MUMBAI: More than two years after the setting up of Chief Minister's Relief Fund for July 26, 2005 flood victims in Maharashtra, the details of disbursal of money are not yet available, an application under Right To Information Act notwithstanding.

Unprecedented rains and floods had claimed hundreds of lives across the state, majority of them in the commercial capital, in the last week of July 2005.

Information about Prime Minister's Relief Fund for Tsunami victims can be accessed, but state bureaucracy is stonewalling a similar request regarding CM's Fund, RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi said.

Gandhi's application, dated October 26, 2007 that sought information on flood relief work was rejected by the Public Information Officer concerned as well as the appellate authority above. Now his appeal is pending before a full bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Suresh Joshi.

The bench was slated to hold a hearing on Friday, but government sought time, saying Advocate General Ravi Kadam, who would argue in the matter, was away.

However, Gandhi alleged that these were 'delaying tactics'.

"Is Advocate General the only government lawyer who can argue in this case?" Gandhi asked. The hearing has been now deferred by a month.

"The Information Commissioners of Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad had come to Mumbai for the hearing, but government played for time," he said.

Gandhi had sought names of the institutions which got more than Rs 50,000 for flood relief work, and the specific amounts. But the information was denied on the ground that CM's Relief Fund was not a 'public authority', but a public trust, and hence outside RTI's purview.

The next appellate officer held that revealing information would amount to breach of Legislative Assembly's privileges.

However, Gandhi has pointed out that Central Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah had ruled information on Prime Minister's Tsunami Fund, sought by Gandhi himself, could be made available, as the fund was governed by the PMO.

DNA - Mumbai - No account for 26/7 funds - Daily News & Analysis

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