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  1. #1

    Default At times, when RTI does not work

    As reported by Santosh K Kiro in telegraphindia.com on 27 April 2008:
    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Jharkhand | At times, when RTI does not work

    At times, when RTI does not work

    Ranchi, April 26: Three years after a travel agency booked air tickets for JMM chief Shibu Soren, the then chief minister of Jharkhand, it is yet to get the payment.

    The agency knocked on the door of every department of the chief minister’s secretariat. It even sought the cause behind the delay of the payment under the Right to Information (RTI) Act apart from enquiring at various levels, including the office of the state chief information commissioner. But all these exercises proved futile.

    “Soon after Soren became chief minister, his office booked some air tickets for Delhi, from me. But as soon as Soren lost his chair, the payment was forgotten,” said Ram Prasad Jalan, owner of Garima Air Travels.

    Jalan said he made several rounds of the chief minister’s secretariat seeking the payment of the dues, but it was not made. He has to get Rs 50,000 from the government for his tickets.

    Soren had been installed the chief minister for nine days after the last Assembly elections in 2005. He resigned after he could not prove his majority in the Assembly.

    Jalan was recalling his plight at a jan sunwai (public hearing) organised jointly by Jharkhand Right to Information Forum (Ranchi) and Media, Information and Communication Centre of India (Delhi) (MICCI) on the premises of Vikas Bharati, an NGO, here on Saturday.

    He asked the chief minister’s secretariat on April 19, 2007, under RTI Act as to when he would get the payment.

    “The secretariat said that the payment would be made within a year,” said Jalan.

    Later, he also placed an application at the office of the state chief information commissioner inquiring as to why the payment was not being made. Ironically, the one-year time span given by the chief minister’s secretariat for Jalan’s payments has elapsed, but he is yet to receive the money.

    Sunil Mahto, a young man of Silli block in Ranchi district, had sought information under RTI in 2007 as to which were the roads that had been constructed in the region during 2004-05 and how much money had been spent.

    “The PWD officers informed me that a total of Rs 62 crore had been paid to the contractors concerned for the construction of Bundu-Rahe-Pantahazam and three other small road stretches,” said Mahto.

    Twitter: @cjkarira

  2. #2

    Default Re: At times, when RTI does not work

    As reported by Amit Gupta in telegraphindia.com on 16 September 2008:
    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | <I>Janata </I>boomerang at Soren <I>durbar</I>

    Janata boomerang at Soren durbar
    - Travel agent shows up with unpaid bills of CM and his men

    Ranchi, Sept. 15: The first complaint to come up today at Shibu Soren’s maiden janata durbar — a routine PR exercise chief ministers indulge in to put a shine on their public face — was against himself.

    A local travel agent came up with the stunning revelation that bills worth Rs 1.76 lakh for the air travel of Soren and his confidants in 2005, during his first stint as chief minister, were yet to be cleared by the government.

    “Air travel bills of Rs 1.76 lakh are pending since March 2005. The services of Indian Airlines was availed of by Soren, Bandhu Tirkey (HRD minister), A. Devi and others. Trips were made to Delhi and Patna but they forgot or simply did not care to pay my bills,” alleged Ram Prasad Jalan, proprietor of Garima Air Travel here.

    Unluckily for Jalan, Soren hadn’t taken his chair at the public hearing when he was there, but embarrassed officials at the chief minister’s secretariat went into a mad scramble to silence the travel agent.

    Jalan was bundled out of the durbar with the assurance that his bills would be cleared. Later, Soren told The Telegraph his allegations would be looked into. “Justice,” he said, “will be done to everybody.” Documents in Jalan’s possession suggested that tickets were booked by the chief minister’s office for air travel on 7, 9 and 11 March 2005 — the time when Soren was chief minister and his tenure lasted all of nine days. The aggrieved businessmen added he had approached the chief minister’s secretariat, the finance department and even routed an application using the Right to Information Act (RTI). But nothing came of his efforts.

    “In business money comes and goes. I could not meet the chief minister today as I was removed from the place. They told me if anyone now asked about pending bills, I should keep my mouth shut. I have been promised early payment,” Jalan told this correspondent. Jalan’s bills were for the air travel of Soren and his entourage: Rs 35,000 (on 7, March 2005), Rs 29,170 (9, March 2005) and Rs 1,11, 985 (11, March 2005). Apart from Soren, those who travelled on the tickets were G. Singh, Bandhu Tirkey, A. Devi, M. R. N. Ansari and B. Chatterjee.


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