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Right to Ignore

Despite State Information Commissioner’s order, Planning Department yet to upload the information pertaining to utilization of funds through MLALAD online.

Right-to-IgnoreNatarajan Krishnamurthy a RTI activist had filed a RTI application with the Maharashtra State Information Commission to seek information about MLA Prakash Mehta’s utilization of funds from MLALAD. Krishnamurthy had sought information for the funds utilization for the years 2009 t0 2013 and the suo motu disclosure on websites. Even though State Information Commissioner for Greater Mumbai Ajit Kumar Jain had ordered Planning Department to upload the information pertaining to utilization of funds through MLALAD online but no information is available till date.

NatrajanSpeaking to AV, RTI activist Natarajan Krishnamurthy said, “I had filed two RTIs one at DPO and the other at Mumbai suburban register office. The DPO replied late so I filed FA before FAA. Since the officials failed to reply, I filed my second appeal.”

“Section 4 (2) of the RTI act states that every PA has to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communication so that public have the minimum resort to the use of this act to obtain information” he said.

The allocation of funds meant for MLALAD fund is made through tax-payers money. Every citizen has the right to know how his money is spent by the MLAs.

“We often see that before the election each MLA publishes a book which mentions about the manner in which funds were used in their locality. However, there is a huge discrepancy between the data published by legislators and those available in the government records” said Krishnamurthy.

“The Planning Commission had assured me that the information will be uploaded on website for public scrutiny within three months. However, three months have already passed but they have failed to publish the information online” he added.

There is a need to conduct an audit of how these funds have been utilized on the ground. Over the years, a lot of money has been poured into a lot of welfare schemes. It is time citizens started demanding an audit of the outcome of the money spent so that all can understand if the funds are being optimally utilized. Many times citizens are unaware about how the funds are being utilized for development. MLA’s needs to involve citizen’s group whenever a development work is undertaken.

Every MLA was entitled to Rs 7.75 crore as discretionary fund for the period 2009-14. In 2013-14, the government increased the amount to Rs 2 crore. Mumbai received around Rs 280 crore in this five-year period as MLA Local Area Fund (MLALAD).

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