गुरुवार, 27 जनवरी 2011

How to save RTI activists from Builders’ & Politicians attacks

Dear fellow activists,

Exposing the wrongdoings of builders and land-grabbers is probably the most dangerous enterprise that we RTI activists are undertaking in large numbers. Tuesday’s stabbing of activist Vikrant Karnik in Thane is the latest in a series of such incidents. We have so far failed to come together and formulate an adequate response to thwart the nexus between builder-politician-bureaucrat-gangster-police. However, we feel that it is feasible to do so. Please consider these ideas:

1)      ENFORCE SUO MOTO DISCLOSURE BY LICENSE-GIVING AUTHORITIES U/S 4(1)(B) OF RTI ACT: Individuals would not become targets of such attacks if the information were publicly available i.e. if suo-moto disclosure was scrupulously practiced by the departments concerned with land and building activity. The bodies issuing various licenses and clearances are:
·         Urban Development and Revenue departments of State govt
·         Building Proposal and Building & Factories department of municipal corporations
·         Registrar of Cooperatives
·         MHADA
·         MMRDA
·         Environment Ministry in State and at Centre

So we RTI Activists must put pressure on the government to implement Section 4 in these departments first. ALL PLANS SUBMITTED, PERMISSIONS & NOCS APPLIED FOR AND GRANTED, AND ALL RELATED CORRESPONDENCE, MUST BE UPLOADED TO THEIR WEBSITES WITHIN 15 DAYS. As Maharashtra is currently drafting its e-governance policy, let us ask for this on a war-footing.

2)      UNIONIZE RTI ACTIVISTS INTERESTED SPECIFICALLY IN LAND & BUILDING ISSUES. (Last year, we made an attempt to form a federation of RTI activists. From its failure, we learned some valuable lessons. So we are now proposing a more focused and less ambitious.) What we are now proposing to you is a union of RTI activists involved in exposing illegal building and land-grabbing activities. The Union should have ONLY TWO PURPOSES:
(i)                 TO PRESSURE THE GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT SECTION 4 in the above-mentioned government bodies
(ii)               TO FILE PROXY RTI APPLICATIONS ON BEHALF OF INDIVIDUAL RTI APPLICANTS concerning all land and building activities.

We feel that this union should charge an annual membership fee of about Rs 1,000 to ensure good quality of members and their continued involvement, plus an initial admission fee of about Rs 2,000. In return for this payment, the office-bearers will file RTI applications in their own names, attending appeal hearings, drafting replies etc. on behalf of members. They may also motivate volunteers within the Union to do this, but if they fail to do so, the responsibility should be theirs alone. The funds collected should be used for the paperwork, conveyance, legal battles if necessary, and honorarium to those who actually do the work.

To discuss the modalities of forming the Union described above, YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO A MEETING NEAR GRANT ROAD STATION (WEST) ON FEBRUARY 3, THURSDAY. Venue: BOMBAY SARVODAYA MANDAL, right-hand side at the end of bhaji gully opposite Grant Road Station, near Nana Chowk.

PLEASE NOTE: This meeting is strictly for forming the above-mentioned union. No other discussion will be entertained.  

G R Vora 98691 95785
Krish 98215 88114

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