Citizens' Issues
CAG says MMRDA awarded works without availability of clear sites

In a report, the CAG said MMRDA even failed to follow manual provisions and tender conditions resulting in extra expenditure on a number of works


The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) awarded works without availability of clear sites, leading to their foreclosure.

 

The CAG report was tabled in the Maharashtra Legislature on Saturday, the last day of the monsoon session.

 

MMRDA initiated a project called the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project at an estimated cost of Rs2,647 crore, with the objective of improving the road network for efficient traffic dispersal in Greater Mumbai. The project was approved by the Maharashtra government in November 2003, for completion by November 2006, the report said.

 

But the performance audit of the project for 2008-09 to 2012-13 revealed that only 38 of the 157 items of work were taken up for execution as of November 2013, for which an expenditure of Rs3,736 crore was incurred, a jump of 41% over the sanctioned budget of Rs2,647 crore.

 

Works were awarded without availability of clear sites, leading to foreclosure. The manual provisions and tender conditions were not followed, resulting in extra expenditure on a number of works, the report added.

 

"There were inadequacies in Project Management Consultancy agreements. Internal controls and monitoring mechanisms were lax," the report said.

 

CAG was also critical of the state government on the implementation of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).

 

"Government of India launched the National Rural Drinking Water Programme in April 2009, with the objective of providing the rural population with adequate and safe water for drinking, cooking and other basic domestic needs on a sustainable basis," the CAG report said, adding that "a performance audit of NRDWP was conducted for 2009-10 to 2012-13 in nine selected districts and 30 blocks".

 

"Audit scrutiny revealed that the village and district water security plans and five-year rolling plan were not prepared. The GoI imposed cuts on the funds released by it due to short release of matching funds by the state, under-utilisation of funds and delay in submission of annual action plans.

 

"As of April 2013, 48% of the total habitations did not have access to piped drinking water supply," it said.

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Need to create a suitable environment for elders, says report

For accessibility to be meaningful for older adults from both rural and urban areas, the elderly must be given priority in everyday activities at all publicly and privately owned utilities, says a report

India's elderly face issues ranging from a lack of quality palliative care, assisted living and inadequately equipped old-age homes besides less sensitive youth to elders' needs. There is a need for a holistic approach to creating a suitable environment for elders to live and create a public infrastructure to facilitate easier use by elders among other things says a report prepared by the India Backbone Implementation Network (IbIn) for the Planning Commission.  

According to the report, 'Aspirations for the elderly', India needs to promote accessibility through age-friendly systems and barrier-free environment. “Accessibility is a key enabler for social, cultural, and economic participation with the community at large. In the case of senior citizens, it helps to maintain essential links with friends, family and one’s neighbourhood. For accessibility to be meaningful for older adults from both rural and urban areas, the elderly must be given priority in everyday activities at all publicly and privately owned utilities in sectors such as urban transportation and mass rapid transit systems, government offices, hospitals, banks, restaurants, cinema halls and recreational centres. Assisted add-on facilities, such as separate waiting lounges provided with customer assistance staff, ramps that ease boarding and disembarking from buses, trains and aircraft, elder-friendly restrooms and walkways exclusively designed for older adults should be provided,” the report says.

The document suggests that a society whose children, youth, and young adults, together with those in middle age care for and support the dependent elderly, is alive and vital. Such societies also readily adopt barrier-free standards in living and working spaces and transportation systems. They facilitate access for the elderly to friends, family and the wider community, and strengthen instrumental ties across those age brackets.

Further, public transport operators should be encouraged to introduce low-floor buses with wheelchair accessibility. Universal design concepts should be promoted for products and environments intended for the public’s use. It points out that “Changing the attitudes of the younger generation and fostering a climate of tolerance toward the elderly through value-based education in schools and colleges are the need of the hour. These can be promoted through the inclusion of geriatric care subjects and sensitisation towards the same in NCERT, ICSE, CBSE and other curricula. Value education, along the lines of HelpAge India’s “extra-curricular” model and China’s Golden Sunshine Action Programme, can be implemented. Exposure visits to old-age homes and promoting volunteerism among school children and youth will sensitise the younger generation to the needs of the elderly”.

Sensitising families to the need to allocate quality time for children and parents and to make that time non-negotiable is one of the most effective ways to instil positive values in children. Parents should make special efforts for children to spend time with their elderly grandparents during school holidays and family functions, thereby promoting family relationships and cohesiveness.

Moreover, while talking about the dependent elderly, the report advises that political will and adequate allocation of funds for implementation and simplification of administrative processes play a pivotal role in the efficient functioning of systems and services for the dependent elderly. Putting effective systems in place would allow the elderly to enjoy considerable independence in their day-to-day lives.

“Day care centres are considered to be a culturally acceptable alternative to placing the elderly in old-age homes. They provide services for frail elderly persons who need supervised care in a safe environment during the day. Day care offers the older adult a break from monotony and boredom, and provides a platform for socialisation with peers. With such centres, supplying meals for users and engaging them in social and recreational activities, simple physical, mental exercises and spiritually nourishing activities would bring significant value addition. Transport services could be arranged to carry the elderly to and from the centres. NGOs, corporate and other social enterprises could be appropriately supported by the government to help run such centres”, recommended the report.

Adding to the concern, the document put forward the idea of encouraging various stakeholders in elder care to building synergy. It covers “A process for accrediting and capacity-building of NGOs participating in the initiative should be put in place. The benefits for accredited NGOs should include funding from central and state governments. Contributions to such NGOs made by corporate businesses and the general public must be made tax-deductible. The social sector’s involvement in promoting positive ageing should be incentivised. Under the newly mandated CSR scheme for corporates, special efforts must be made to focus on elder care. Corporate businesses should be persuaded to fund accredited NGOs and other institutions working in the area of Elder Care. Such businesses could be encouraged to conceptualise and implement innovative schemes for the care of older adults”.

Lastly, on making existing social security schemes elder-friendly the report says, “the vulnerable elderly should be included in the social mainstream transparently and on priority. The systems that operationalise this must be fair, friendly and fast and provided with innovative monitoring mechanisms to check malpractices and optimise system efficiency. These principles could be applied to improve access to housing schemes. Also, banks can be encouraged to fund inclusive parks for elders and residential estates in clusters in the rural and urban areas”.

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COMMENTS

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9 months ago

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Court summons MLA Kshitij Thakur in the cop beating case
MLA Kshitij Thakur was summoned by Dadar's Metropolitan Magistrate Court for beating up a cop last year. The Court has asked the MLA to appear before it on 17th June  

The Metropolitan Magistrate Court at Dadar has issued a summon against Khitij Thakur, member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Nala Sopara constituency near Mumbai, for allegedely beating a police officer last year. 
 
Santosh Daundkar, who had filed the complaint before the Magistrate Court, pasted the summons on Thakur's home in Virar with the help of local police.
 
Daundkar's advocate Abha Singh said, “Since Worli Police Station did not file a case, a case was filed in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, Dadar, Mumbai under the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Based on the evaluation of the credibility of information, the Court decided to issue process in the case. Thereafter, the accused MLA was summoned in the Court.
The initial summons could not be served for various reasons linked to red tape and also over the fact that it was reported by the police that the accused was abroad.”
 
MLA Thakur has been ordered to be present in the court on 17th June to hear a complaint filed by social activist Daundkar regarding the abuse and assault of Worli Traffic Branch's assistant police inspector (ASI) Sachin Suryavanshi on 19 March 2013. 
 
Last year on 18th March, Suryawanshi allegedly stopped Thakur's vehicle and fined him for speeding on the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Next day the cop was summoned in the Assembly, where Thakur and the four other MLAs allegedly assaulted Suryawanshi.
 
Thakur, the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi MLA, alongwith Ram Kadam (MNS), Rajan Salvi (Shiv Sena), Pradeep Jaiswal (Independent) and Jaykumar Raval (BJP) were also suspended in the Budget Session of the state legislature last year after beating up policeman Sachin Suryawanshi in the Vidhan Bhavan premises. Later in July 2013, the state Assembly revoked the suspension. 

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