Saturday, June 30, 2012

Criminals use RTI to harass cops (RTI digest)

iconimg Saturday, June 30, 2012
M Tariq Khan
Lucknow, July 03, 2006
SIX MONTHS after it came into existence, the chief information commissioner of the State still does not have a proper office and staff of his own. The wait, however, appears would be over soon as Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is all set to lay the foundation stone of a full-fledged ‘Soochna Bhawan’ in the State capital shortly. According to sources, officers of the information department, the district administration and the LDA are working out the modalities of the plan.
“In fact, the UP Rajkiye Nirman Nigam has already been given Rs 16 crore towards construction of the building that would house the office of the CIC,” said an official.
The proposed office complex would be located on BN Road just behind the Sahkarita Bhawan building on approximately 1.5 acre of land to be provided by the LDA. An offer letter
in this connection has already been sent to the State Government by the LDA.
“We are just awaiting a convenient date from the CM for the foundation laying ceremony,” said a source in the information department. According to him, the CM has also finalised the names of six people to be nominated as members on the commission’s panel.

iconimg Saturday, June 30, 2012
M Tariq Khan, PTI
January 01, 0001
IF YOU think that the Right to Information Act (RTI) has provided you with the freedom to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, consistent with public interest try asking LDA. The development agency it appears is still to come to terms with the idea of sharing information with the citizens. Not even if the information being sought is consistent with public interest. To test the efficacy of the Act that came into force on October 12, 2005, HT Lucknow Live posed three questions to the civic body last week on issues that not only affect the city at large but also come under public domain. After mulling the queries for over a week, mandarins at the LDA rejected all the three applications stating that the information was either unavailable or never gathered in the context in which it was sought.
Sample this. The LDA was asked how many completion certificates were issued by it to the commercial complexes in the past year? For the uninitiated, the development body is supposed to provide completion certificate to buildings in order to ensure that the construction has been done in accordance with the building plan approved by it.
Here’s the response of the city’s development regulator. “In response to your query about the number of completion certificates issued to commercial complexes in the city in the year 2005, we would like to inform you that this information is comparative and is not compiled by the department. Hence it would not be possible to provide the same,” states the reply signed by assistant Public Information Officer of LDA Uma Shankar Singh. If you cannot make a head or tail of it, forget it, neither could we.
The second question related to the number of plots allotted to people’s representatives and bureaucrats by the department in the last one-year? The answer: “We do not allot plots to individuals on the basis of their vocation. Nor do we seek any such information from the applicant in our application form.”
Pray, how then did the department went public with a long list of names of bureaucrats and politicians who were allotted plots in a similar manner by previous regimes immediately after the controversial Vipul Khand plot allotment issue hit the headlines.
Lastly, the development agency was asked about the number and kind of land uses of Master Plan 2001 were changed by it in the Master Plan 2021 of the city?
“The information sought is available in the Master Plan booklet, which is available in the LDA store and can be purchased from there,” was the only coherent reply furnished by the agency. It is evident from the LDA’s behavior that the RTI remains a stillborn baby and that it would take a long time for authorities in charge to get used to sharing information/documents with the citizens.

iconimg Saturday, June 30, 2012
M. Tariq Khan, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, November 16, 2007
A Right To Information application over a high-profile project has put the UP government and the state chief information commissioner (CIC) on collision course. What has annoyed the CIC is the denial of information about Chief Minister Mayawati’s pet Ambedkar Smarak project in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar despite a panel directive. CIC Justice (retired) M.A. Khan has threatened to hand over the matter to the CBI if the state refused to comply with his order to provide information on the multi-crore project.
He issued a notice to Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh on Thursday to personally appear before the commission on December 12 to explain why information sought by RTI applicant Shailendra Singh was not provided to him.
“LDA’s (Lucknow Development Authority) public information officer says the monument being
built is akin to the Taj Mahal. Would there be two Taj Mahals now? To which one would the tourists go first, the one at Lucknow or the one at Agra,” he asked.
Chief Secretary P.K. Mishra, who was to appear before the commission on Thursday, moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance. His counsel claimed Mishra had no say in government matters.
The LDA, which is the nodal agency for developing the Ambedkar Smarak project, gave the petitioner a four-page response. But Singh has rubbished it, saying the information was cursory and an attempt to hoodwink the commission.

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