Nawanshehar NGO tries RTI Act on Punjab MLA's performance

NAWANSHEHAR: Elected Repersentatives! Sit up and work as your own performance as MLA, MP or minister is now open to public scrutiny, thanks to the Right to Information Act, 2005 which has empowered the common man to the hilt.

The Nawanshahr-based Human Empowerment League of Punjab (HELP) has shown this by getting information about the performance of all the three MLAs-Jatinder Singh Kariha, Mohan Lal Behram and Chaudhary Nand Lal, all Akalis- representing the district, under the Act.

The organisation had sought from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariat as to what were the questions posed by these MLAs during the previous two sessions of the Sabha and how much time they had spent in Vidhan Sabha during the sessions.

According to information received from the Secretariat, Nawanshahr MLA Jatinder Singh Kariha had given notices for 21 questions out of which eight were orally answered on the floor of the house while three were replied separately. Four notices of questions were not put, five were disallowed and reply of one question was not received, says the information provided by PIO, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Chandigarh.

As to the questions, Kariha had sought information about the total area of land belonging to historical Baradari constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh along with the area of its land under unauthorised occupation at present. Kariha had also asked whether there was any proposal under the consideration of the government to set up a museum in the name of the Maharaja in the Baradari complex.

Kariha had also asked questions related to Desilting of Bist Doab Canal, steps being taken by the government to check accidents caused by dead trees along the main roads in the district, creation of posts at the district headquarters after the elevation of the town as district, availability of artificial semen in veterinary dispensaries in the state, details of the steps to improve the breed of milch cattle, upgradation of civil hospital in Nawanshahr, reinstatement of Panchayat Secretaries during the period 2002-06 and whether there was any proposal to run a separate institute of higher education in the field of IT in the premises of local ITI. Except for the last day of session in March, Kariha remained present in the house during the sessions.

The list of questions asked by Balachaur MLA Chaudhary Nand Lal included information about the installation of new tubewells and release of power questions to the tubewells for irrigation in his constituency, whether there was any proposal to open a government college in Balachaur and whether there were any plans to lay a sewerage system in the town. Lal who remained present throughout both the sessions, had also sought to know whether the state government was aware of the damaging of crops by stray animals in his constituency. Lal who is a Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the Badal government, had asked six questions during the first session out of which four were orally answered on the floor of the house, one was disallowed and one lapsed. Lal too was present on all the days during both the sessions.

Banga MLA Chaudhary Mohal Lal, served notices for a total of sixteen questions out of which eight were answered orally on the floor of the house. Three were answered separately, four were disallowed and notice of question was not put for one. The questions put up by this MLA included whether there was any proposal to upgrade Banga as sub-division, any plans to repair some roads in his constituency and any plans to accord Nagar Panchayat status to Apra and Behram towns. Mohal Lal too attended all the sessions of the Vidhan Sabha.

According to HELP activists Gurvir Singh, Charanjit Singh Bheen and Parvinder Singh Kittna while some people considered the performance of their MLAs as satisfactory, others considered them a "waste of time". Some social activists however, rued that no questions were asked related to social issues like female foeticide, drugs and problems like increasing traffic congestion in the district. - Nawanshehar NGO tries RTI Act on Punjab MLA's performance