मंगलवार, 23 अगस्त 2016

Success Case Study on RTI

Case Study
RTI- An Instrument empowering Common people to fight out corruption at grass-root level

Apprehending corruption and irregularities in development projects undertaken in Marthapur Gram Panchayat of Balipatna Block under Khurda district of Odisha,   a group of people submitted complaint to   District Collector, Khurda in his Grievance Cell on 24th August 2015 and BDO, Balipatna Block demanding an enquiry into it. Following order of the Collector and subsequent request of BDO, Balipatna, the District Panchayat Officer, Khorda wrote a letter No. dt. 603/GP, dated 7.9.15  to  the Sub-Collector, Bhubaneswar  to  depute  Sub-Divisional Panchayat Officer to  conduct an enquiry  of Marthapur Gram Panchayat to detect  details of  funds misappropriated  by  the personnel and furnish   a Report.

In the meantime,  series of  RTI Applications were submitted by Pandab Pradhan, Manoj Swain, grass-root RTI Activists  associated with Odisha Soochana adhikar Abhijan ( a state-level forum of Activists sprearheading campaign for  effective  implementation of RTI Act in Odisha  )  to the PIO, office of Marthapur Gram Panchayat, BDO, Balipatna to  get the information about  the following  works undertaken, project sanctioned, fund utilized with copy of  bill and vouchures   under  different schemes like  fund sanctioned under State Finance Commission,  Twelfth Finance Commission, Gopabandhu Gramin Yojana, GP Fund etc. from 2013-14 to 2015-16 .

i.      Talapadia Harijan Sahi Drain & CC Road
ii.    Construction  of Cement Concrete  Road  at Badakuda Thakurani Pitha & Construction of Giri Gobardhan Pitha
iii.   Cement Concrete Road from house of Antaryami Pradhan to Bharat Pradhan House.
iv.  Cement Concrete Road  from  house of Laxmidhar  Pradhan to  Gangadhar Pradhan House
v.    Renovation of Gram Panchayat Office.
It was assessed by the villagers that   the entire sanctioned amount around Rs. 30 lakhs has been   misappropriated by Panchayat executive Officer, Sarapanch and Contractors by making false Bill and vouchures.

However, though the information was provided by the concerned PIOs, it was found incomplete and RTI Application was also not responded in the absence of records.   It was highlighted in media exposing huge corruption in Gram Panchayat which drew the attention of the authorities.

As per request of District Panchayat Officer, the SDPO conducted enquiry investing all the records and documents , making spot inspection  of all the works shown in file as completed   with cooperation of the  villagers  in October and November,2015 and  produced the report 0n 24.12.16. with following note of observation and recommendation.

1.    The amount of  Rs. 43,000.00  and Rs. 23,000.00  withdrawn  on 6.1.2015  and 19.1.2015  from SFC  account  has been expended  in beautification  of GP  and purchase of furniture  without any estimate, administrative approval,  technical sanction. Both Sarapanch and Ex-PEO are jointly responsible for it.

2.     The  amount of  Rs. 28,000.00  withdrawn  on 14.11.14  from TFC  account  for payment of honourarium  of Sarapanch  and Naib Sarapanch & S.A., D.A. of members  of GP. But no payment is done and the amount has been misappropriated.

3.    The amount of Rs. 2, 75,154.00 has been illegally withdrawn from TFC account without any estimate, bill, measurement/ check measurement by any technical person. No administrative approval has been taken for the above three mentioned projects The projects have not been approved in the GP meeting.  The Sarapanch and Ex-PEO are jointly responsible for such illegal withdrawal of money.

Recommendation for Action
1.       Necessary disciplinary action may be taken against the Ex-PEO Sri Trilochan Nayak for his carelessness, negligence in Government duty and financial irregularities.

2.        Necessary disciplinary action also may be taken against the Sarapanch Smt.  Sandhyarani Pradhan for her negligence  in duty, misappropriation of  Government money, financial irregularities  and without following guideline, non-discharge of the duty properly as provided  under section 115 of O.G.P. Act, 1964.

Though the Report was produced to the Collector, no action was taken against the delinquent officials.  On 21.1.12016, RTI Application was  submitted  to the PIO, Office of Collector, Khurda  seeking copy of the  Enquiry report  and  Action taken  against the  officials  involved  in  misappropriation of report. On 27.2.16, the PIO   supplied the copy of the enquiry report  along with  a statement  that  “no  action  has been taken  against the delinquent regarding  irregularities  committed  in  the Gram Panchayat till yet”.

After  obtaining the information,  it was exposed  in media  highlighting  the content of the report  and Govt.’s dillydallying  to  take action against  the  delinquents.   Then the villagers staged Dharana in front of Balipatna Block office demanding immediate action against Sarapanch and Panchayat Extension officer and recovery of the money.  A delegation of RTI Activists and villagers also met   Commissioner-cum Secretary, Dept. of Panchayat Raj demanding action against them as per enquiry report.  This fight   took three months to yield the result.

Being  pressurized  by the  people  armed  with RTI  information,  the  district  administration  suspended  Sri Trilochan Nayak, Ex-PEO  and issued  show cause  notice  for  disciplinary  action. On 7.7.16, the Department of Panchayat Raj issued order dt. 7.6.16 under sub-section (2) of section-115 of Odisha Gram Panchayat Act, 1965 to place Smt. Sandhyarani pradhan, Sarapanch  of Marthapur GP  under suspension. 

Though the people got small victory after a long fight with the administration, the problem has not been solved. The money misappropriated has not been recovered from them till yet.  No disciplinary action has been taken against them.

Case Study Prepared by
Pradip Pradhan
State Convener, Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan


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