Government getting a taste of people’s power in metros


Col Kohal & Mr Pankaj Agarwal President & Secretary respectively of Delhi RWAs Joint Front took a delegation of RWAs to the office of Mr Ajay Maken, Minister on the deteriorating conditions of Deer & District Parks & a few other issues of South Delhi.

Mr Ajay Maken & Prof Kiran Walia both visited these Parks on 28th Feb 09. I forwarded to you copy of Memorandam  which we gave to Ministers & also a few photographs covering  one & half hour visit of Ministers to these Parks.

Minister’s visit has been  covered by Ms Garima Vohra of HT Live South Delhi. Attaching the Press clipping & e-link of HT for your information please. It is understood that after the visit of Ministers, there has been momentum in the activities of DDA officials & we hope to see some good  eye soothing environment change in  these parks. Lets hope for the best.

Regards

S L Watwani

PS:  Visit of Minister was also shown by NDTV Metronation & Sahara NCR & Samay at their News Channels.

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We had sent Press Briefing to a few more Newspapers/Magazines & hope that they will also cover the news shortly.

Government getting a taste of people’s power in metros

Aparna Ramalingam | TNN

Chennai: As the country gears up for elections, a different kind of movement is making its presence felt in India. Call it neighbourhood activism, private-public partnership civic movement or urban development movement, citizens are becoming more proactive than ever before in voicing concerns on issues affecting their lives — security, water, electricity, sanitation, good roads, to name a few.

As Adolf D’ Souza of the Juhu Citizens Welfare Group in Mumbai puts it, “The participatory approach is the way forward. We can’t be solely dependent on politicians and other authorities. People are clamouring for political and judicial reforms more so after 26/11. Citizen groups need to intervene politically.” For the record, D’ Souza is also a corporator from Juhu.

Community activism is pretty aggressive in India’s capital New Delhi. Residents’ welfare associations in Delhi have locked horns time and again with the government and other agencies on numerous issues and have also been successful in some. In 2003, the associations, with support from the media, scuttled CAS (conditional access system) in Delhi as it was not citizen-friendly.

The whole aim of CAS was to bring in regulation in the television space. While the intentions seemed noble, the ground reality was different. Set-top boxes were prohibitively priced (upwards of Rs 2,500) and there were many reports of cable operators extorting huge sums money from residents under the guise of implementing CAS. But residents did not take this lying down and there was quite a bit of public outrage to this new form of viewing. CAS was eventually rolled out in Delhi after modifications in 2006-end.

Similarly, in 2005, the Delhi government was forced to completely rollback the 10% power tariff hike effected by private distribution companies on account of vociferous protests from the public. “We make it a point to raise our voice against any lapse in governance which in turn affects our lives,” says Anant Trivedi, founder member, United Residents’ Joint Action (URJA) group, a body which took up the issue of inflated power bills and faulty meters three years ago. Around 500 residents’ associations in Delhi are registered with URJA, of which 150 are active.

But all is not rosy on the public activism front. In 1999, the SM Krishna government in Karnataka had launched BATF (Bangalore Agenda Task Force), a public-private partnership model to address issues related to the crumbling infrastructure in the garden city on account of rapid urbanisation due to the IT boom.

India’s silicon valley was plagued with a variety of civic problems like traffic congestion, garbage accumulation, water and electricity shortage. BATF comprised prominent volunteers like Nandan Nilekani, the IT czar, and Ramesh Ramanathan of public governance not-for-profit institution Janaagraha. The organisation’s main objective was to closely work with various civic departments in the state to make Bangalore a better place.

Unfortunately, BATF made a premature exit after Dharam Singh came to power in Karnataka in 2004. According to observers, the top leadership in Congress felt that Krishna’s obsession with urban issues proved detrimental to the Congress in the 2004 general elections.

So the new government distanced itself from the corporate world. Bangalore now has ABIDe (Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development), a task force that is being headed by corporate czar and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

MASSMATTERS

Residents’ associations in Delhi scuttled the implementation of conditional access system in 2003

Also in Delhi, residents’ associations forced state government to withdraw 10% hike in power tariff in 2005

In Mumbai, citizens are becoming more proactive and united in security matters post 26/11

Bangalore used to have BATF (Bangalore Agenda Task Force), a publicprivate initiative, which folded up in 2004

In Chennai, citizens took to rainwater harvesting after the 2002 drought and the results are showing — there is a considerable rise in the city’s water tables

RTI: CIC happy. Judiciary will be a little more transparent now


HC aligns its RTI rules with CIC guidelines

Major Relief For Info Seekers

Abhinav Garg | TNN 


New Delhi: After drawing heavy criticism for framing RTI rules that went against the parent Act, the Delhi High Court, in a major climbdown, has amended some of the rules.

Most notably, it has done away with the requirement that RTI applicants show how they are an ‘‘affected party’’ while seeking information, a caveat forbidden by the Act.

A notification to this effect has been issued and figures on HC’s website from Thursday. The move is an attempt to allign HC’s special RTI rules with the parent Act. TOI had, in December last year, reported that a judges’ committee of HC was reviewing the rules as the Chief Justice had admitted some of the HC provisions ran contrary to the Act.

HC’s rules on information sharing have been repeatedly held to be ‘‘in direct conflict with RTI Act’’ by the Central Information Commission in its rulings.

In its amendment exercise, HC has deleted Clause 4 (IV) of RTI rules that permitted it to allow access of information only to ‘‘affected persons’’ and deny to those who don’t explain their locus on why such an information is required.

HC has also tinkered with Section 5 (A) that exempted it from revealing any information which is ‘‘not already in the public domain’’. This meant HC could deny information to a seeker on the ground it was available elsewhere, a rule frowned upon by transparency advocates.

The third key allignment lies in Rule 4 (I) that till now gave the court’s public information officer a luxury of 15-20 days to respond to an RTI plea, which sought information beyond his jurisdiction. He has to now inform the applicant within five days and return the plea.

The CIC had repeatedly taken a dim view of these sections. Speaking to Times City, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah welcomed the move. ‘‘I have been adjourning cases related to Delhi HC because we were waiting for the rules to be brought in allignment with the RTI Act, as had been promised. This is heartening news,’’ the CIC said.

KEY CHANGES

‘Affected Party’ clause done away with. An RTI applicant will now not be required to show how info sought affects him

‘Public Domain’ clause removed.

HC will now have to also furnish info that is not available elsewhere

In case info sought is not in court’s jurisdiction but pertains to other authorities, PIO to respond within 5 days

Holi: Wishing All A Happy & Colorful Holi


happy-holi.jpg

Watwani sends you the following message.

Let us join in and wish each other.

May God Splash

COLORS

of Success &       Prosperity over

You & Your Family.