Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Govt gives incomplete info on Vikas Yatra sought under RTI

PATNA: The Bihar government is not aware about the expenditure incurred during CM Nitish Kumar's much publicised month long `Vikas Yatra' in
different districts during February. Bihar's cabinet secretariat in a RTI query by TOI said that it would not be possible for the department to furnish expenditure details of the Yatra as it was coordinated efforts of various departments.

The RTI took more than two months to furnish this `incomplete' information. TOI submitted its application seeking expenditure details to the CM secretariat during the Yatra on February 4.

On February 25, public information officer (PIO), CM secretariat, Nripat Mandal sent a letter to TOI stating that this specific question does not come under the purview of CM secretariat. This application has been forwarded to the department concerned, he said.

On April 6, TOI received a reply from the department of cabinet coordination almost after 62 days.

As is evident from the RTI reply given by PIO, cabinet coordination department, Phuleshwar Paswan, the information hardly gives any insight into the expenditure incurred on the Yatra. Incidentally, giving incomplete, misleading or vague information is tantamount to denial of information to the applicant attracting penalty under RTI Act 2005 Section 20 (1).

TOI, however, is going by the rules and has filed an application with the appellate authority of the cabinet coordination department expecting a reply which would really throw some light on the expenditure front of the much publicised Yatra.

According to information given by Paswan, the services of department of disaster management, Central Jail, Buxar and tents and shamiana available in police stations were utilised for accommodation during the Yatra.

The resources available in the department of forest and environment were used for the fencing of the entire premises during the stay in the remote areas. Similarly, the services of the Bihar State Electricity Board for power supply and public health and engineering department for cleanliness were availed during the Yatra.

The food during the Yatra was arranged by the canteen of Bihar secretariat at a subsidised rate. The Yatra was organized at the minimum cost and with the available resources in various departments.

The RTI reply to the TOI query said it would contact officials concerned posted in districts to know the expenditure details. Interestingly, the matter related to the expenditure details of the Yatra had come up in the recently concluded budget session of the Bihar Legislative Council. The government could not give details of expenditure while replying to a question.

Source : Times of India