Citizens’ Travails


Samaritan let off after 10 yrs 

 New Delhi: More than 10 years after the police slapped a dacoity charge on the driver of a commercial vehicle who had helped a man robbed by four assailants, a city court acquitted him in the case.

    Shakil, who was driving a TCR on the night of September 18, 1996, was implicated in the matter when a man robbed by unknown offenders claimed in an FIR that the driver had links with the robbers.
    The driver, however, challenged this allegation in court and contended that it was he who took complainant B M Gupta to his friend’s house after the incident and then drove them to police station.

    The court accepted Shakil’s plea and said: ‘‘If the accused is one of the culprits then he was also in a position to run away, but instead he took the complainant to the latter’s friend’s house and then to the police station.’’ PTI

Exorbitant bills: MTNL draws flak

New Delhi: The State Consumer Commission has come down heavily on a public-sector telecom company for its ‘‘indifferent and mechanical approach’’ towards the grievances of consumers and directed it to withdraw exorbitant telephone bills against a person.
   ‘‘Instead of taking action against its own officials the appellant authority (MTNL) has inflicted a heavy blow on a poor consumer…,’’ Justice J D Kapoor, president of the Commission, said, referring to the sudden increase in the telephone bills of one Rajiv, a resident of Vasant Kunj.
   Dismissing MTNL’s appeal against a district consumer forum’s order to withdraw the two bills, the Commission said, ‘‘A poor consumer who for last two years has not made more than 200-400 calls and suddenly to expect him to have made 29,000-34,000 calls is mindboggling.’’
   It expressed unhappiness over the fact that MTNL had failed to properly inquire into the the huge bills of Rs 41,132 and Rs 29,877 against him. PTI

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Flyovers: Boon 0r Bane ?


A team from Citizens Alliance for Promotion of Responsive Governance carried out study of IIT and Dhaula Kuan flyovers. The study was conducted over a period of 8 weeks. A short video film has also been produced which includes interviews with various road users.Can he cross safely?Pedestrians risking lives

2.      The study indicates that there is an urgent necessity to ensure that a)     All current and future projects on road sections be undertaken in consultations with all stakeholders prior embarking on a project.
b)    Road safety Audits must be carried out on all current and future projects.
c)     Road Safety Assessments should also be carried on completion of all projects and at regular intervals to cater for changes in traffic pattern.
d)    Carry out an assessment immediately to Identify spots where subways and over bridges need to be constructed.
e)     Maintenance agencies, PWD, BSES, NDPL etc should be directed to ensure regular repair and maintenance of road sections, signage, traffic signals, pedestrians crossings and street lights.
f)      Special attention should be paid to ensure that footpaths are free from encroachments and are fit for pedestrian use at al times.
g)     Pedestrians’ crossings must be planned and markings should be clearly visible at all times throughout the year.
h)     Pedestrian lights should be catered for, at all busy crossings. A study may please be initiated at for this purpose immediately.

Flyovers: Vulnerable Pedestrians

Filed under: Traffic Management

1.  Seized with the problem of mounting number of accidents and deaths on the roads, it was decided by CAPRG to study the causes for accidents on Delhi roads. Reasons put forward by experts and academicians are well known, viz Driver related, User related, Vehicle related, Environment related, Road related, and Traffic related. However, when the behavioural patterns of road users were studied it was noted that many actions of road users, which could result in accidents, were due to factors beyond their control. It was also noted that behaviour of road users was greatly dependent upon road conditions, signage, footpaths, pedestrians’ crossings, presence, or absence of subways and footbridges. 

 

2.      Study indicates that lacunae in the design and maintenance of roads and pedestrian facilities are major factors leading to accident situations. (A copy of the study is attached).
a)     Road sections are mainly designed to cater to easing the problems faced by fast moving traffic; problems faced by Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) are not adequately addressed   at the planning and design stages. This bias needs to change.
b)    Road sections are designed and constructed by governmental agencies and contractors, without adequate consultations with all stakeholders. This area can and should be remedied immediately.
c)     Safety and security of all road users is of equal importance.
d)    Continued Maintenance of roads, signage, and pedestrian related utilities is as important as the initial planning and execution of a project.
e)     Assessments of shift in road usage patterns must be carried out periodically, as they impinge upon safety of all road users

Corruption : Persons, Practices & System


     “The only way to rid the country of corruption is to hang a few of you from the lamp post. The law does not permit us to do it but otherwise we would prefer to hang people like you from the lamp post,” said a bench of justices S. B. Sinha and Markandeya Katju said while hearing the bail petition of an accused in the Rs. 1,000/- crore fodder scam.  –  HT date 08.03.2007.

     There is no denial of the fact that corruption in India is all pervasive. There is no activity in public domain which is totally free from this malaise. Corruption is getting worse, and one hears about sordid tales of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power everyday. Existence of corruption implies that there are corrupt persons, corrupt practices, and there is a corrupt system. All the three have to be fought simultaneously to eliminate the vice of corruption.  

     A large number of our countrymen think that corruption cannot be eliminated in India – at least not in their lifetime but corruption can be curbed significantly by establishing dedicated, strong, well equipped anti-corruption agencies which will prevent not only violations of law but also prevent corruption and conflict of interests by ensuring better implementation of duties and responsibilities. For sustained reduction of corruption, wider involvement of the civil society is a must if we are to see tangible improvements in a finite time frame.

     The edifice of Good Governance according to Transparency International is supported by elements of Legislature, Judiciary, and Beuracracy including Police and the administrators, and the civil society. Judiciary for all its high sounding pronouncements cannot escape blame for the present conditions prevalent in the society. Apathy on the part of Civil Society is not conducive to the improvement of  existing conditions.

     Good and responsive governance assumes greater significance for being the anti-thesis of corruption Let us, as concerned members of Civil Society, show our determination and commitment; let us join hands for promotion of responsive governance.

           J. R. Lal

Babus work for Chaos


Trade, Traffic or Pensions, Babudom Contributes to Chaos 

            AUS delegation was reportedly surprised that nobody in New Delhi could tell them the rates of customs duty on various items. What is as surprising is that all tariff rates are put up on the website of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, but no babu thought of pointing that out. These rates would have to be read with the latest set of exemption notifications, also available on the website, but babus work too little to be able to impart such elementary information.  

          They are best at obfuscating rules by making arbitrary interpretations, acts which point to their shoddiness rather than competence. Take the case of service tax on goods transport. A bunch of New Delhi bureaucrats suddenly decided that consumers of transport services should be denied the benefit of Cenvat credit, which would allow them to offset tax on inputs against tax on output. Thousands of notices have been issued all over the country to recover such credits and penalise consumers of transport services. So the consumer pays the service tax without receiving any input credit.  

          In another instance of arbitrariness, the government decided to take away from pensioners what it promised to them in the first place. It accepted the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, which tried to bring about parity between pre-96 and post-96 pensioners. After paying higher pensions for the next few years, a ‘clarification’ from the department of pensions altered the criteria and robbed a few thousand pensioners of some benefits with retrospective effect. This led to confusion and litigation, all of which could have been avoided if the bureaucracy had worked out the norms to begin with. In both the service tax and pension episodes, the bureaucracy sought to take away through administrative ‘circulars’ what the legislature or cabinet had accepted.  

          Indians have to put up with unnecessary, complicated laws and equally arcane interpretations. Rules and laws, many of them poorly conceived and drafted, are seen as an answer to every problem.

           A Bill on maintenance of aged parents, which has been tabled in Parliament, provides that the offspring who fail in his duty will be imprisoned. What happens to the aged parents?  

         While the state adopts a rules-based approach to everything, the people too invite laws upon themselves, thanks to the absence of a culture of voluntary compliance.       

      The stiff traffic penalties announced recently by the Delhi high court are a case in point — they might not have come into force had road users been more disciplined to begin with.

      Both the state and citizen share an uneasy relationship with the world of rules. 

          The latter cannot respect rule of law but loves to fight over rules in court, while the former creates a clutter of rules to perpetuate its importance. The two make for a strange jugalbandi. 

TOI  12 April 07

ZOOLUM


ZOOLUM

     The Oxford dictionary describes Zoolum as oppression.

   In India today it carries a wider connotation. We understand it as denial  of legitimate rights of individuals, suppression of any voice raised claiming a rightful place in the society, cruelty bordering on the extreme, oppression of the weak by the strong, delays and corruption in making avilable rightful dues, forceful  deprivation of basic nessecities of life especially by the minions of the government excercising unlawful authority over a weak and helpless populace.

     Legalities, dogma  and fine words can never be a cover for Zoolum.

A human tragedy.


The Dispalced families of Hirakud Dam :  

 26,501 families in 249 villages were displaced when the dam was built in 1957. 50,000 people without land were forcibly evicted.According to a government report 2043 cases are still pending with the district administrations of Jarsuguda, Sambalpur Bargarh and Sonepur. Many became paupers and perished. 

The Government of Orissa is yet to compensate Nearly 10,000 persons.  

The district administration has ‘written to the state government to release more funds…’ 

Hirakud Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti if fighting the cause of the dam oustees.  

Extracts from TOI 05 April 07 article by Priya Ranjan Sahu.

Good Governance


Good News for Good Governance 

   New Delhi: In his second stint at Raj Bhavan, Delhi’s new lieutenant governor (L-G), Tejendra Khanna, plans to start a 24-hour control room to take care of citizens’ grievances. Giving a peaceful life to citizens is the first priority, he said.  

      Mr Khanna, a 1961 batch IAS officer, announced this soon after he was sworn in on Thursday by the chief justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice Mukundakam Sharma. A similar control room had functioned from the Raj Bhavan during Khanna’s earlier stint in 1997-98.    

 Appealing to citizens to abide by the law and promising a severe crackdown in case of any violations, he said: ‘‘Any citizen with any kind of grievance can approach the control room whose primary objective will be to give justice to the people… It is necessary for any government to be people friendly and even the man on the road in his humble chappals should get the benefit of the services.’’      

Asked about the problems posed by the multiplicity of authorities in
Delhi, he said: ‘‘In view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, it is imperative that all authorities work together to give the country global recognition. All projects need to be completed in a time-bound manner. An empowered group will be formed to ensure better coordination for implementation of critical projects.’’

   This, he added, is an ‘‘agenda for hope’’.  Eight resource personnel groups would be formed to ensure that people have a say in critical policy issues like public health, law and order and tourism.     A real estate commission would be set up to keep digital land records put together through ground and aerial surveys and also to crack down on any kind of violation of construction laws or misuse of land. The latter would also be looked into by a committee of experts. 

       Mr Khanna had earlier headed a committee that looked into violation of building bylaws in the capital. Many suggestions of the committee went on to be included in the MPD 2021.    

toireporter@timesgroup.com