Government of India gave the Right of Information to citizens of India by passing the RTI Act in 2005. In two years it has started showing good results as now the officers cannot hide their corruption and inefficiency behind the cover of the Official Secrets Act.
Shri Bimal Kumar Khemani of Aligarh is a silent dedicated worker of All India Grahak Panchayat. Along with it, he has taken up the work of Right to Information. In Aligarh he has formed a group of ten enthusiasts and selected six departments viz. education, telecommunication, Nagar-Nigam/ADA, electricity, medical and pollution. His technique has been to make two or three persons ask questions on one topic of a department with different angles and then through cross checking of information to reach the truth. This is followed by a new set of questions asking how the different answers can be reconciled. This exposes corruption.
Shri Khemani says that during the last 60 years we have successfully destroyed the one time iron system of governance. For example (i) the Receipt Register has been given a go by, (ii) index of files is either not done or is not kept up to date. (iii) the pages of a file are not numbered and indexed as it becomes convenient to replace pages (iv) the bosses have too much work load. So the works remain ignored. (v) the officers habitually do not go through the files. They dispose them as per the noting of their confident clerks. Obviously all this and the methods to bypass systems breed corruption which at present has taken the form of a hillock.
Shri Khemani has exposed corruption in Aligarh. Here are some examples.
The team selected two institutions of Aligarh?D.S. Post Graduate College and Aligarh Muslim University. It is for the readers to evaluate the information compiled.
1) D.S. College?For the last 15 years or so, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has kept under suspension the Managing Committee of the College under one or the other pretext and appointed District Magistrate, Aligarh, as its Controller (though it was not necessary to appoint D.M.). The 15 years long touch with government has destroyed the college system. Following are a few examples.
(a) A luxury car, Inova, was purchased on August 17, 2005 for Rs 7,71.650.00. No requisition was made by any body and no trouble was taken to find out which car to purchase. Quite a handsome money was spent for getting a VIP registration number. This car was never seen in the college premises yet a driver was appointed on June 2, 2006 and is being regularly paid. One does not know where he is working. The Log Book of the car is not available. None wants to say how many kilometers the car has travelled and for which work. There is no accountability and the poor college has been robbed of lakhs of rupees of the students? money.
(b) It appears that the District Magistrate cum Controller and the Principal have decided to punish anyone who becomes uncomfortable to them. Here are four examples.
(i) The salary payment of a senior teacher of the Department, of Psychology, Dr K.P. Sharma was suddenly stopped without giving him a chargesheet and appointing an Enquiry Committee. Further, he was allowed to work as usual. On the representation of the teacher, the Vice-Chancellor wrote that the teacher'ssalary cannot be stopped by the college legally as no prior permission has been taken from him. The Director of Higher Education wrote several letters asking the Administrator to make the payment. Nothing happened under the protecting umbrella of an IAS officer. The teacher was forced to file a writ petition in the High Court which ruled that a charge sheet be given and a proper enquiry be held. Enquiry did not yield any tangible results. In 36 months the teacher was completely shattered and it appeared he may die. Only then his salary was released.
(ii) Salary of Dr Om Prakash Sharma of the Department of Sanskrit was suddenly stopped and thereafter released with the same suddenness, after a few months. No noting was made in the file.
(iii) Dr S.N. Misra, former Head of the Department of Sanskrit and a reputed scholar was engaged on a monthly payment of Rs. 5000.00 p.m. to teach spoken Sanskrit to students under a scheme of the UGC. After six months, his services were dispensed with but he was not paid a shell for his services?under which law?
(iv) Shri S.K. Garg retired as Accountant about ten years back. Till this date, his pension papers have not been forwarded to the Director of Higher Education. No charge sheet was ever served on him. The poor ex-employee is not getting his pension for no fault of his. He is suffering in silence because of his past honesty.
Is the Human Rights Commission seeing?
(c) The College started construction work worth crores of rupees without requisitions from the departments, without permission from the D.S. Society which is the owner of the land, without getting the maps passed by the Municipal Corporation/ADA and without inviting tenders etc. A controller, who is for a temporary period, can not allow it.
(d) The College thought it below its dignity to apply to the Bar-Council of India to give permission to continue the Law Classes (five years courses) and yet admitted students. What will happen to these poor students after passing out, only god knows. They will not be eligible to practice.
His Magesty, the king Emperor, can do no wrong. The Government touch of Midas works wonders.
2. Aligarh Muslim University
(a) Jan Soochana Adhikari of the Aligarh Muslim University, in reply to a questions sent a copy of the minutes of the Executive Council Meetings. This reveals that deputation of the University, led by the Vice-Chancellor, called upon the Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh and requested him to give money to construct two hostels as University is unable to give hostel accommodation to more than 2000 students. The Minister immediately promised a special grant of rupees 40 crore. Later, the honest Vice-Chancellor could find out that about 1500 outsiders were living in the hostels. One may venture to ask why the Minister did not follow the procedures before announcing the grant and releasing it? Is he above the law?
(b) University constructs buildings regularly but neither gets the maps passed by Municipal Corporation/ADA, as per rules, nor pays the House Tax.
Will the Aligarh Municipal Corporation/ADA wake up?
3. Department of tele-communication
a) Government formed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) in 2000 and sent its officers on deputation to BSNL. The Presidential order makes it clear that the officers will not be paid the deputation allowance (as they will be enjoying several facilities not available to them now). It has been revealed now that most of these officers have managed to get ?Deemed Deputation Allowance? of Rs. 3,700.00 p.m. More than 3000 officers are on deputation. So they are giving a loss of crores of rupees per year to the Government. Who is responsible?
The officers who have joined BSNL should have either opted for BSNL or returned to the parent Department upto 2005. Nothing has been done. Is it how the Government functions?
b) An Agreement has been made by the G.M. Aligarh with the United Insurance Co. about some land. The agreement has not been signed by the G.M. but by some one else who has not been given the Power of Attorney to do so. Is it not a fraud?
c) BSNL has hired several cars for its officers on yearly basis. On enquiry the BSNL provided the numbers of these cars. The local Transport Authority revaled that some of the numbers of the hired cars are of scooters, tractor, etc.
4) Aligarh Municipal Corporation
a) Questions on sewage covers were followed by a request of on the spot checking with the representatives of the corporation, press and public. The check up revealed that most of the covers of the sewage system on the roads of Aligarh were either broken, or missing or above or below the roads levels, thus hindering smooth movement of traffic and sometimes causing accidents.
b) Questions revealed that most of the Pump Houses and over-head or underground water tanks are in a very bad shape. They are neither maintained properly, nor cleaned regularly and safety precautions are taken. In case of a fire the missing connections of hydrants will create troubles. Further any person is free to walk in and throw poison in the water tanks killing hundreds of innocent citizens.
c) The motors of most of the Pump Houses burn frequently and are repaired. For example, at Janakpuri, the motor pumps got burnt four times in the month of March 2008. The best part is that no Log Book is maintained. No checking is made by a technical person and no order is given by a competent authority to replace or repair the burnt motor. This is obviously a big source of corruption.
Shri Khemani says that the purpose of using the RTI Act is to extract informations with a view to awake the administration so that it may set its house in order. It is not to pull down the system. So Shri Khemani organises meeting where he familiarises the people and the officers of the administration of the main provisions of the Act, how to frame questions, how to give informations and what are the duties of the Information Officers, etc.
One will like to congratulate Shri Bimal Kumar Khemani and his teammates for this wonderful social service. But then one million question arises: Is the exposure sufficient? Who is there to note these informations and take suitable actions so that the collapsed system may be put on the rails again. Have the government slogans of transparency and accountability any meaning left?
(The writer can be contacted at J-60, Janak Puri, Aligarh-202 001.)