Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
459 Public Information Officers in Maharashtra penalised Rs45 lakh in 2011

RTI applications have jumped by a lakh in Maharashtra compared to 2010 with the urban development department receiving the highest number of applications, according to the 6th annual report of Maharashtra State Information Commission

The sixth annual report of the Maharashtra State Information Commission, portraying the scenario of the Right to Information (RTI) activities in Maharashtra is out and Moneylife has procured a copy of the same. The picture is indeed hunk- dory in this 111 page report as against the ground reality where the RTI movement in Maharashtra has suffered immensely due to state government’s neglect in appointing the full quorum of information commissioners and reluctance to provide full-fledged staff to the information commissions for the smooth and efficient disposal of second appeals.

That the citizens of Maharashtra continue to be enthusiastic about using RTI is expressed through the 6,45,023 RTI applications which were filed in 2011 alone. Out of these, 6,07,057 were disposed off. There has been an increase in filing RTI applications by nearly 1 lakh as compared to 2010 when 5,48,987 application were filed. Ever since the implementation of the RTI Act in 2005, Maharashtra has seen a six-fold increase in RTI applications. In 2006 the RTI applications number 1,23,000.

Clearly, the issue of unbridled and “illegal” development in terms of urban constructions weighs heavily on peoples’ minds. This has been reflected in the highest number of RTI applications having been received by the urban development department in 2011— a whopping 1,89,01 lakh applications. This is followed by the revenue department (land scams, land title records, etc that affect thousands of people) which received 92,009 applications. This is followed by the home department: 58,655 RTI applications; rural development: 49,647 and law and judiciary: 42,850. Other departments which received applications between 18,000 and 28,000 are home department; building department; co-operative, marketing and textile department; industrial, energy and labour department and; school education and sports department.

It was a dismal state of affairs with several posts of information commissioners having remained vacant (still vacant) and additional responsibility given to the existing ones. The annual report notes that despite this paucity, 16,211 decisions were given out of the 22,339 second appeals all the state information commissions put together. The report adds: “In 2010, the number of second appeals was 17,266 and despite there being a dearth of information commissioners, it is satisfying to note that decisions were made on 16,211 second appeals.” The state chief information commission’s office in the Mantralaya received 5,653 complaints out of which 4,436 complaints were solved.

Vijay Kumbhar, a leading RTI activist, counters the hunk- dory picture painted by the state information commission in the annual report. He says that, “penalty has been imposed on 459 PIOs (public information officers) but what action has the information commission done to ensure the recovery of the nearly Rs45 lakh penalty? What about the second appeals that have not been disposed off? Maharashtra, which is on the brink of collapse as far as RTI is concerned, is not reflected in the annual report.”

Table 1
No of RTI applications filed over the last six years

2006 – 1,23,000
2007 – 3,16,00
2008 – 4,16,090
2009 – 4,40,728
2010 – 5,48,987
2011 – 6,45,023
Total – 24,89,828

Table 2:
Major departments which received RTI applications:

Urban development: 1,89,017
Revenue and forest: 92,009
Home:                          58,655
Rural and irrigation: 49,647
Law and judiciary:     42,850
Housing development: 25,686
General building: 22,830
Co-operative, marketing and textile: 18,968
Industrial, energy and labour: 18,727
School education and sports: 18,462

Table 3:
Not happy with first appeal and therefore filed second appeal:

Pending from previous years: 12,866
Second appeals of 2011: 22,339
Total complaints: 35,205
Disposed off in 2011: 16,211

Unhappy with the PIO and therefore filed second appeal:
Pending from previous years: 2671
Second appeals of 2011: 5656
Total complaints: 8326
Disposed off in 2011: 4436

Penalty imposed on PIOs at State Information commissions

No of PIOs penalised: 459
Amount of penalty imposed: Rs44,42, 750

(Vinita Deshmukh is the editor of Life 365 ( She is also the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])




5 years ago

What about CBDT and its field offices? Or, the MCD or the Delhi Admn., the DDA or the Police all over the country or the West Bengal govt. as a whole? The bureaucrats in India are hardly bothered about RTI and the top bosses couldn't care less. RTI is indeed a non starter.

Anupam Saraph

5 years ago

This is a poor reflection of governance and transparency.

The fact that 6.5 lakh requests for information under RTI in 2011 reflects complete absence of RIGHT to information where information should be available automatically.

Only 3.5% filed an appeal. If the system does accede to the request for information under RTI it is surprising that a whopping 25% went in for a second appeal. It is shocking that ONLY in 10% cases the PIO's were penalized for refusing information.

Interestingly there is no statistic about appeals disposed WITHOUT hearing. This has been large in the case of Pune. It would be well to audit the performance of the machinery to deliver the RIGHT to information and provide natural justice.

There is no statistic on information requested about public issues (which should become part of the governments web site once it is realized that this information is requested by the people) and information requested about individual transactions with the government (which should automatically be provided to each individual in their transaction of similar nature in the future).

The report clearly has no desire to deliver the RIGHT to information but simply aims to propagate the myth of delivering RTI.

Indian fliers attract the novelty value

Lufthansa and Japan Airways are putting up their newest planes on Indian routes. The media talks about how this is to ‘woo’ the Indian flyer. The truth lies elsewhere


The Boeing 787 Dreamliner project has been of personal interest to me, because it was the first one in a long time that an airline company was innovating on a lot of fronts together. In spite of the fact that Boeing took almost three years longer than the original plan for the delivery of the plane, it couldn’t have come at a better time, with jet fuel being at an all time high. The Boeing 787 delivers 15%-20% fuel efficiency as compared to similar aircraft, and is the world’s first composite-built aircraft, which means it is lighter than the traditional aluminium-built aircraft. 

While Air India is in the process of securing its 27 Dreamliners on order, and will finally get four of them from May 2012 onwards, Japan Airlines has already put the 787 on service from 1 May 2012 on its only flight from India (Delhi-Tokyo). Although I haven’t personally travelled on this plane yet, fliers on JAL’s 787s have reported all things good about this. 

But JAL brought this new plane to India for a purely a business-driven reason. They’ve had an about 70% occupancy ratio on this route over the years when operated on a larger plane, and with the 787, for the first time, they have been able to get a plane which can fly for eight  hours with about enough seats to fly the plane full. Not to forget, the fuel efficiency helps as well to trim costs. Till before 1 May, they would fly the Boeing 777 to India, which would have excess seating than required, and is a fuel guzzler by 787 standards.  The fuel-cost reduction can be the competitive advantage in today’s aviation era, as airlines go far and wide to get this impact. USA-based Delta Airlines has just bought an oil-refinery, to try and reduce its fuel cost by refining it in-house, so you can imagine how much innovative thinking is happening out there.  

On the other hand, Lufthansa has announced that it will bring the new Boeing 747-8 to India in a couple of months. The 747 is one of the biggest planes out there, with the Airbus A380 perhaps being the only bigger plane as of date. Lufthansa has been flying the famous San Francisco –Bangalore (via Frankfurt) route for over a decade now, which is often called “Bangalore Express” by the frequent flyers, offering networking opportunities 30,000 feet up in the air. The flight is usually sold out, day after day, and Lufthansa naturally feels the need for a bigger plane.

Their request for flying the Airbus A380s to India has been continuously denied by the Government of India (along with that of Emirates). This is evidently to protect the local Indian airlines, since some prominent international carriers manage to attract a lot of Indian traffic for travel to Europe and North America. For Lufthansa, India is the second largest market after the United States of America, and this delay leaves it with the only other option, to fly the new Boeing 747-800 planes, which are permitted under the current bilateral agreement between both the governments, to expand its capacity to India. The new variant of the 747 planes gives them an additional 10% capacity increase, and should hold good till the time the government changes its view about the A380. 

So, the next time you hear that an international airline is deploying a cutting-edge plane for its Indian operations, don’t be surprised. Think of it as a business-decision rather than a marketing gimmick to attract more travellers. 

AJ writes a travel and aviation focussed blog from India at You can follow him at @livefromalounge on Twitter.



Manufacturing growth inches up in April: HSBC PMI

“Activity in the manufacturing sector expanded at a slightly faster pace in April. While output growth moderated, partly on the back of power outages, new orders continued to pour in, including for exports,” said Leif Eskesen, HSBC chief economist for India and ASEAN

New Delhi: After three months of decline, India’s manufacturing sector grew slightly in April as new orders poured in, but the rate of expansion was limited by power shortages and was weakest so far this year, an HSBC survey said.

The HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)—a measure of factory production—inched up to 54.9 in April, from 54.7 in March, report PTI.

A reading above 50 shows that the sector is growing, while a reading below 50 means the segment is contracting.

India’s manufacturing sector has witnessed an uptrend after falling for three months.

“Activity in the manufacturing sector expanded at a slightly faster pace in April. While output growth moderated, partly on the back of power outages, new orders continued to pour in, including for exports,” said Leif Eskesen, HSBC chief economist for India and ASEAN.

The report further noted that although manufacturing output increased, the rate of expansion slowed fractionally, and was the weakest in 2012 so far.

The survey respondents indicated that higher new orders had led to the rise in output, but power cuts had prevented firms from increasing production at a faster rate.

Capacity remained tight for the manufacturing sector in India during April as backlogs of work increased and inflationary pressures strengthened owing to rise in both output and input prices, HSBC said.

“This suggests that upside risks to inflation remain and that the RBI's rate cut could turn out to have been premature and too aggressive,” Mr Eskesen added.

In its annual monetary policy statement for 2012-13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), after a gap of three years, had cut interest rate by 0.50% making credit cheaper.

RBI had hiked policy rates 13 times between March 2010 and October 2011 to control persistently high inflation.

Meanwhile, there was a modest increase in employment in the manufacturing sector in April.

“The latest increase in staffing levels was only modest.

Where job creation was recorded, this was mainly linked to higher workloads,” HSBC said.


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