Community Awareness Meetings 127 meetings PDS, Agriculture, Cooperative loans, self Help Groups, Social entitlements Outcome: RTI applications by community, regular follow-up, verification of responses at community level Community meeting – Bamnia- Beladi Community meeting- Ranga Community meeting- Chekya
Other awareness actions: IEC materials: RTI booklets and leaflets printed and distributed Wall writings: On RTI act and allotments in Govt schemes Sansad meetings, participation in social decision makings, planning process, policy making
Continued Advocacy: Meetings on Food rights with food department, SI of schools, BDO, GP Pradhans and Secretaries and PS Sabhapati at Bagmundi and Jhalda II blocks. Meetings with Jt. BDO, Pradhans on NREGS at Bagmundi. Telephone Counseling for RTI filings: +913252250381 from 10 am to 5 pm. On an average 2-3 phone calls received daily. In some cases villagers meet the counselor for suggestions.
Reactions: Block Dev Office BDO is very supportive Joint BDO has once given manipulated visit reports against the investigation done on NREGS work. Panchayat Secretary of Bagmundi has provided false official statement on NREGS related quarries done by Mr. Somnath Singharoy. Panchayat Secretaries: Extremely unsupportive. Delaying tactics, misinformation.
Reactions: Food Officer Misled people in response to query about loans taken from banks for implementation of Government food schemes Referred them to the banks, who had no info Later referred them to the District authorities, who also had no info Drove someone out of his office when he asked for receipt of Rs. 5 charged as a price for new ration card application.
Reactions: Food Office, now... After repeated applications, State Information Commissioner's intervention, order from BDO, media flash, public demand, wall writing, display boards with information have been put up But there are many areas where this is yet to happen
The case of Paran Chandra Mahato Moral of the story: Repeated follow-ups ultimately leads to success Resident of Rigid GP, Jhalda II block 26 Feb '09: Filed an RTI application for copies of BPL, AAY, IAY, NOAPS and Unnayan Samiti lists and resolution of Gram Sansad meetings where these lists and Samiti's are drafted Response from GP: File separate application for each question with Rs. 10 fee for each application
13 Apr '09: Paran filed an appeal with the Appellate Authority for information about the section of RTI act that describes when one needs to file separate applications The first appellate authority, BDO, ordered the Panchayat Pradhan to respond to Paran's queries. But the Pradhan still didn't respond 25 Jun '09: Paran filed his second appeal with the State Information Commissioner 10 Jul '09: SIC ordered Panchayat Pradhan to respond to Paran's queries
27 Nov '09: Pradhan informed SIC that the applicant had to deposit self-addressed envelope and photocopy charges for the information he requested But acc. to RTI Act, the office cannot claim any charge if the information is given after 30 days Paran wrote to the SIC about the above clause and the intentional delay caused by the GP SIC ordered the GP and the BDO to furnish all info to Paran in 7 days' time, and send a copy to the Commissioner
Panchayat Secretary then admitted that the Sansad committees had never been formed, and no such meetings were ever held Paran has now filed a new RTI application to know about the Govt. schemes that have been passed, are running and who are the beneficiaries, to know how these schemes are running without the approval of the Gram Sansad, since the approving committees do not exist Who has given approval to these schemes and how?! Paran is still fighting his battle!
Fighting Corruption in Panchayat: Goyasur Majhi Resident of Gobindapur, Bagmundi block Filed an application to the BDO asking for total number of Job cards issued in the Block, whether they all have photos, if not, how many of them don't? NREGS Act requires attachment of photos with Job cards BDO said Panchayats have been “asked to” attach photos to existing Job cards
But generally he bypassed the questions Shri Majhi asked for photocopies of communication letters, also which are the Panchayats that have started attaching photos, how mane job cards have been affixed with photos He also asked the BDO to display a copy of the master role at the place of the work so that the workers could all check if it were really their co- workers who were actually working there He also asked how to organise public hearings in the area to prevent corruption by the BDO (Yes, he asked the BDO this! :D)
The BDO has been avoiding his questions, at times responding to some of his repeated applications in English, which he doesn't follow But again, the fight is on!!
The Road that was never built! Somnath SinghaRoy of Booth No. 3, Bagmundi Panchayat, Baghmundi Block filed the complaint with the BDO A road-repairing was sanctioned under NREGS from Rajbati Durgamandir to Satyanarayan Mura's house 7 Nov '09: Complaint filed 9 Nov '09: BDO asked Pradhan for information, and a copy of the communication was forwarded to the applicant
7 Dec '09: He filed an application with the PIO at Baghmundi Panchayat, under NREGS disclosure clause, asking for a copy of the sanctioned order, the master roll and payment vouchers, the supervisor, and the copy of Quality Authentication Certificate by sub-Assistant Engineer of Baghmundi 9 Dec '09: Same application filed with BDO 15 Dec '09: BDO said Panchayat would respond, but Panchayat Secretary furnished only copy of master roll and the sanction of order 16 Dec '09: Mass application filed at District Council, 59 applicants
As a result, BDO was ordered to investigate Turned out that, on paper, Satyanarayan Mura's house was shown to be at some other address, where some work had happened, and thus the paperwork had been manipulated BDO claimed that Sri Mura's house was in “both” Sansads! Mr SinghaRoy challenged the explanation, and published all of this in Purulia Darpan, a local daily This led to public pressure, and restart of the actual road construction under full public monitoring
1 st phase of road construction was completed on 16 may '10 This incident has encouraged local community to be more vocal against such systemic injustice The forgery case will be taken up once the road construction is completed, and workers have been paid This is a successful example that the Mura community (SC and ST) has got the road construction work after 10 years, through voice of the locality!
Going Forward Continuing the work the way it has been done till now Major focus for next 6 months: NREGS wage guarantee Mobilize people's participation in the upcoming Gram Sansad's meeting in June when a lot of decisions will be made regarding NREGS work A pilot initiative of getting students from the community to mobilize villagers file RTIs and increase the volume of applications