Pune, August 18: The state government’s approval a fortnight ago to the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), one of the mandatory reforms to seek funds under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, will make no difference to the manner in which the Pune Municipal Corporation holds its standing committee meetings.

Under RTI Act one can get information only if the person asks for it whereas the intention of the PDA is to have all information accessible to the public regarding the dealings of the urban local bodies.

However, the PMC authorities are clear that they want to keep intact the secrecy that surrounds its standing committee meetings. “We cannot allow media or common public to attend meetings or access the proceedings of our meetings. The state cabinet is not open for media and the public. This is a small cabinet and its secrecy should be maintained,” said Bapu Pathare, chairman of the standing committee.

Pune Municipal Commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi supported Pathare. “The decisions made in the standing committee are made available to the public and the media. There should be some private space available to discuss important things. And to be fair to the committee they should get this privacy,” said Pardeshi.

The functioning of the standing committee had come under a cloud time and again over the way in which it approved various tenders. The functioning of the committee is as per the BPMC Act, said Pathare.
“If the media and the public want information we are ready to give it. But we cannot make open our discussions,” Pathare said.

Civic activist Vijay Kumbhar said the time has come to break the air of secrecy that shrouds the functioning of the standing committee. “The PMC authorities should make it clear as to which law provides for keeping the media and the public from witnessing the proceedings of the standing committee” he said.

“The civic authorities should change their mindset and support efforts towards proper dissemination of information. Puneites have every right to know what is happening to the money they pay as tax,” Kumbhar added.

PD Act cuts no ice with PMC