BMC spent Rs1.70 crore on hiring retired officers as OSDs, consultants
BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp spent the amount by appointing officers as OSDs and consultants after their retirement. Some were even given extension without permission from the government, reveals reply received by Anil Galgali, under the RTI Act
 
The Municipal Corp of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) also known as BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC), the richest municipal corporation in India has spent about Rs1.70 crore over past five years on contract payment for hiring retired officers as officer on special duty (OSD) and consultants reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
 
According to the reply received by RTI activist Anil Galgali, over the past five years, the BMC appointed 40 retired officials on contractual basis. "Not only that the BMC Commissioner seems to have gone out of way in extending the tenure of contract for some of the retired officers not once but twice," he added.
 
NK Kusnoor appears to be the favourite OSD or Consultant for BMC as he received Rs29.50 lakh, the maximum, for his services after retirement. According to the reply received by Galgali, during 1 January 2010 to 28 February 2015, the Corporation deputed and retained services of 40 retired officers. Some of them, appointed on monthly retainership basis were paid as much as Rs50,000, while some received just Rs5,850 a month.
 
Galgali said three OSDs or consultants got extension twice, while three other managed to get it for one time. "Some retired officers like PV Kulkarni (Asst Commissioner-Special Engineer -paid Rs9.87 lakh), SS Palav (Asst Commissioner- Special Engineer -paid Rs13.10 lakh) and Sneha Khandekar (Director -paid Rs10.47 lakh) were give two extensions by the Commissioner. On the other hand, NH Kusnoor (Additional Commissioner-Projects-paid Rs29.50 lakh), SD Khandare (Dy. Chief Engineer- Planning-paid Rs9 lakh) and Uday Mande (Dy Chief Engineer-paid Rs5.71 lakh) have been granted extension only once," he added.
 
According to the RTI activist, by appointing and giving extensions to these officials, the BMC Commissioner had flouted the norms. He said, "In a special order passed by the Court in the Dr Jagganath Dhone v/s Government of Maharashtra, on 14 January, 2010, the Court had directed to make such appointments but only after getting the necessary permission from the Government. However, the BMC Commissioner, without taking any permission from the Government, made sure that these 40 officers are appointed."
 
Galgali has sent a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya and BMC's new Commissioner Ajoy Mehta about the appointments.  
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    Panvel resident fights diktat against the use of RTI
    An RTI application to the forest department about land under it in Bandewadi and Tara villages had the Khaap Panchayat penalise Laxman Thakur but he successfully fought it. Here’s how
     
    When it comes to the unreasonable diktats of Khaap Panchayats across the country, the village residents tend to live in fear and give in to them. Laxman Thakur, a resident of Panvel in Raigad District of Maharashtra, however, fought it by bravely amplifying the issue through media and by filing a police complaint, resulting in the Panchayat of Bandewadi and Tara villages of Panvel retreating from penalising him for his use of RTI and even principally agreeing to return his cultivated land.
     
    About five months back, on 4 December 2014, Thakur, filed a RTI application to the local forest department of Panvel seeking information on land that was under it in the villages of Bandewadi and Tara. While no applicant needs to give a reason for filing RTI, Thakur told Moneylife, when contacted that, ``our family has been tilling small farmland of about 7,000 sq ft since the last five decades and cultivating vegetables but suddenly on July 2014 the Panchayat Committee declared it was the public land, broke down our compound and did not allow us to continue cultivation.’’ Despite his pleas to the Gram Panchayat to show proof that the land belongs to it, the latter did not relent. 
     
     
     
    Hence, he filed the RTI application on 4th December to understand who is the legal custodian of his ancestral land and was shocked to note that ``the forest officer actually told the Sarpanch that I have sought information under RTI against the village and that I should be asked to withdraw.’’ This triggered off a series of pressure tactics from the Gram Panchayat says Thakur.
     
    Thakur was immediately summoned for the village meeting and asked to withdraw the RTI application. Thakur told them the least he can do is not file First Appeal in case the PIO does not reply to his query in 30 days. This was not taken kindly and Thakur was slammed a penalty of Rs500 for filing RTI and Rs2,000 for not agreeing to withdraw it. Thakur states, ``the meeting was very intimidating. There were 150 villagers including the Panch committee members. All of them were hurling abuses at me for filing RTI and pressurizing me through foul language to withdraw the RTI application.’’ Thakur did not relent saying it is his right to use RTI as he was not getting information from the Gram Panchayat. Then they asked him to come for two subsequent meetings but he did not attend.
     
    Thereafter, on 5th April, 2015, he was summoned to come before the `jury’ wherein one representative of noted families of the villages gather to take decision on any controversial issue, particularly that which might damage the reputation of the village. They again reiterated that since the last 200 years, no one had dared to ask such information and again asked him to withdraw the application. When he declined, they got hostile, says Thakur, increased the penalty to Rs5,000 and Rs2,000 respectively – one for having filed RTI and two for not withdrawing it. ``One of them picked up a brick to hit me. They also threatened to ostracise my family.’’ 
     
    Even then Thakur refused to give in and instead filed a police complaint at the Panvel Police Station on 14th April. This resulted in the local media carrying his story.
     
    On 16th April, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Panvel, summoned the village chiefs and questioned them about the incident. It is to the credit of the police and to Thakur who stood for his rights, that, the Gram Panchayat has withdrawn the condition of penalty on him and have principally agreed to return the land to Thakur. Says Thakur, ``I am waiting to see it happen,’’
     
    There’s a lot for village residents to learn from Thakur, when it comes to their rights.
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    COMMENTS

    CR KRISHNAMURTHY

    5 years ago

    Congrats Mr. Thakur. you have fought against heavy odds and very nearly won the case. For all the hard work you have put in, you should get that piece of land restored to him. Good luck. Money life readers should take a leaf out of Thakur's book. Nice to see Police working in a righteous way by not being on the side of the 'powerfuls'

    HC asks Centre on appointment of information commissioners
    The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the central government to inform it on the status of appointment of the chief information commissioner and three information commissioners, the posts lying vacant for nearly a year.
     
    A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain to take instructions from the central government on the appointment of chief information commissioner and information commissioners and apprise the court on Thursday.
     
    The court was hearing a PIL filed by Right to Information (RTI) activists R.K. Jain, Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh Batra, Subhash Chandra Agarwal.
     
    The plea said under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Central Information Commission (CIC) was created as a statutory body to decide appeals and complaints against public authorities for non-compliance with the act.
     
    The proper functioning of the CIC is essential for the proper implementation of the RTI Act, the plea said, adding that the government has attempted to stifle the functioning of the RTI Act by failing to do its statutory duty -- to appoint chief information commissioner and information commissioners at the CIC.
     
    The post of chief information commissioner at CIC is lying vacant since August 23, 2014, and the posts of three information commissioners have also been lying vacant for almost a year, it said.
     
    "Thus, the CIC has been kept headless and there are four vacancies in the CIC. There are only seven information commissioners functioning, as of now," said advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for RTI activists.
     
    The plea sought directions to the government to urgently prepare a short list of candidates for the posts of the chief information commissioner and three information commissioners in transparent manner for final selection and appointment to be concluded in a time-bound manner.
     
    "Because of the non-appointment of the chief information commissioner and the three information commissioners, the pendency at CIC has shot up to a whopping 37,650 appeals/complaints," the PIL said. 
     
    "About 13,615 appeals and complaints are pending for disposal before the bench of Chief Information Commissioner, which includes cases of important authorities," the petition stated.
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