#India- Political Parties afraid of #RTI


 

Let’s ask the political parties what makes them fear public scrutiny
Shailesh Gandhi

15-06-2013, Issue 24 Volume 10

Illustration: Vikram NongmaithemIllustration: Vikram Nongmaithem

The recent decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to bring political parties within the ambit of the Right to Information () Act is a welcome step. And there’s nothing surprising in the way the political parties have reacted to it. After all, no one in a position of power wants to be transparent. It’s almost a human tendency. In this case, the political class clearly does not know what the  is. In fact, a common user of the knows it better than them. The negative reactions of the political class stem from the typical mindset of “why should I?”

Three key questions must in turn be asked of the political parties. Firstly, are they not financed by government funds? If they are not, the CIC’s judgment is flawed. But if they are, then they must come under the RTI. The RTI Act clearly says any non-government organisation that is substantially financed by government funds is a public authority — and that includes political parties. In this judgment, the bench has clearly cited instances of the massive tax exemptions they get, the huge subsidies on the government land allotted to them and so on.

Secondly, are they are not receiving funds in crores? Isn’t that substantial? They cannot refute that it is and so they are public authorities as defined by law. If they still object, they must explain why they should not be subject to RTI.

Thirdly, do the political parties believe transparency will do them good? If they don’t, then we must ask them what harm it would do.

If you are a public authority, you come under the RTI. but the Act also provides exemptions to protect you from disclosure of certain types of information. based on these exemptions, various public authorities have now functioned for over seven years without any major damage to the institutions.

The parties ask, how can people dictate how they choose candidates. The answer is, they cannot. The information that parties do not have on record, is not information and hence does not have to be provided. but citizens have the right to ask if there is a process and what are the criteria laid down. beyond that, this law doesn’t in any way allow the citizen to “dictate” any terms. besides, the humble Indian citizen cannot dictate to the powerful, but can hope to speak the truth to power, and make them truthful.

Parties also argue that they are already monitored by the Election commission. come election time, they go and beg for votes. Are they saying they don’t want ordinary citizens to monitor them? That they are not answerable to individual citizens, and find the idea abhorrent? Let them answer that and we will know where we stand. Some political parties even declared themselves as private organisations. Do they really think they are businesses?

I think the political parties don’t really know where they might get hit. The  scam got exposed because of RTI. It’s an unknown animal, and so political parties believe it’s best to avoid it. Some of their illegal acts, their arbitrariness, may come out, hence the fear.

If you become transparent, you become better. Transparency is a tool for self-improvement and in the long-term interest of the political parties. Today, we have a trust deficit that may lessen if they become transparent. Tomorrow, if the  says they will do it, the congress will also fall in line, provided there is a national clamour.

If they choose to take the CIC order to court, it will be unfortunate and cause an indefinite delay, in case the court stays the order. One of the respondents, the Association for Democratic reforms, a civil society group, has already filed a caveat in the Delhi High Court, asking to be heard before any political party gets a stay against the CIC order.

The rhetoric on news channels has been mostly along the lines of “shouldn’t the citizens know?” That’s a side comment, but not a valid legal argument. An organisation doesn’t become a public authority on the grounds that “a citizen must know”. we have a strong case as the parties are substantially funded by the government, and are therefore public authorities as defined in the RTI Act.

As a believer in transparency, I think a ‘No RTI, No Vote’ campaign is a great idea. If we can build up a nationwide clamour for it, there is some hope that this order will be effectively implemented. That will be an extremely important step for democracy.

(As told to )

letters@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magaz

 

Information that cannot be denied to Parliament cannot be denied to you and me… but does it happen? #RTI


 

VINITA DESHMUKH | 31/01/2013 12:15 PM |  , Moneylife.com

Does this provision in Section 8 wherein, despite exemptions you have the right to information if it is of larger public interest being correctly interpreted by Courts? A study thinks otherwise

Notwithstanding Section 8 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act under which you are denied the right to certain information, there is a provision which states that, every citizen has the right to get that information which our elected representatives, have access to. It reads thus, “Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.”

 

However, it has been observed in an expert study, conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) that the judiciary has been inconsistent in application of this provision and therefore “does not provide clarity of interpretation of this crucial provision of the RTI Act.’’

 

Sometimes, the judiciary applies it to the entire Section 8 (1) which should be the case according to the CHRI’s analysis but many a time in its judgment, the judiciary restricts this provision only to Section 8 (1)(j) which relates to protection of personal information. Such varied interpretation which is diluting the power of this provision says the study, would have adverse repercussions for citizens, if this trend continues in the court of law.

 

Interestingly, even the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India in its guidelines to public authorities, Public Information Officers (PIOs) and First Appellate Authorities (FAAs) at the Central and State level for implementing the RTI Act, directed them to follow this provision by stating that:  “The Act gives the citizens a right to information at par with the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Members of the State Legislatures (MLAs). According to the Act, information which cannot be denied to Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.’’

 

However, many PIOs and FAAs continue to decline information and the matter goes to information commissioners who often order disclosure of information. However, petitioners seek legal intervention and it is here that the provision is not used in its true spirit, as per the study.

 

Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator, Access to Information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Imitative (CHRI) conducted the study to highlight how the provision is being narrowly used. States Nayak, “In 18 judgments interpreting the provision, this is far from convincing. We have chosen one such issue for analysis where despite the existence of more than 15 judgments, the jurisprudence does not provide clarity of interpretation of this crucial provision of the RTI Act.  Settlement of access disputes in the High Courts has not always conformed to the doctrine of precedent.”

 

Nayak observes that, “Eight High Courts have interpreted the scope and application of the proviso under Section 8(1) varyingly. Starting with the Bombay High Court, in 2007, five High Courts (Bombay, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Madras and Patna) have interpreted this proviso in six cases as being applicable only to clause (j) of Section 8(1), namely, the exemption protecting personal information of an individual from disclosure. Three High Courts (Calcutta, Kerala and Punjab and Haryana) have in ten cases interpreted this proviso as applying to all exemption clauses listed in Section 8(1). In at least two High Courts (Bombay and Delhi) single‐judge and Division Benches have held contrary views indicating the lack of crystallisation of judicial precedent, regarding the interpretation of the scope and application of this proviso.’’

 

Section 8 (of the RTI Act) deals with exemptions to the right to information.  Nayak points out that:

•  Sub‐Section (1) lists out the specific exemptions to disclosure –namely, information that an applicant may not claim as a matter of right

•  Sub‐Section (2) provides for the disclosure of even exempt information when public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

• Sub‐Section (3) limits the operation of seven out of the ten exemptions up to 20 years for a given set of records. The exemptions relating to national security, foreign relations with foreign Governments, Parliamentary and Legislative privilege and Cabinet documents apply for an indefinite period of time.

•  A proviso is inscribed at the bottom of Section 8(1) which states that… Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.”

 

The study highlights several judgments which have interpreted Section 8 (1) in different modes. In most of these cases, the High Courts have upheld the orders of information commissioners but the judgment is not based on a comprehensive look at this provision.  This study aims to provide insight into this discrepancy. Concludes Nayak, “We hope that in an appropriate case the true meaning of the proviso underlying Section 8(1) is interpreted by the courts with due regard to legislative intent and the drafting history of the RTI Act.’’

 

Following are a few examples:

 

Case 1: A member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment for committing contempt of Supreme Court’s orders during his tenure as Minister in the Government of Maharashtra. He spent 21 days of his jail term in a hospital in Mumbai under the pretext of being treated for various illnesses.

 

A citizen sought medical reports of his treatment, under RTI, in order to ascertain why the MLA had spent most of the duration of his sentence in an air‐conditioned hospital. The Petitioner objected to the disclosure of his medical records claiming that such action would cause invasion of his right to privacy. The matter escalated to the State Information Commission which ordered disclosure in the larger public interest.

 

The Petitioner (the MLA) challenged the order of disclosure on various grounds includingthe right to privacy and the requirement of confidentiality of patient‐related information under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002.

 

A two‐judge Bench of the Bombay High Court upheld the order of disclosure of the Petitioner’s medical records in the larger public interest. (Mr Surupsingh Hrya Naik v/s State of Maharashtra Through Additional Secretary, General Administration Deptt. And Others, Bombay High Court [Writ Petition No. 1750 of 2007] decision date: 23/03/2007)

 

CHRI’s analysis: “The Court relied upon the judgement of a single‐judge Bench in an earlier dispute relating to access to information under the Goa Right to Information Act, 1997 (Goa RTI Act) to hold that the proviso underlying Section 8(1) applied only to clause (j)… The main cause in the Surupsingh Naik case was about an individual’s right to privacy in relation to his medical records. In our opinion inquiring into Parliament’s intent behind placing the proviso under Section 8(1) in the light of the Court’s earlier pronouncement was necessary before determining its scope and application. Instead the ratio of the Court in the Panaji Municipal Council case was applied mechanically without regard to the reasoning that informed it. In view of this glaring contradiction the Court’s reading of the import and application of the proviso underlying Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, deserves to be reviewed.’’

 

Case 2: An Applicant sought information about the appointment, posting, transfer and promotion of clerical staff employed by the Canara Bank (the Bank) in Ernakulam district of Kerala during the period 2002‐2006. The Bank denied access on various grounds. When the matter escalated to the Central Information Commission (CIC), it ordered that the information be disclosed. The Bank challenged this order before the Kerala High Court claiming the protection of Section 8(1)(e)‐ when information is available to a person in his fiduciary relationship‐ and Section 8(1)(j)‐ when disclosure of personal information has no relationship to any public activity or interest or if disclosure would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. A single‐judge Bench of the Court rejected both contentions and upheld the order of the Central Information Commission. (Canara Bank vs the Central Information Commissioner and Another, Kerala High Court [Writ Petition (Civil) 9988 of 2007, decision date: 11/07/2007]7 2.1)

 

CHRI’s analysis: The Court independently held that the proviso applied to the whole of Section 8(1) and not merely to clause (j) of that Section. More importantly, the proviso to the section qualifies the section by stating that information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

 

Case 3: A student sought access to his answer sheets in a Bachelor’s Degree examination conducted by the University of Calcutta. The PIO rejected the request without invoking any of the exemptions provided in Section 8 of the RTI Act. He merely stated, in an undated letter, that the University had taken a decision not to permit inspection of evaluated answer scripts under the RTI Act.

 

The matter escalated to the High Court where the University cited a decision of the CIC which had ruled in an earlier case that where Boards and Universities conducting public examinations had evolved a robust system of evaluation and, if, by their own rules, prohibited disclosure of evaluated answer‐sheets or where such disclosure would result in rendering the system unworkable in practice, a citizen could not seek disclosure of the answer‐sheets. The University also contended that answer scripts did not fall within the definition of information under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and that disclosure of the evaluated answer scripts would endanger the lives of the examiners. The University contended further that the Supreme Court had in earlier decisions refused to order disclosure of such documents, so Section 8(1)(b) of the RTI Act would apply. A single‐judge Bench of the Court rejected these contentions in a well reasoned judgement and ordered the evaluated answer sheets to be disclosed. (Pritam Rooj vs University of Calcutta, Calcutta High Court [Writ Petition No. 22176 of 2007], decision date: 28/03/2008.)

 

CHRI’s Analysis: …The Court also took notice of the need for protecting the privacy of individuals. However the Court held that the proviso underlying Section 8(1) applied to the whole of that Section…The proviso at the foot of Clause (j) appears to cover the entirety of Section 8(1), notwithstanding the view taken by the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court. The manner in which the exceptions to the rule have been carved out in Section 8 and the proviso which appears to govern all the cases covered by Section 8(1) of the said Act, makes the exemption section exhaustive. [emphasis supplied]…That the Court rejected the finding of a larger Bench of another High Court without supplying a reasoned justification is problematic, particularly when both parties had used the ratio to support their contention..

 

 

Are information commissioners killing the RTI Act?


 

VINITA DESHMUKH | 09/01/2013 Moneylife 

Information commissions are increasingly being lenient in penalising Public Information Officers (PIOs) for not providing information that they should, or being absent at hearings at the information commission. If so, are the information commissioners making PIOs and Appellate Authorities unaccountable?

Pune-based RTI (Right to Information) activist Vijay Kumbhar has triggered off a controversy through his column in the Marathi daily Pudhari that despite information commissioners being empowered to penalise Public Information Officers (PIOs), they do not do so even if they do not provide information to the applicant or remain absent for hearing at the information commission. Kumbhar states, “information commissioners are responsible for the worrying trend of government employees not being serious about the RTI anymore as they are often not held accountable.”

 

He cites two recent decisions of State Information Commissioners in Maharashtra on New Year’s Day, as examples. In the first decision, the applicant who had filed a RTI in July 2011 did not get the required reply and the First Appellate Authority (FAA) did not bother to conduct any hearing. This compelled the applicant to file second appeal with the information commission.

 

However, when the matter was heard at the state information commission, the commissioner merely ordered that information be given within a specific period by the PIO but he did not levy any penalty on the PIO or question the absence of both the PIO and FAA. Says Kumbhar, “in this case, the PIO or FAA did not bother about the RTIapplication or appeal filed before them. They even did not have the courtesy to attend the hearing of an appeal before the information commission. But the Commission in its order has not dealt with some basic questions like, what was the information the applicant had sought for? What were the reasons behind not furnishing the information by the PIO? Why didn’t the appellate authority conduct hearing on the first appeal? Why was the PIO and the appellate authority not present for the hearing before the information commission?” The least the information commissioner could have done, says Kumbhar is to issue a show-cause notice as to why they remained absent.

 

In the second case, says Kumbhar, the applicant did not receive the information that he had asked for from the PIO but the FAA dismissed his appeal by stating that the required information was provided to him by the PIO and that too,10 months after the applicant had filed his first appeal. During the second appeal hearing, the information commissioner did not go into details as to what information was asked for by the applicant? In such a case, the information commissioner has the power to impose fine on the PIO and reprimand the FAA for conducting the hearing after 10 long months but they were not pulled up. If the information commissioners are so lenient, then why should PIOs bother about applications they receive under RTI?

 

So, are information commissioners advertently or inadvertently killing the power of the RTI Act? Moneylife asked a cross-section of RTI activists:

 

RTI activist Maj Gen SCN Jatar (retd)

Information Commissioners cannot afford to be lax:  Kumbhar’s observations set out in reality how RTI commissioners are set to kill RTI. They do not realise that such decisions are taken as examples of superficiality and laxity in penalising errant PIOs. PIOs are apt to then follow the same methods again and again. The basic criteria that should govern good judgments are a) They should be well-reasoned so that these can be cited in future judgments and ii) they should give a clear message to the errant PIOs that avoiding or evading giving information, which should be in public domain, will not be tolerated. The two cases quoted by Kumbhar do not meet both the above criteria.

 

Former Central Information Commissioner and RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi

Faster disposal of cases and reasonable threat of penalty required:  Most Information Commissioners use the penalty provision as if it was a death penalty to be imposed in the rarest of cases. I do not see any problem with who attends the hearing. The Commissioners should give orders for information irrespective of whether the PIO attends or not. The hearing is an opportunity to present one’s views or argue on required matters. If the appellant or PIO does not attend, they may not want the opportunity of hearing. To believe that when either side is not present, a Commissioner must rule in favour of one who is present does not appear correct or desirable.

 

I had levied 521 penalties totalling Rs.92 lakh in the 20,400 cases which I decided in three years and nine months.  The rest of the Central Information Commissioners collectively imposed penalties in about 330 cases in the Commission and had decided about 80,000 cases. There is no doubt that there is a link of penalty imposition with compliance of the law. If cases are decided fast, and there is a fear of penalties, the PIOs and First appellate authorities become more alert and try to meet the requirements of the law. The total cases received by the Central Commission rose by about 50% in a two year period from 2009 to 2011. The cases for Municipal Corporation of Delhi—which I handled throughout my tenure rose by only 15%. This indicates that faster disposal and a reasonable threat of penalties would get better compliance of the law.

 

RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal

Each order of Information commission should be comprehensive: It is usually observed that generally penalties are not imposed by Information Commissioners thereby making Public Information Officers (PIOs) lethargic towards complying with provisions of the RTI Act. There should be a practice whereby each order of Information Commissions may carry all the relevant dates like filing a RTI petition, reply of PIO, filing first appeal and of appeal-order. There should be auto-calculation of penalty in each verdict of Information Commissions making penal-provisions under Section 20 of the RTI Act mandatory rather than discretionary as at present. Reasons for waiving or reducing applicable penalty should be specifically mentioned in verdicts of Information Commissions. Information Commissions should maintain record of penalties imposed. Non-payment of penalties in specified time should be reported once in a month to Cabinet Secretary/Chief Secretary who should be duty-bound to initiate disciplinary action against defaulting officers apart from taking steps to recover penalty-amounts from salary/pension payable.

 

RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd)

Applicants should be innovative, interactive with PIOs:  Every applicant must realise that it is only after the RTI Act that citizens have become participative in governance. RTI has given us a chance to be an integral part of public accountability so we should not take an adverse stance against PIOs as far as possible. Every RTI applicant should make untiring efforts not to take the case up to the Information commission level as he or she would face inordinate delays, even up to two years. I use innovative methods to interact with the PIOs to extract information in case they hesitate to provide it. Today, I have developed good relations with many public authorities and they sometimes call me for suggestions or advice. Also, after the 2G scam it has been observed that every single reply under RTI at least in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) goes to the top bureaucrat so what is the use of blaming or penalising PIOs who are at the mercy of their bosses? Also, in the information commissions, it is the bureaucrats who create more hurdles than the information commissioners themselves.

 

Researcher and RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak

Public Authorities should take implementation of RTI Act seriously: I agree that to make government employees take RTI seriously PIOs should be penalised but that is just one of the solutions. Penalty cannot be the only deterrent as much as vigilance by higher authorities can be. It is the responsibility of public authorities to clearly push for policy of transparency and that should be visible in action and not by merely issuing paper orders. Serious implementation of RTI cannot be only a PIO’s headache. The top brass of every public authority should regularly monitor and be vigilant about transparency. Mechanisms to check it should work efficiently and should be given top priority. Targets should be set for accountability. Every office has a Monthly Monitoring Report (MMR). It is also called the Monthly Progressive Implementation Calendar in Karnataka. It requires reporting physical and financial progress to superiors who in turn give guidance on the basis of the report. There should also be scrutiny at the highest level, which is legislature. Such professional monitoring has not been seen for RTI. It is only when the government employees know that someone is seriously watching over them, that everyone down the line will take RTI seriously. Perhaps some incentives like increased funding or an award to the Public Authority which implements RTI diligently could help.

 

‘Substantially’ funded NGOs to make info public under RTI Act


Ashwani Sharma : Shimla, IE, Sat Dec 08 2012,
In a landmark judgement having wider implications on government-funded NGOs and organisations run on public contributions, the State Information Commission (SIC) on Friday ruled that all “substantially” financed NGOs (receiving over Rs 1 crore from state or government grants) are public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and must make their annual ‘income and expenditures’ public.
In the Commission’s order, passed by a two-member bench of Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner K D Batish, Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA) was declared a public authority under RTI and directed to appoint its public information officer (PIO) within 10 days.
“As per the provisions of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Act 1971, HPVHA is a public authority under the RTI Act as it is being substantially financed by the government and is eligible for audit by the CAG. The association is directed to designate an official as the PIO within 10 days from the receipt of the order”, said the order.
The order was passed in a complaint by one Deepak Sharma, who was denied information by HPVHA as it asserted it was not covered under the RTI Act. The Commission analysed the funding details of the the organization, which was over Rs 1.22 crore during 2008-2009. It claimed that the organisation had been getting substantial aid from the state government and thus cannot be granted exemptions from RTI.
In its order, the commission also stated that in cases where the state gives not so substantial grants (Rs 25 lakh or less) to NGOs, the state or a government agency will be appointed as public authority, which will be required to provide information.
It also added that NGOs that have been raising funds from public contributions should voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on the web, which should include its Constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations, its annual income and expenditure and nature of works undertaken or completed.
“If an NGO is not substantially financed by the government and also raises funds by collections from public contribution and it performs functions of a public nature that are ordinarily performed by the government or its agency, it is desirable that the NGO voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on its website,” the order said.
The HPHVA has to provide the details within a month.

 

Bombay HC- Personal info can’t be disclosed under RTI #Privacy


, TNN | Nov 9, 2012, 01.31AM IST

NAGPUR: Giving privilege to the right to privacy, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court ruled that personal information, which serves no public interest, can’t be disclosed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Allowing the writ petition (WP NO. 2157/2012) filed by Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (Mahatransco) Limited, which challenged the order of state information commissioner, Justice Vasanati Naik held that such non-disclosure of personal information is protected by the exception provided in one of the provisions of the RTI Act itself.
In the given case, respondent Sureshkumar Patil, a resident of Hingna Road, had sought personal information of ten employees working in Mahatransco through an application dated June 6, 2011. He demanded confidential documents like annual performance appraisal and job description of these employees.
Patil had also asked for the documents relating to the job description of certain officers and the attested copies of representation for the upgradation of annual confidential reports of the employees.
The second respondent – state information commissioner’s Nagpur bench in Civil lines – had partly allowed the appeal on December 20 last year and asked the petitioners to disclose the information sought by Patil.
The high court held that such disclosure is unwarranted. Referring to section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, the court observed that disclosure of personal information, which has no relation with the larger public interest, causes unnecessary intrusion in the individual’s private realm. “Unless the central or the state information commissioner finds that such disclosure is justified for larger public interest, no personal information must be supplied with,” the court stated.
It also relied on an unreported apex court judgment of this year, which held that every individual is entitled to right to privacy and any such disclosure without reasonable grounds of public interest, violates the right of the individual.
Accordingly, Justice Naik quashed and set aside the December 20 order of the state information commission while allowing prayers of the petitioner – public information officer and general manager Madhao Pendor of Mahatransco. DM Kale was the counsel for Mahatransco, while SB Wahane and AB Patil represented the first and second respondents respectively.
(With inputs from Lakshmi Dwivedi)

 

#India- Government withdraws RTI Act amendments #goodnews


New Delhi,Politics,Immigration/Law/Rights, Thu, 01 Nov 2012IANS
New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Under pressure from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the Manmohan Singh government Thursday withdrew the controversial amendments aimed at diluting the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
“The cabinet decided to withdraw the amendments to the RTI Act,” a government source told IANS after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The campaign against the amendments was led by activist Aruna Roy, a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council.
The withdrawal of amendments would mean it would be possible for the citizens to ask for information related to file notings, except on issues about national security, privacy and protection of commercial interest. The amendments had sought to restrict disclosure of file notings only to social and developmental issues.
“It is an important decision. The amendments would have killed the RTI Act and there would have been no transparency in governance,” Nikhil Dey, who works closely with Aruna Roy on the RTI Act, told IANS.
Roy even met Gandhi on the government’s plans to dilute the act. Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra was also not in favour of the amendments, said sources.
The RTI Act was introduced during the previous UPA government to bring more transparency in governance and fight corruption.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Narendra Modi replies to RTI query of Rohit Prajapati


English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PRESS RELEASE
15 October 2012
  • An open letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi by Rohit Prajapati.
  • In reply to Rohit Prajapati’s RTI application dated 23-04-2010 the Chief Minister of Gujarat’s office states that “In addition, would like to inform you that about point no. 1 & 2 of your RTI application dated 23-04-2010, information sought by you is about the period before date 25-1-2007 and government’s term was over in December 2007 and after new government came in as per our working method, old records were destroyed so demanded information can not be made available to you.”
  • “With your (The Chief Minister) emphasis on ‘information technology’ in governance, the soft copies of the correspondence should be present in some official databank, or one would assume that you or your office are deliberately withholding or denying information that should be in public realm and your public accountability as the chief minister stands questioned, following such a stand of destruction of official records on the mere pretext that it happened because of change in Government.” – Rohit Prajapati

 

Narendra Modi’s travelling cost during ’07 mahila sammelans is zero! #Wtfnews


 

English: nehal,narendra modi

English: nehal,narendra modi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Times of India, 3 October 2012

 

 

VADODARA: A day after Hisar-based RTI activist punctured Narendra Modi‘s claims on Rs 1,880 crore public money spent on Sonia Gandhi‘s foreign tours, there is more embarrassment in store for the chief minister.

 

A social activist from the city on Friday claimed that Modi’s office has failed to share information on his travelling expenses for women sammelans even though its five years now that she sought the details through right to information (RTI) application.

 

Trupti Shah had filed an RTI application on July 18, 2007 to know about expenses incurred by Modi during the 27 women empowerment sammelans organized in that period. Shah had demanded details about expenses incurred on food-packets for women, traveling expenses of Modi and other ministers, publicity expenses and government officials involved in the sammelans.

 

“My application to chief minister officer (CMO) was forwarded to general administration department (GAD) that gave me the list of 27 districts where the events were organized. I was also given information about food-packets and other expenses. But the traveling expenses were not provided,” Shah told TOI.

 

“I wrote to GAD to provide me travelling expenses. But, I got the reply that as per the information provided by the CMO, chief minister does not mention the travelling expenses separately. They further said that as far as travelling expense of the chief minister is concerned, consider that as nil. This is ridiculous as Modi had travelled in helicopter to most of the sammelan venues,” Shah said.

 

“I was practically denied the information by forwarding the letters from one department to another. If Modi wants Sonia Gandhi to share her travelling expenses, then why doesn’t his government share similar details sought by me?” questioned Shah.

 

Shah said that if Modi has travelled to so many places, his expenses must have been borne by some government department or private parties. When she didn’t get replies despite several reminders, she filed complaint before the chief information commissioner (CIC) under 18 (1) of RTI Act in 2008.

 

“In the last hearing on September 26, the CIC directed GAD to collect information sought by me and pass it on to me before next hearing,” Shah said.

 

Shah had sought the information as the state government had denied to implement machinery for the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 andPCPNDT Act 1994 citing lack of funds.

 

 

 

File an RTI application in 5 simple steps


 

 
It has been 65 years since we gained independence. But it was only seven years ago that we gained the right to information. The passage of the RTI Act in 2005 has resulted in many social changes. We have read about activists using the RTI.

But did you know that even you could file an RTI application?

That’s what nine-year-old Aishwarya Parashar did. This little girl from Lucknow has filed three RTIs with the Prime Minister’s Office.
Her efforts have resulted in the removal of a garbage dump near her school. Don’t you want to be a change-maker too?

File an RTI application in 5 simple steps:

1. Identify the department/subject of your query. Is it a state or a central subject? Keep in mind that different rules apply even though
they fall under the same Act.

2. Do a little background research. Find out what information falls under the purview of the department concerned.

3. Phrase your questions wisely and precisely. Ask for a copy of the documents. Fill up the RTI application form (application form given).

4. Attach court fee stamp or Indian Postal Order of worth Rs 10 with the application and keep a copy of it with you for future reference.

5. Post your application or hand it over personally to the ‘TAPAL” also called as Inward/Outward section of the respective department.

Find out more about RTI at http://rti.gov.in/

 

Koondakulam Officia lsite evaluation is faulty- Report #antinuke


English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

REPORT ON EVALUATION OF KUDANKUALM SITE FOR LCOATION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANT PRESENTS IT AS A KILLER PROJECT
 http://tshivajirao.blogspot.in/2012/05/why-kudankulam-reactors-are-killers-of.html
Note:This report obtained by Kudankulam anti- nuclear  activists from NPCIL under pressure of the RTI Act is presented as rough draft as certain pages were omitted during supply of the copy.
Based on Dianuke website report under the following website.
1.Introduction:  The acceptability of a site for locating a nuclear power plant is dependent not only on site characteristics, related primarily and directly to safety, but also on a large number of other aspects  which are only indirectly related to safety.  These include the reliability and stability of the electrical grid, the adequacy of communications etc.
The siting of nuclear power plant (NPP) generally involves studies in three stages, namely:
1)Site survey stage: The purpose of a site survey is to identify lone or more preferred candidate sites after both safety and non-safety considerations have been taken into account.  This involves the study and investigation of a large region.  It results in the rejection of unacceptable sites, and is followed by systematic screening, and comparison of remaining sites.
2) Site evaluation stage:  This stage involves the study and investigation of one or more of the preferred candidate sites to evaluate their acceptability from various consideration, and in particular from the safety considerations.  The site-related design bases are established at this stage.  Subsequent to this a preliminary safety analysis report is submitted for clearance before site construction is started.
3) Pre-operational stageThis stage includes studies and investigations of the selected site after the start of construction and before the start of operation in order to complete and refine the assessment of site characteristics and to confirm assumptions made in the safety analysis of the reactor as a part of the final safety analysis report.  The base line data on environment are also established at this stage.
The stage one is within the scope of the work of the site selection committee.  The present committee aims to have a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility of a site mainly from safety considerations and ensure that the plant site combination does not constitute an unacceptable risk.  However, in ivew of the fact that some non-safety considerations may affect safety related aspects, such items also have to be studied.  It is to be understood that the present committee has evaluated the site from screening considerations.  The site related design parameters/bases are to be established at appropriate stages.  The review is based on the available information on population and industrial growth and other proposed facilities at and around the site in addition to safety related aspects like seismo-tectonic environment, geology, hydrology, extreme meteorological Phenomenon etc.  The site is evaluated from the following considerations.
1.       Effect of the region of the site on the plant   2. Effect of the plant on the region
3.       Population considerations.
While the first of the above factors decide the safety of the plant due to site related natural and man-induced events, the second factor influences the potential radiological impact from the plant on the environment.  Population consideration is important for emergency planning.
The acceptability of a site for a particular NPP depends on the existence of engineering solution to site related problems which gives assurance that the proposed plant can be built and operated within acceptably low risk to the population of the region.
IAEA guidelines (1,2) have been kept in mind for the site evaluation.
2. REVIEW FOR THE SUITABILITY OF THE SITE AT KUDANKULAM
2.1   GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS       2.1.1  SAFETY-RELATED ASPECTS
Potential site-specific natural hazards and man-induced events have been evaluated for initial appraisal of their impact on the plant design and the enigneerability under the given circumstances.  Subsequently, these studies form the design bases.
Among the natural hazards, the following aspects as relevant to site have been studied.
i)                    Surface faulting     ii)Seismicity     iii)Suitability of subsurface material
iv)                 Flood and     v)Extreme meteorological phenomena (e.g cyclone)
Because of rocky substrata slope instability, soil liquefaction, surface collapse, subsidence or uplift are not applicable for the present site.
Man-induced events include accidents due to
i)                    Air traffic        ii)Vehicular road traffic
ii)                   Industrial and Military activities in the immediate vicinity of the site.
Capability of dispersion in air and water are studied for possible radiological impact on environment. The availability of adequate cooling water supply for the ultimate Heat Sink is the central safety issue.  Feasibility of implementing effective emergency actions has also been considered.
2.1.2 NON-SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
        (Economic, Technical, Environmental and Social Aspects)
These are primarily related to engineering feasibility.  However, some of the factors may indirectly be related to the safety of the NPP.
The factors considered are:   i)Electricity network  ii)Availability of cooling water iii) Transport routes
iv) Topography   v)Industrial support at site  vi) Non-radiological impact on the environment (e.g.. chemical and thermal pollution, industrial growth and its impact etc.)
2.1.3  OBSERVATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
The committee has studied all site related data submitted by NPC (3,4,5) and has, in accordance with the criteria mentioned above, made a review of the suitability of the Kudankulam site for locating nuclear power station having two units of 1000 MWe VVER reactor.
The review findings are presented in Tables I and II
3.0  ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN:
 The committee recommends that the following actions should be taken at appropriate stages.
3.1.  ASPECTS RELATED TO SITE
1)      ODC committee of NPC to evaluate suitability of transportation of ODC at design stage
2)      Maximum Flood Level should be estimated accurately considering IAEA safety Guide 50-SG-S10B.  Revised report of CWPRS should be submitted to Design Safety Committee.
3)      Analysis for the quality of construction water is to be carried out.
4)      In order to enhance additional reliability for water Supply, which is essential for functioning of various safety systems of the reactor, intake well at Pechiparai Dam should be provided at lower elevation than the minimum draw-down level of the reservoir.  However, it should be ensured by proper management of water distribution that the water level is maintained above this minimum level.
5)      Adequate storage of fresh water for prolonged safe shutdown of the reactors is to be provided within plant boundary for safety related systems.  Ground water source should be explored.
6)      Environmental Survey laboratory should be set up at site and instruments are to be installed at site to collect meteorological data and background radiation.
7)      Site related design considerations such as seismic aspects, etc are to be established before submission of PSAR.
8)      The committee has been informed that detail subsoil investigations have been carried out (12).  Bore-hole investigations are to be carried out at the proposed location of various buildings and structures.  The report should be forwarded to design group for taking into account at the time of actual design.
9)      Power evacuation studies particularly that influence the plant grid interaction should be persued.  Feasibility of operation on islanding mode may be studied in collaboration with CEA.  In addition availability of a reliable (dedicated) startup power source of adequate capacity should be examined.
10)   Stipulations made by various state and central authorities in giving clearance, should be met.  In addition, plantation in the area under control of the project should be taken up along with site development.
11)    Tamilnadu legislation to control population growth beyond natural growth within the sterilized zone is to be implemented.
12)   Termination of the lease in 1994 for lime stone quarry.
3.2 ASPECTS RELATED TO DESIGN:
1.       Radiological impact should be assessed with proper source terms and relevant dispersion characteristics of the site.  Dose limits prescribed should be met at a distance of 1.6km in event of greater exclusion radius adopted by NPC.
2.       Stack height to be checked by Health Physics Division,BARC, considering topography and dispersion characteristics.
3.        Model studies should be taken up for intake and outfall structure for thermal pollution and recirculation.
4.       Studies on Biofouling and jelly-fish etc. that may affect the water supply should be taken up.
5.       Studies on accretion/erosion rate around the plant site should be carried out.  If required, proper protection should be provided.
6.       Design should be engineered to meet site related design basis events.
7.        Atleast two evacuation routes from plant site during an emergency should be provided.
 4.0 RECOMMENDATIONS:
The committee is of the opinion that Kudankulam site meets the major criteria for siting 2 x 1000 MWe VVER units.  The Committee at the same time recommends that the observations made in the preface and the actions recommended in Section 3 above need to be implemented at appropriate stages.
REFERENCES
1.       IAEA – Code of Practice on Safety in Nuclear Power Plant Siting.  IAEA Safety Series No.50-C-S International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 1979
2.       Site Survey for Nuclear Power Plants.  IAEA Safety series No. 50-SG-S9.  IAEA(1984)
3.       Environmental data on proposed Kudankulam site for submission to Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board for 2 x 1000 MWe VVER nuclear power station.
4.       Write up on Kudankulam site – DAE
5.       Siting data in AERB standard format.  (Received from NPC vide letter NPC/KK/24/1032, dt.7-3-89
6.       Layout of main plant building for 2 x 1000 MWe VVER project at Kudankulam
7.       CWPRS Pune Report: “Safe Grade Elevation for the proposed nuclear power station at Kudankulam,  Tamilnadu
8.       Draft report on Earthquake design basis for Kudankulam site, DAE, 1988 – A.K Ghosh and DC Banerjee.
9.       Appendix to Part-I of Site Selection Committee report
10.   Power Transmission system for Kudankulam Atomic Power Project -CEA report
11.   Letter NPC/KK/24 dated 16-3-89 received from NPC
12.   Brief note from NPC on “Geological setup of Kudankulam site”.
T A B L E -1
SALIENT FEATURES OF KUDANKULAM SITE CONSIDERED DURING SITE EVALUATION
S.No.
Site characteristics Influencing the NPP
Specification/Desirable Characteristics
Observations for Kudankulam site
Remarks
1
Topography
Plain topography
Plain topography-elevation+3m to 45m above MSL.  Area measuring 1Km to 2Km available (3), (6)
Terrain suitable sufficient land available for future expansion
2
Accessibility
i) Nearest Broadgauge rail head
Kanyakumari(27Km), Valliyur (27Km)
Recommendation for ODC transport
1)All consignments/equipments with weight (30Ton: USSR-tutitorin by ship Tuticorin-site: by road or on barges by sea route
2) All consignments (30 ton USSR-site: by ship and barges. To be unloaded at jetty within the plant
ii)Nearest National Highway
NH7 at Kanyakumari 27Km, Valliyur 27Km,
iii) Nearest Seaport
 Tuticorin (100Km)
iv) Nearest district road
Coastal road 4Km
3
Construction Facilities
i)Construction materials
Coarse aggregates available at Anjugrarer (4km).  Sand available at Ratucenathjewari   road (7km) Bricks available at Panagudi (27km)
More sources will be established at construction stage.
ii)Construction power
26KVA +2 KVA for township
Panagudi sub-station (27Km)  – 110KV line exists. 110KV line from Kodyar power station is also being considered.
iii)Construction water
3.5 cu.sec (350 cu.m per hour
Initially limited supply to be tapped from ground water sources.  Subsequently the demand will be met from Pechiparai dam
Quality of construction water is likely to be acceptable.  Analysis of water will be carried out.
iv)Infrastructure facilities (e.g minor workshop etc)
Nagercoil (30km) and Tuticorin (100km)
4
Availability of Power Supply and Transmission Lines
i)Start-up Power
50KVA per unit
Available from main state grid and Tuticorin Thermal Power Station Plant (630MW) 220KV line to be drawn from Tuticorin.
ii)Power evacuation scheme
Feasible as per preliminary study conducted by CEA.  Detail study is in progress
Present grid capacity 12832 MWe.  Nuclear 470MWe. Projected capacity in 1995 will be 27541MWe.  Nuclear  1910 MWe
5
Availability of Water
i)Condenser cooling
6000 Cu sec
(on once-through basis)
Sea water cooling on once-through basis silt content:60-100 ppm Particle size75 microns.Temperature:26-29 oC
No constraint. Titanium tubes will be used.  Study on biofouling and jelly fish that may affect the water supply will be taken at design stage.  Model study will be taken up for intake and outfall structure(5)
ii)Fresh water for make-up and domestic use
10 cu sec
Assured by State Government.  One pipeline from Pechiparai dam (at 65km) to be laid. pH:7.  Dissolved solids:25mg/litre,  Suspended solids:negligible, Turbidity:5mg/l (5)
Dam storage 4.45 TMC ft. Dead storage can account for 3 years drought (5)
6
Township
400 acres
400 acres of land identified near Chettikulam village about 7km from the site (3)
TABLE-2    SITE CHARACTERISTICS AFFECTING SAFETY OF PLANT
S.No.
Site Characteristics Influencing the NPP
Specification/Desirable Characteristics
Observations for Kudankulam site
Remarks
1
Geology
i)Foundation conditions depths of bed rock and type
Bed rock at 5-16m below ground. Biotite granite genesis with lenticular bodies of charnockites or quartzites
ii) Strength
Maximum intensity of loading 6kg/sq.cm at RB
Dry strength : 650kg/sq.cm
Wet strength: 450 kg/sq.cm(5)
iii)Ground water
Below 1m
5-8 m below ground – gradient towards sea (5)
2.
Natural events:
i)Coastal erosion
Erosion insignificant with respect to life of station. Nearest main plant structure from shore about 120m away from the sea base line
Layout for the main plant still under consideration figure of 120 tons estimate on the basis on 7 ton as the ground elevation at main plant building.
ii)Flood
Maximum flood level considering tidal range wave run-up and maximum stage surge 5.9m above chart datam of 0.0 Exposed structures placed well above this level. (7)
Grade level around Reactor Building will be above 7m from MSL.
Revised report on MFL from CWPRS awaited.  Grade elevation will be changed if necessary.
iii)Tsunami
Not significant as per preliminary report of CWPRS
1m height of wave considered due to tsunami effect.
iv)Wind, storm, Cyclone
Maximum speed of storm:112km/hr. Storm surge accounted for in flooding. Exceedance probability 5% as per preliminary repsort from CWPRS.
Engineering capability to design for wind load exists.
v)Slope instability
Not applicable for rocky substrata
Vi)Soil liquefaction
Not applicable for rocky substrata
vii)Seismotectonic environment
No active fault within 5km of NPP. Engineering capability for stipulated earthquake acceleration should be possible
No active fault within 5km. Site is in seismic zoneII as per IS 1893; 1984. Nearest epicenter at Trivandrum (90km) earthquake in the region.
Magnitude 6 at Coimbatore (8 Feb, 1900) (300 km) Estimated peak horizontal acceleration for SSE is 0.15g and for OBE is 0.06g.
Engineering capability to design for such earthquake loads exists. Seismic evaluation report finalized after discussion with GSI and Soviet Specialists.  Further ground checks have confirmed the assumptions regarding the nearest
PAGE – 13 MISSING
5.
Use of Land
Within in the exclusion zone: 34% of area lies in sea.  Remaining 650-750 ha of land (no forest), mostly private owned, is barren and unirrigated/poorly cultivable.  Extremely limited agriculture.  Annual yield: 20 tons of  millet and 2 tons of cotton
Within 10km radius area: 60% of area lies in Sea. Remaining land is barren or used for agriculture.  Annual yield:Paddy 14400 tons, millet 4300 tons, chillir 3000 tonnes, tobacco 380 tons, pulses 830 tons, cotton 250 tons, oil seeds 70 tons (4)
A lime stone quarry of about 70 acres falls within the sterilized zone.  The lease for this area expires in 1994.  Termination of the lease beyond the period has been requested.
6.
Use of Water
Ground water, limited in supply is used for drinking andhas a gradient towards the sea.  No salt pans within 5km. The degree of development of fisheries is as common as in a coastal belt.   In the near by area, indinthakarai, Koothapuzh, Koothankuzhi and Perurranal are the fishing villages within 20km and annual fish produce of about 4000 tons in the area is reported.  About 3900 fisherman in these villages are engaged infishing as per information furnished in 1982.  At Chinneruttar near Kanyakumari, a fishing harbor is being developed. (4)
7.
Disposal of Radioactive waste from the NPP
i)Solid waste
Low level solid waste to be buried within exclusion zone in leak-proof RCC vaults/trenches/tile holes.  160-180 m cu per year of  cemented waste including spent absorption materials, 40m cu/yr of compacted waste and 5 m cu/yr of cemented ash will be generated from one reactor (5)
Borewells surrounding the solid waste burial area will be provided for monitoring migration of activities.
ii)Liquid waste
To be diluted to 2 x 10E-7 micro Ci/ml when discharged into the sea.
Most of the radioactivity in the liquid is removed in the Ion exchange resin and as evaporator concentrate.  After above processing the liquid effluent from two units is estimated as 6000 m Cu/year with activity levels lesser or equal to 10E-9 Ci/l.  This will be further diluted by condenser cooling water to meet the limits allowed by AERB
6000 cusecs of sea water available for dilution while sea water less than 1 cusec required to achieve the specified limits.
iii)Gas release
Stack height is 100m. Use of high efficiency (0.3 micron) particulate absolute filter will help to comply with authorized limits for particulate activity. The estimated gaseous discharges from two units as following.
Nuclides          Avg daily
                       Releases
                       Ci/day
Noble gases–       2220
I-131             30 x 10E-4
Long life             0.012
Nuclides
Short life            0.26
nuclides
It is understood that specific detailed information regarding waste and radioactive releases will be available along with PSAR for review
8
Radiological
Impact
i)during normal operation
AERB prescribed limits
Based on releases vide para7, preliminary estimates indicate very low dose rates 11.24 mrem/yr to the individual at 1.6km exclusion radius.  Both the water and air routes have been considered in the above estimates.
ii)During design basis accident conditions
10 rem for whole body, 50 rem for child thyroid at exclusion radius
For all design basis accidents adequate engineering safety features shall be  provided to meet the specified requirements.
DBA calculations will be carried out at the design stage
9
Thermal Pollution
Not significant.  Intake and outfall will be well separated.  Depth of sea water and large dilution due to sea will avoid thermal pollution
Model studies will be carried out at CWPRS Pune.  The requirements of Tamilnadu pollution Control Board should be met
10
Storage and Transportation of Fresh and spent fuel
Space for storage of fresh fuel for 5 years plus one core charge will be provided.  Each unit layout can store spent fuel of 5 reactor years in the spent fuel pool located inside the containment.  Besides this space will be available to unload one core inventory.
50 ton of spent fuel will be discharged annually from the 2 reactors.  After adequate cooling inside the pool, it will be shipped to Soviet Union by sea route in hermatically sealed casks.  Special jetty provided within the plant area will be used for transfer of cask to the Soviet ships so that spent fuel remains within plant boundary at all stages during the process of shipment of irradiated.
11
Fuel Reprocessing facility
Reprocessing not planned at this site
12.
Population considerations
i) Population within 2km radius exclusion zone
No habitation
No resident population
ii)Population within 5km radius sterilized zone
Less than 26,000 population density (2/3  state average.
Total population:15,000, 3 villages in this area Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and Erukkanatharam
Tamilnadu legislation to control population growth beyond natural growth within the sterilized zone to be implemented.
iii)Population within 10km radius zone
No center >10,000
No population centre with more than 10,000 people.  total population 40,842 (1961 census). Population density:130 persons/sq.km
iv)Population within 30km radius zone
No center >1,00,000
No population center with more than 1 lakh people.  11 centers have population more than 10,000  Nagercoil (at 30 km has a population of 1,71,641.
v) Population within 50km radius zone
33 population centers with population more than 10,000 (4)
13
Emergency Preparedness Considerations
3 routes exist for possible evacuation.  Schools and other public buildings exist for adequate temporary shelter, nagercoil (30km), Tirunelveli (100km) and Tuticorin (100km) can providerehabilitation medical facilities and administrative support
Draft proposal on off-site emergency preparedness plans already submitted to AERB.
14.
 Additional Statutory requirements of the Central and State Government
Clearance for the following has been obtained:
Tamilnadu pollution control Board, Shore protection committee of Tamilnadu Government, State Committee on Environment, Minister of Environment and Forests (Government of India)
Stipulations made in the clearance documents should be adhered to.

Previous Older Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,233 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,762,960 hits

Archives

October 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
%d bloggers like this: