delhi: Life for some has come to such a pass that they do not hesitate to make money and do business on dead bodies.


A team of broadcast journalists pursuing a report on allegations of corruption in allotting funeral pyres at one of Delhi's oldest cremation grounds was threatened and manhandled by goons allegedly at the behest of a politician. The team was shooting for at the Nigambodh Ghat, a cremation ground on the banks of Yamuna River.


A Right To Information (RTI) activist had recently filed a petition against the "corruption and irregularities" at cremation grounds. Activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had written to the Central Vigilance Commission to look into the business of relevant authorities who had allegedly been allotting pyre platforms to influential people for a bribe.


Situated on the Ring Road near the historic Red Fort, the Nigambodh Ghat is considered the oldest and busiest of Hindu cremation grounds in Delhi with 50-60 pyres burning every day.


A broadcast journalist Mohammad Aquid and cameraperson Ramesh of state television Doordarshan were at the Nigambodh Ghat to investigate whether the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) that had outsourced the running of the ground had intervened to improve matters. Following an order of the Central Information Commissioner, the MCD had complained to the police, but it seemed no further action had been taken.


"While we were shooting, some people came out of the crematorium and turned hostile. One of them claimed to be on a politician's staff. He tried to snatch documents and camera from our team and threatened us with dire consequences if we pursued the story," Aquid said.


Even though a complaint was lodged by the team at the Kashmiri Gate police station, B.P. Gupta, Chairman, Arya Samaj, Lodhi Road, in-charge of the crematorium, said, "I am not aware of any such incident. There is no [such] system now. Sometimes influential people come and we cannot stop them from using the pyre platforms."

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