Wednesday, October 24, 2012

maya's memorials

24 Oct 2012
Hindustan Times
M Tariq Khan
BSP memorials workforce to be cut drastically
LUCKNOW: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) memorials would have to fend for themselves with a much less workforce. Against 5,700 workers presently, only 400 employees would now manage the monuments. Their upkeep would be done with the interest earned on the R200 crore corpus set up during the BSP regime.
The BSP government had imposed a ban on spending the yield from this corpus for any other purpose except on functions to mark the death and birth anniversaries of party ideologues. “We had released R1 crore for the memorials/parks maintenance recently. But henceforth, this would have to be taken care of by the memorial committee from the interest earned on the corpus,” said a senior government official.
The proposals were mooted at a meeting presided by chief secretary Jawed Usmani on Tuesday with members of the panel formed to downsize memorial staff and suggest better utilization of open spaces and buildings in and around these memorials. “We have been asked to incorporate some changes after which a final report would be submitted,” said a senior official, who attended the meeting.
According to sources, the panel has recommended outsourcing of all cleaning and maintenance related services presently being undertaken by 3,000 safai karamcharis, a large number of who may have to be retrenched. Minus the 430 employees, who look after a grand memorial in Noida, majority of the staff is posted in the three BSP monuments, namely, Ambedkar Memorial in Gomti Nagar, the Bauddh Vihar Shanti Upvan and Kanshi Ram Smarak in Lucknow. They have little or no work to do. “We may fill up existing vacancies in tourism, culture and the LDA by transferring some of these officials to these posts,” said the official, adding that additional sources of income are also being explored
“Senior officials are keen to rent out the well-furnished administrative block (I) building of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sthal to the National Investigating Agency. The NIA is keen to take it on rent,” he said. Another proposal being vetted is to lend it to the round-the-clock call centre-cumhelpline for the girls to be launched in November, the announcement for which has already been made by the chief minister. Also on the anvil are new service rules for the 800 security personnel of the special security force that guards these memorials round the clock. “They would report to the memorial management committee which would regulate their role and duties now,” said the official.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unanswered RTI queries leave a burning trail

M Tariq Khan & Gulam Jeelani
Hindustan Times
Lucknow, October 15, 2012
First Published: 13:18 IST(15/10/2012)
Last Updated: 13:22 IST(15/10/2012)
If your query under the Right to Information (RTI) has still not been answered, there is very little chance it will ever be. This is because the clerical staff at the UP State Information Commission (UPSIC) have discovered their own way of ensuring the prompt disposal of such applications - they
simply burn or dump them in the river!
And no one would ever be any wiser simply because the commission does not keep a record of the notices it sends to the departments from whom the information has been sought. HT tried to glean information on the issue. Here are the facts, as revealed by sources in the commission:

Under lock and key

The room that served as a centralised dispatch system for delivering the notices/orders passed by the UPSIC was locked for over a month. Officially, the reason given is that the dispatch system has been decentralised. Insiders admit it's a damagecontrol move after the bosses in the commission came to know about the staff's misdeed. Instead of being assigned to just two peons, the dispatch work has now been distributed among the staff of the respective courts. The two suspect dispatchers have been shifted to other sections of the commission. The room is being used for other official work now.

Snail mail

The SIC receives nearly 450 applications on a given day. Nearly 330 notices are served per day from the commission's 11 courts. With eight vacancies, the SIC is not in full-steam at present. Most of the notices are dispatched through general post while those in which fines are imposed on officials are sent through registered post.

The response

The SIC officials said since past three months they were uploading all notices that were being sent out on the commission's website. A check by HT revealed only 259 notices had been uploaded so far, all issued in recent months. Not a very impressive track record. But commission officials said this was the best they could do with just three out of the 11 information commissioners at the helm.

Shift from past practice

Advocate BK Singh, who has filed 20 queries, says months have passed, but he is yet to receive any official intimation or information on any of his applications.
"Before the present chief information commissioner took over, the commission used to send all notices through registered/speed post," he said. Why have they done away with the system? he asks. He levels a more serious charge, saying the commission has adopted a pro-government stance. "The SIC is defunct for petitioners. Rather than ensuring that people get the information they have sought, the commission seems more inclined to dismissing their applications," he says.

The commission's case

"We were told by some staff members that the notices were not being delivered to the parties concerned. But that was three months ago. The notices are now being dispatched by the court staff only," said an official who did not want to be named.
PK Agarwal, the UPSIC secretary, dismissed the charge, saying all the notices were now being posted on the commission's website and he was maintaining a record of all the official correspondence.

Right To Information: My foot! say babus in Uttar Pradesh