Though information was procured instantly from NHAI regarding action after the Neera River deaths, the officer insisted on writing an application under Section 6 of the RTI Act
The unique part of Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch’s agitation on Wednesday morning was inspection of files under Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch held a demonstration in front of the NHAI office before procuring documents under RTI. Nav Bharat members DVR Rao, Commander Ravindra Pathak (retd), Raja Narsimhan, Mahesh Tele, Omkar Virkar, Dhananjay Oval, Akash Jadhav, Mrs Sonawane, Hrushikesh Patankar and Prashant Salunke held the demonstrations.
We wanted to procure following documents after the horrendous Neera River bridge tragedy of 2nd November, which killed four young ad professionals from Pune after their car plunged into the river in the absence of a crash barrier at the tip of the bridge:
1. Correspondence between NHAI and Reliance Infra (or whatever are the names of the sub contractors) regarding action on the repair of the Neera River bridge after submission of the Inspection Report of Neera Tragedy by your Safety Consultants, sometime last week.
2. Correspondence between NHAI, Pune and the central authority of NHAI/Union Ministry of surface, road and transport, regarding repair of the Neera Bridge to make it safe, post the November 2 tragedy.
3. Correspondence of the last one year, from NHAI Pune office to Reliance Infra pertaining to the condition of the highway road constructed by Reliance Infra in the 300 km odd Maharashtra portion of the stretch of the Mumbai-Bangalore highway
4. Photographs taken out by NHAI regarding the condition of the Maharashtra stretch of the Mumbai-Bangalore stretch which is under operation, maintenance and security of Reliance Infra
5. Documents pertaining to action taken by NHAI against Reliance Infra in the past one year for shoddy work.
6. Unlike Section 6 of the RTI Act, where you need to write a formal application and pay Rs10 in cash or through IPO for a central government office, no formal application is required to inspect files under Section 4.
7. Yet, this writer sent a previous intimation to Rajesh Kaundal, Project Director, NHAI stating: “I wish to bring to your notice that a citizen desiring to inspect the documents containing information covered under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, need not make any formal requisition under Section 6 of the Act because these documents should have already been published by the public authority so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’'
8. The contract given to Reliance Infra is clearly covered under `permits and authorisations' and hence is covered under Section 4. I intend to exercise my right as a citizen to inspect these documents in your office with my colleagues during our peaceful protest today at your office between 11 am and 1 p m. Please note that it is not necessary for me under the Act to give such notice before inspection of documents covered under Section 4 of the Act. However, being a responsible citizen, I thought it appropriate to intimate you beforehand.’’
Despite this, Mr Kaundal replied to my email request stating: “Section 4 (1)(b) is designed to ensure that public authorities disclose certain information which are important to the public voluntarily at every level of operation. Please log on to www.nhai.org for the information published by NHAI.”
“For any other information requested in specific, it is requested to submit application to PIO with requisite fee so that the same can be made available to you within the stipulated time period including inspection of the documents for extraction of the information if required by you. In case of any difference of opinion, it is requested to contact CPIO on the following address:- VS Darbari, GM (Coord) & CPIO, National Highways Authority of India, No.G-5 & 6, Sector – 10, Dwarka, New Delhi – 110 075.Contact No.011-25074100 (Extn : 1520). Email : [email protected].’’
The writer wrote back stating: “The information I have asked for comes under Section 4 of the RTI Act. However, it is not put up on your website, as far as I searched. In the absence, of you not having uploaded it in the public domain, that is uploaded on www.nhai.org, I, as a citizen, is allowed physical inspection of files in your office.’’
However, no amount of explanation convinced Mr Kaundal, when this writer met him in the office. He insisted that I file an application under Section 6 of the RTI Act and he has no problem about providing me information immediately. Since he assured me of immediate inspection of files, I relented. However, I am filing a complaint to the Information commissioner today, for not providing me information under Section 4.
It is so exasperating that, even after seven years of the implementation of the RTI Act, neither do most public authorities suo motu upload information under Section 4 on their respective websites and hesitate to allow physical inspection of files by citizens.
Amongst the several documents I procured, the following one is very worrying, as the contractor now says all major bridges from Dehu Road to Satara need crash barriers for safety but insists that the NHAI must pay for the repairs. And therein lies the ping-pong game of NHAI Pune sending this request to the Delhi office.
The details are as follows:
PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd, the subsidiary agency of Reliance Infra has sent a letter to Project Director, NHAI on 25th November, stating that raising and strengthening of the Median wall (wall in between the two bridges) to the height of the crash barrier, is required for all the six major bridges between Dehu Road and Satara and not only for the Neera River bridge. This was revealed through the documents procured under RTI Act by Vinita Deshmukh and other members of Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch, from the NHAI office at Warje.
The major bridges which need urgent repairs, in the light of the terrible tragedy of 2nd November, where four ad professionals died, have been identified by the contractor as Pawana Bridge, Mula Bridge, Mutha Bridge, Krishna River Bridge, Venna River Bridge and Neera River Bridge. Repairs have also been recommended for a series of culverts and small bridges.
The letter written by Nagendra Rai, officer of the PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd to Mr Kaundal, admits that all the major bridges and some of the culverts are ‘unsafe’ for commuters. The letter states, “you are aware that gap between all existing minor/major bridges and slab culvert is not properly closed by cras barrier or extending medial wall up to the level of crash barrier and same is leading to unsafe situation for the traffic.”
Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch is shocked that there is no urgency shown regarding the repair of the Neera Bridge despite the most horrendous tragedy earlier this month.
Instead, the NHAI Pune has washed its hands up stating that such a decision can be taken only by the Delhi office of NHAI. The reason being the statement in the letter in which Rai states, “As per schedule B of Concession Agreement, no scope is defined for improvement/strengthening of the median walls for all existing major/minor bridges and slab culverts.”
This in effect means, that the Reliance Infra’s subsidiary agency, PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd, is asking NHAI to provide the funds. NHAI Pune in turn says they are not the authority and so the letter has been sent to Delhi.
In the end, Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch is appalled that the final victims are citizens. It has begun the process of procuring documents under RTI to file a public interest litigation (PIL).
(Vinita Deshmukh is 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 and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
Shoma Chaudhury, managing editor of Tehelka, resigned after nearly eight days since the magazine's editor Tarun Tejpal stepped down following allegations of sexual assault
Shoma Chaudhary, who was under fire for the way she handled a junior colleague’s sexual harassment charge against Telekla editor Tarun Tejpal, on Thursday resigned as managing editor of the magazine.
Chaudhary, in a letter addressed to the employees of Tehelka, said, “Over the past week, I have been accused of an attempt to "cover-up" and for not standing by my feminist positions. While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind. As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague's account precedence over everything else. However, despite this, as a result of what's transpired over the past few days my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognizance of this”.
Her resignation came after six other senior journalists quit the magazine after the alleged sexual assault came to light. Writers including Jay Mazoomdaar, Ayesha Siddiqa, Revati Laul and Rana Ayyub put in their papers following the incident.
Just yesterday, Chaudhary, in a statement had rejected the charge of her being involved in "slander, intimidation or character assassination" of the complainant of the alleged sexual assault by the Tehelka’s editor Tejpal and termed it a "malicious campaign".
She said, “I strongly reject the allegations in the media that I am involved in any manner with any slander, intimidation or character assassination of the complainant journalist. This is a malicious campaign that has no basis in truth”.
The Tehelka journalist, who had accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her, had in her resignation letter accused him and Chaudhury of a “cover-up” and resorting to “tactics of intimidation, character assassination and slander".
Equality should be manifested in absolute terms and not be choice based. Everything should not be availed of by playing the victim card and one must stand for the choices one makes - be it a man or a woman
Tarun Tejpal's case has brought to light the often unspoken world of murky sexual liasons in corporate circuits. I am not commenting on the developments in this case, where the law shall take its course. But I read this article with advice for men on how to deal with women (http://m.ibnlive.com/news/some-openly-feminist-advice-to-men-on-how-to-deal-with-women/436211-3.html ) and I thought it's time for someone to speak up in this highly feminists dominated media and political atmosphere. I am actually compelled to thrash the hypocrisy of this attitude.
After reading comments from few readers, I am moved to clarify my stand on the Tejpal issue. I salute the woman who has dared to question a person with as much clout as he has. I have no doubt that she is telling the truth. Though the cause I have taken up makes me believe very little of what women say, there is no reason for this woman to lie. Moreover, her statement that she wants to fight to save other women from this kind of torture makes me respect her even more. She is not like those cowardly women who first file cases, then take money to settle the case and move on. And, the way most eminent feminists are behaving in this case exposes the farce of what they preach.
To begin with, I am all for women’s empowerment and I strongly believe that women need to stand shoulder to shoulder with men in every strata of society. But equality should be manifested in absolute terms and not choice based. Everything should not be availed of by playing the victim card and one must stand for the choices one makes—be it a man or a woman.
I have worked in the corporate world for couple of years including media and have been privy to a lot of conversations that often don't go public because of the mere fact that it’s not considered right to talk bad about a woman. Yes, no one has the right to do character assassination of anyone but I wouldn't hesitate to say, characters of men are assassinated perhaps more than women. Women are themselves victim to perks and promotions given to other women because of reasons that can very well be understood by any adult.
Affairs, flings, drunken banters, one night stands, selective promotions, undue adulation, flirting - we see them day and night in offices. Married men with single women, married women with single men—offices are replete with stories like these flying around. I am not morally questioning anyone's behaviour here. Every individual has the right to do whatever they wish to do in their life. But I think it's high time that the educated, empowered and liberated women of India, stand up for the choices they make in life. I mean, for how long can you keep blaming the society, the surroundings, and the circumstances for your behaviour? If you dare to take a risk (neither all men nor all women in this world are saints), you must understand the fallouts that are possible of that risk. If you call sexual advances by a man as assault then undue advances by a woman should also be called assault on the dignity of a man. But as this article proves, women of today want to do whatever they want to and then blame everyone else for it!
I am flabbergasted seeing rape cases with charges like rape on pretext of marriage after relationship of three years, four years, five years.....
I mean how insane is that? How can you keep on having physical relationship with a person for years if you have an iota of doubt that the person will not marry you? And if marriage was that sacred an institution for you to have sex, then go get married first and then get intimate. Girls are running away with boys on their own wish and parents are filing rape cases. What is happening here? (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-28/delhi/40848274_1_false-cases-false-allegation-anita)
Anyways, to keep it short, here is my advice to young, carefree, party freak women of India, smitten by the feminists 'your body your choice' and 'your body your no responsibility' campaign…
1. Please don't use your gender as a trump card whenever you wish to use it that way.
2. Alcohol doesn't affect only your mind and your actions, it does to the other gender also. Drink safe and be safe. But please don't cry rape after you realise that you went too overboard.
3. Being physical with someone is entirely your choice. If you think sex is being used, then better don't get used and then cry later.
4. STOP using men for every need of yours, hurt them emotionally and then say sorry. They are not tissue papers. They are human beings too. Yes, they can't file a rape case on you if you dump them, but please don't cry rape just because you have the option to do so.
5. Stop LYING and then cry crocodile tears to hide your deeds. If you have made a choice of living the life the way you want, then don't be apologetic about it and run from it when discovered. Have guts to be what you are! Have multiple partners? Allow your man to have it too...don't call it violence then. AND PLEASE marriages are not a license to have EMA (extramarital affairs). Don't get married if you want to have several sex partners.
6. Begin your rebellion from your own homes, and stop fantasising a world full of roses in your in-laws home. Those parents are also born, brought up and fed with the same principles as your own father and mother. If you call your mother in law cruel for not allowing you to go for late night parties, then call your mother cruel first, to whom you always lied while going to the late night parties. Dun wanna get married? Tell your parents. Dun wanna live in a joint family? Tell before you get married. Can't manage a home, be upfront. But be Honest.
7. PLEASE STOP SETTLING CASES IN EXCHANGE OF MONEY. I mean that's RIDICULOUS. Justice can't be done with compromises if you are fighting a real criminal. STOP THIS LEGAL EXTORTION.
8. A man's NO also means a NO. Don’t feel hurt and go around and call him a womaniser since he did not like you.
9. Don't feel bad if you are decked up so well and no man is looking at you. After all you are asking men to refrain from looking at girls.
10. You give Respect. You earn Respect. You don't get respect for just being a woman.
11. Men want to live their life their own way as well. Stop trying to change them for what you want them to be. They are human beings. Not dogs that you can tame them the way you want. And file CRIMINAL charges on them when they don't adhere to your ridiculous demands.
12. STOP GIVING DOWRY. Ask your share from your father's property, that's your first RIGHT.
13. Rights come with responsibilities. If MEN would stop taking all the responsibilities that you tag as privilege for them, then no one but you will suffer the most.
14. If women value generosity in a man, than Men also value decency and generosity in a woman. You can't go and shout on a man to vacate a seat just because you are a woman.
15. Don't take Men for granted. They are extremely good and caring as long as they are not deeply hurt. Think about the sacrifices your brother and father have made since you were a toddler. Be thoughtful about them and don't blame them for everything.
16. Don't think the entire world is full of good people. Your SAFETY is your RESPONSIBILITY first.
17. Men and women are differently equal. Don't try to make a man a woman and a woman a man. Appreciate the similarities and accept the differences. Nature has made us the way we are for a reason.
18. "My Body My Choice", His Body My choice. His life My choice. His money My choice. His freedom My choice. His mannerisms My choice. His family My Choice. His decisions My Choice - Stop these double standards and then say this is a patriarchal society.
19. Know when he needs your emotional support and stop ridiculing him for being what he is. We all face failures. Don't punish them for failing in life.
20. Last but not least, A FALSE CASE destroys families, lives, career, soul and everything. It's nothing less than a rape. Please don't legally rape men, just because you are privileged to do so!
Disclaimer: I am not a person infected with patriarchal thoughts, if any of you feminists reading this article would want to keep me in that bracket. I call a spade a spade. I don’t play the gender cards. I don’t cry equality first and then suddenly define the rules for others to LIVE. For anyone who is reading this, it would be worthwhile to see the state of 'FALSE' rape cases being filed in India: https://www.facebook.com/notes/deepika-narayan-bhardwaj/false-rape-files/639495616090186
And also, how these feminists wanting to have several sex partners are killing their husbands: http://ekhusbandkimaut.blogspot.in/
(Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj is a journalist and working on a documentary film on the misuse of IPC section 498A)