RTI:Gujarat:One-man crusade against bad governance

One-man crusade against bad governance

Vijaysinh Parmar | TNN

Junagadh: Here is one crusader, who considers o t h e r ’s problems his own. Q u i e t ly but diligently using RTI as a tool, JP Shah, 59, a re t i re d bank manager, has helped hundreds across the country get their rights.

Be it widows not getting their dues, pensioners who have been struggling for many years, educated unemployed youths waiting for jobs in government departments, senior citizens and people who are struggling with various government departments — his list has endless success stories.

Shah’s weapon is his computer and his phone that are live every hour in the day. He could be reached by phone calls, emails, blog posts and letters and he promptly replies to them too. Shah tags a line in all his letters, “Hate RTI and perpetuate bad governance for the next generation.”

When TOI went visiting Shah’s home four days back, a certain Geetha Kumari of Kerala was on line. Kumari complained that she had four children to feed, but was not getting her family pension after her husband died in 2007. Her husband was an employee of Food Corporation of India (FCI). Shah immediately emailed an RTI application to her. In just few days, Kumari’s file was recommended for pension disbursal.

Chandrika Thakar from Junagadh lost her husband to illness in 2003. It came as a big blow to this 40-year-old widow, who had also lost all hope of getting back her husband’s 16-year-old Rs 2.29 lakh fixed deposit. Shah helped her file an RTI application and she got her fixed deposit with an 11-year interest in a few months.

Shah’s blogs and articles have had 1.4 lakh hits in the last two years. He has already guided 5,000 persons from all over the country on matters of RTI. Interestingly, Provident Fund status,income tax return and Provident Fund refund gets maximum hits. Two years ago, Administrative Staff College of Assam had invited Shah’s suggestions on RTI training for their personnel.

People from Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram, Chandigarh, Ambala, Phagwara,Ujjain,Mumbai,Udaipur, Byawar, Bengaluru, Delhi, Noida, Agra, Ghaziabad and Rajamundry are in regular touch with Shah.“Iwould not have lived had JP Shah not helped us. His help came at a crucial juncture in our life.I had lost everything.But, Shah gave us hope,”says Thakar.

“JP Shah has been guiding force for many like me. He helped me tirelessly fight the charity commissioner to get permission to non-CA to audit the trust whose income is up to Rs 3, 000 per year. Now, this has helped numbers of youths in the state,” says Rakesh Shah, a resident of Junagadh.

“For the first time since Independence, an ordinary Indian feels empowered, thanks to RTI. I wish everybody feels the same,” says Shah.

J P Shah

BRT in Delhi:Worsening Mess

No amount of public outcry, suffering and  deaths seem to have any effect on the Delhi Government, run by Shiela Dixit, who otherwise has a positive image.

The Lieut Governor Tejinder Khanna has not been able to stop the worsening mess, which is spiralling out of control with another segment (Defence colony)  being   being added to the already existing chaotic Chirag Dilli segment.

BRT crawl: 1km in 30 minutes

Corridor Gets More Chaotic At Chirag Dilli Crossing, But No Relief In Sight


New Delhi: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) continues to be a dreaded word for Delhiites. A good two years after trial runs were started on the pilot corridor, commuters still take 20-30 minutes to cross the brief stretch of about 1 km between Chirag Dilli and Pushp Vihar crossings. With four malls and multiplexes, three major hospitals, a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) sports complex and a proposed district court, the volume of traffic coming onto BRT from Press Enclave Road is only going to increase, aggravating the jams.

Even as the jams persist, none of the solutions promised to decongest the stretch, including a clover leaf flyover at Chirag Dilli, intelligent signalling, parking lots, foot overbridges and road widening has happened on ground. The result: Those who commute in private vehicles continue to have a harrowing experience.

‘‘Even on Sundays when all the roads are empty, there is a jam on the Chirag Dilli crossing on BRT. I take anything between 20-30 minutes to cross this stretch. This has only become worse with the malls opening in Saket,’’ said Prerna Gandhi, a resident of Amar Colony.

What makes it worse is that a majority of south Delhi residents depend on hospitals on Press Enclave Road for healthcare. With the only access to the stretch provided through this part of BRT, reaching a hospital has also become a pain.

‘‘There aren’t any big hospitals in the area apart from Moolchand, which is always crowded. But reaching any of the hospitals on Press Enclave Road is a huge pain. I was taking my father there for a checkup and ended up spending a good 35 minutes just to cover the 2-3 km stretch,’’ said Amit Dhingra, a resident of Greater Kailash-II.

Commuters feel it is even more frustrating to see an empty bus lane on the side, even as the entire road, cycle track and even footpath are bursting at their seams with vehicles and pedestrians.
‘‘Every morning, there are bikes on the cycle lane, forcing cyclists onto the footpaths and people like us have no space to walk. I have to brave all the traffic just to reach the Chirag Dilli bus stop everyday,’’ said Shekhar Jain, a resident of Shiekh Sarai.

Added businessman Hitesh Sharma: ‘‘The BRT is a nuisance. I travel to Pushp Vihar frequently, and the morning traffic here crawls, literally. If a car breaks down or there is a minor accident, that means chaos. Even the footpaths are taken over by vehicles.’’ The solutions to the jams between Chirag Dilli and Pushp Vihar crossings, which were proposed by the government when lane segregation was enforced on the corridor two years ago, are yet to see the light of day.

Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMMTS), which is operating the corridor, was supposed to put up intelligent signals to bring down waiting time at the Chirag Dilli crossing. But the project was recently approved and installation has just begun.

The other solution, construction of a grade separator at Chirag Dilli to reduce waiting time, i still in the planning stage. According to officials, the location and final design have been finalised and submitted to Delhi Development Authority (DDA)’s technical committee for approval. But there are no plans to start construction anytime soon.

In a desperate bid to make BRT work, the government had proposed construction of parking lots where people can leave their cars and use BRT and foot overbridges in the corridor. But even these are not ready for use. ‘‘As for now, it has been put on the backburner till the Commonwealth Games. The unofficial direction seemingly is to maintain status quo on the corridor,’’ said a senior official, who pleaded anonymity.