Nifty has to remain above 7,920 for the rally to continue
While the post of Chief Information Commissioner under RTI lies vacant, 553 applicants, including bureaucrats, government officials, retired defence personnel and citizens are eying to grab one of the three new posts of Information Commissioner
Despite the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promising transparency in its election manifesto, the post of the Chief Information Commissioner under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has remained vacant for nearly 50 days. In the meanwhile, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has received 553 applications for three posts of Central Information Commissioners. These applications have come from government officers, former armed personnel and citizens.
The list of applicants includes names of former DoPT Secretary- Dr Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, Dr Anuradha Verma (this name had figured in the past as a shortlisted candidate), some RTI activists, journalists and members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), says RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra. Batra had filed an RTI application to know the details of applications received.
While the Chief Information Commission (CIC) is headless since 22nd August, waiting for the President and Prime Minister to install a new person at the helm, the DoPT had in February and July 2014 sought applications for the appointment of “more information commissioners in the CIC”, although it did not mention the number of vacancies at that point of time.
Delhi-based Batra requested information regarding the total number of applications received by the DoPT for Information Commissioners (IC) posts in the CIC, total number of vacancies of ICs required and the names of applicants who have applied for the IC posts.
See the entire list of 553 names below...
In the meanwhile, RTI activists across the country are fuming over the Modi government’s lethargy in appointing a new Central Chief Information Commissioner (CCIC), who is crucial for transparency and informed citizenry. They have been questioning the use of filling up the information commissioners’ post without appointing the CCIC.
Batra, who has demanded an inspection of files which contain correspondence related to the post of the CCIC says, "The absence of 'Chief Information Commissioner' in the 'Central Information Commission' (CIC) is adversely affecting the functioning of the CIC because he is also responsible and accountable for administration and management of the Commission. Also, there is no provision in the act for "Officiating" or an “Acting Chief Information Commissioner.”
Section 12 (4) of the RTI Act, 2005 clearly says: "The general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs of the Central Information Commission shall vest in the Chief Information Commissioner who shall be assisted by the Information Commissioners and may exercise all such powers and do all such acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Central Information Commission autonomously without being subjected to directions by any other authority under this Act."
RTI activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Amrita Johri have launched an online petition appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appoint a CIC at the earliest. The petition appeals to Modi to appoint a CIC immediately.
The appeal states:
You could sign the petition here.
While the union government is hiding behind the excuse of the absence of a leader of opposition, is it that the BJP has someone in mind and are waiting for him or her to retire? Like it happened in the case of Maharashtra when the post of the state chief information commissioner (SCIC) was left vacant for eight months until Ratnakar Gaikwad retired as chief secretary and then was appointed as SCIC!
(Vinita Deshmukh is 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”.)
Besides the commencement of winter, officials say the pollution is caused by ramped-up production by industrial units in and around Beijing
The highly polluted fog is back again to haunt the Chinese capital as the government has issued a yellow alert for air pollution over the next three days advising residents to take a number of precautions.
Due to the weather, pollution was predicted to remain heavy in Beijing until Saturday, the Beijing heavy air pollution response office said.
The Beijing Meteorological Observatory issued a yellow alert for smog, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Besides the commencement of winter, officials say the pollution is caused by ramped-up production by industrial units in and around the city which were opened yesterday after a week-long National Day holiday.
It is the first yellow smog alert in Beijing since the beginning of July. Tianjin and Hebei also issued a yellow alert.
Citizens, especially elders and children, were advised to take protective measures. Schools were asked to avoid outdoor activities and reduce physical exercise classes.
Air quality index (AQI) in downtown Beijing exceeded 200 for the past 24 hours, according to data this morning obtained by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.
An AQI of over 300 is defined as “serious pollution” and an AQI between 201 and 300 is considered “heavy”, according to China’s standard.
Downtown density of PM2.5, particles under 2.5 microns in diameter and major air pollutant, at 8 p.m. was more than 300 micrograms per cubic meter, in Beijing.
“Serious smog has appeared in the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei region,” said Li Jing, a forecaster at the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.
Heavy pollution was reported in Hebei and Henan provinces yesterday. Cold air is forecast to blow away the smog on Saturday night, said Li.
Tianjin and Hebei will continue to have heavy pollution until this evening, according to forecast.
The smog also prevented citizens from watching a total lunar eclipse yesterday. Beijing officials claim to have improved pollution law enforcement.
In the first eight months, there were more than 1,000 breaches of the law with fines totalling 23 million yuan (about $3.8 million) issued, up 99% and 375% respectively year-on-year.