Thursday, August 30, 2012

Policy issues in respect of RTI Act, 2005.

``Right Every Wrong``              Satyamev Jayte.

M.V.Ruparelia, A503 Rashmi Utsav, Near Jangid Estate & Vijay Park, Mira Road (East) Dist. Thane. 401107. M. 09821732855. E/Mail:
To                                                                                                August 30.2012. 
 Ms Anuradha Chagti, Director, DOPT,
Ministry of Personnel, Pensions & Public Grievances,
North Block, New Delhi-110101.
Respected Madam,
Sub: Policy issues in respect of RTI Act, 2005.
Ref: i) My letter dt 21-5-12 to President of India sent to your office on 4-6-12.
       ii) DOPAT/E/2012/00426 dt 25-5-12 forwarded by you to CIC on 21-6-12.
      iii) DOPAT/E/2012/00495 dt 12-6-12.
       iv) DOPAT/E/2012/00221 dt 20-3-12 & ARNPG/E/2012/00111 dt 20-3-12.

1.My letter dt 21-5-12 to President is not yet replied by anyone even after more than 3 months. This was required to be examined in detail by your Ministry, as CIC Office, a Public Authority under Government of India is not following any orders issued by competent authority viz DOPT. This was a specific complaint with full details and specific 2 examples and it was emphatically reported to President that this Public Office and Information Commissioner are not following any rules and not even acting as per RTI Act, 2005 and instructions, guidelines issued by competent authority viz DOPT. Instead of examining at your end, it has been forwarded to the defaulter for giving direct reply to us. No reply has come even after more than 2 months and no reply can be expected from them ever! Instead of repeating whole matter again, I request you to examine the entire representation to President dt 21-5-12 thoroughly and take appropriate action in the interest of Citizens and the Government, as declared goal of Government is: `"Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed".

2. As your Ministry is spending lot on Training of all concerned with RTI Act and encouraging Citizens through media etc to use RTI, we shall be thankful, if you kindly give some training/guidance to us in respect of the following:-
i)  Please, advise for sake of our knowledge whether Offices (NOT CICs themselves, may be they are treated as Judges and permitted to work, as they wish, as in 2 cases brought out in letter to President!) of CIC & President`s Secretariat (NOT the President) are Public Authorities under Government of India and governed by rules & guidelines laid down by DOPT. A copy of President`s Secretariat’s letter no. 1551/RTI/12/10-11 dt 2-8-12 is enclosed, which says that they have no policy for dealing with grievances received from public and representations are just forwarded. Such forwarding can be done by a lower grade clerk, if each representation to the highest authority of the Country is not to be read, examined by officer of appropriate level with proper notings etc in Secretariat and decision taken as to what action is to be taken and then only forwarded to an appropriate level officer with proper directives and target date by which reply to applicant be given. Some procedure is necessary in every office. This may be established in both these offices.
ii) As per Gazette Notification for Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, 2005 as per Sec 27(2) e of RTI Act, 2005 and Guidelines issued by DOPT under their Memorandum no. 1/4/2009-IR  dt 5-10-09,  the Commission has to decide an Appeal/Complaint by inspection of documents produced by the Applicant etc. In these 2 cases, IC had not examined any papers produced with IInd Appeal & Rejoinder (sent by E/Mail & Registered post many days before hearing) and gave speaking orders without examining or mentioning any documents/arguments by applicant and just repeated the incorrect stand taken by CPIO at initial stage that ``It is understood that information on point no.1 & 2 has been provided by Shri G.Subramanian, US & CPIO.`` and similar incorrect remarks for all points!! Representation dt 16-4-12 against this decision dt 12-4-12 is also not considered and it has been advised under letter no. CIC/SM/A/2011/000611/SG dt 3-5-12 that`` the Commission has decided not to take any further action on this matter. The matter is now closed at the commission`s end. ‘This highhandedness, anarchy of not following any rules or principles of Natural Justice and not giving opportunity of hearing require to be examined by your Ministry and remedial action taken. Number of representations received from entire Country against CIC and note from RTI India Web Site sent with representation to President will indicate the necessity of doing something for this anarchy.
iii) Kindly, guide us as to what can be done to get reply to our representations of Public Interest pertaining to Senior Citizens in terms of Para 66 of Office Manual. When we take up non-reply under RTI requesting for status position of receipt and when reply will be given, stock reply is given that status position does not include position in respect of reply under RTI Act and we do not get reply at all even after representing to Ministry of Public Grievance and/ or President. Kindly, advise the Ministry/Authority to whom, we can approach to help get reply and whether Status Position asked under RTI Application includes the reply or at least the position as to when reply will be given  as laid down in para 66 of Office Manual.
iv) As per Notification by Postal Department, nominated Post Masters are CPIOs of all government departments, Public Sector Organizations and Commissions. According to Guide lines by your Ministry, there is no harm to give information, if Application is not accompanied by Fee of Rs 10. Remitting of Fee of Rs 10 & Applications, Appeals to nominated Post Masters is a very good help to Citizens but CPIO of CIC does not accept fee paid to Nominated Post Master for Application. Your Ministry should consider the difficulties of Citizens and issue guidelines that such megre payment of fee to Nominated Post Masters must be accepted by all and Applications treated as valid under RTI Act.
3.Your Portal, while giving Status Position, does not give original complaint or indication as to how to see it. This may be got rectified. We shall be obliged, if copy of our recording for DOPAT/E/2012/00495 dt 12-6-12;  DOPAT/E/2012/00221 dt 20-3-12 & ARNPG/E/2012/00111 dt 20-3-12 are sent to us, as we do not have them.
Thanking You with a hope that Justice will be done,
Yours Sincerely,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Do Our Associations Know?

Do Our Associations Know?                                                 M.V.Ruparelia.
1.      National Policy, 99 has considered Senior Citizens as respected Citizens requiring strengthening of their legitimate place in the Society and has pledged to take all actions to help them to live their last phase of life with Purpose, Dignity and Peace. It has recognized the Senior Citizens as a Resource of the Country. Policy has envisaged that age 60+ is a phase, when individual should have chances and opportunities to lead an active, creative, productive and satisfying life.
2.      Policy has recognized the NGOs as very special & important Institutional Mechanism to provide User-friendly affordable Services to Senior Citizens. Our Associations have to mobilize senior citizens, particulate their interests, promote & undertake programmes and activities for their wellbeing and to advise the Government on all matters relating to senior citizens. There should be continuous dialogue & communication with NGOs on ageing issues. Our Associations are expected to organize various services like Day Care Centres, friendly home visits to older ailing persons, escorting them to hospitals, shopping complexes & other places, satisfy the needs of senior citizens for social interaction, recreation & other activities; organize sensitivity programmes on ageing issues, help them to overcome loneliness, use our professional knowledge, expertise and contacts for needy senior citizens, create awareness about various measures and policies of the government etc.
3.      Do our Associations know what Government has provided to enable Associations to do their part of duties envisaged in Policy, 99? Financial Assistance to the extent of 90% of Recurring & Non-recurring Expenditure for various facilities for Senior Citizens is provided in the Scheme of Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP). The main objective of the Scheme is to improve the quality of life of the Older Persons by providing basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care and entertainment opportunities and by encouraging productive and active ageing through providing support for capacity building of Government / Non-Governmental Organizations / Panchayati Raj Institutions / local bodies and the Community at large. The following facilities can be provided by Associations or through Local Bodies, Educational Institutions, Charitable Hospitals/Nursing Homes, Youth Organizations etc for their area senior citizens.
Sr No
No. of Beneficiary.
Non-recurring  Recurring  
Maintenance of Old Age Homes
1,25,000          5,42,000
More for more beneficiaries.
Maintenance of Respite Homes/Continuous Care Homes
120000            600000
Multi Service Centre
   32000            374000

Mobile Medicare Unit
400 p.m.
-                         296000

Day Care Centre for Older Persons with dementia.
120000              858000
More for more beneficiaries.
Physiotherapy Clinics
700000               236000

Disability & Hearing Aids for Elderly
Per Camp
-                           160000

Mental Health Care camps
Per Camp
-                              9500

Help Line & Counseling
80000                  492000

Sensitization of School/College students
80000                  307000

Regional Resource & Training Centre
112000                663000

Training of Care Givers to older persons
20 Trainees
 60000                 336000

Awareness Projects for older persons
i)Monthly Radio Programme
ii) Street Play Min 2 p.m.
iii)Workshop, Seminar Min 2 p.m.

10000 per event

4000 per programme

Multi Facility Centre for older widowed women
50 women
250000                672000   

Volunteers Bureau for older persons
Min 100 Placements p.a.
 36000                 108000

Formation of Vridha Sanghs/Associations of Senior Citizens/Self Help Groups
Min. 1000 for divisional level
Min 20000 for State Level
50000                 144000

4.      Grant-in-aid is sanctioned to Senior Citizen Associations and Self Help Groups of senior citizens for formation of Vridha Sanghas / Senior Citizen Associations / Self Help Groups at State District and Division levels for mobilization of the senior citizens, articulate their interests, promote and undertake programmes and activities for their well being. Such an association division / district level should have atleast 1000/5000 senior citizens as its members and in case of State level associations; atleast 20,000. The Government will provide financial assistance to the Associations for a maximum period of 5 years (as against 15 years in Policy, 99) within which they are expected to become self-sufficient through contributions and donations. Existing Registered Associations by carrying out above said functions viz mobilization of the senior citizens, articulate their interests, promote and undertake programmes and activities for their well being with membership of 1000 & more can also apply in prescribed form for this grant. Federations at State/UT level having membership of more than 20000 for all registered associations affiliated to them and doing above functions can also apply. Our AISCCON can also apply for their 90% Recurring & Non-recurring expenses on the basis of the membership of all affiliated Federations & Associations (For membership of more than 6 lakh, amount shown above for 20000 can be 30 times, limited to 90% thereof, again limited to 90% of their expenses. All our Associations/Federations & AISCCON can get started any of the above 16 schemes in their areas and get these grants through State Government or pursue local bodies of their areas and get them provided for benefit of all senior citizens of their area. Large amount of funds are provided by Ministry every year but amounts are not fully utilized. This year as much as Rs 1200 crore-Rs. 80 crore exclusively for Old Age Homes under MWPSC Act by States and Rs 40 crore for above items is provided.

Pursue Your Municipalities.

                          Pursue Your Municipalities.                                M.V.Ruparelia.              
1.      You will be wonderstruck to know what Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is doing for Senior Citizens of twin cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad! In 2007, Municipal Commissioner took an extraordinary & unique decision to form an Organization named AASARA (AASARA in Telegu means “helping hand”) under his chairmanship to serve the senior citizens enabling them to lead a healthy, peaceful and dignified life. It encourages senior citizens to take part in volunteering for various support services for the elderly. The motto of AASARA is Equal Rights and Dignity for Elders. AASARA (Registered in 2010) got Best Institute Award for 2010 from Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment for serving senior citizens. This organization is running smoothly with partnership of various NGOs of twin city like Helpage, APSCCON etc. It has 4502 volunteers (General: 2450 and Professional: 2052). A regular meeting of these volunteers is held on every Second Friday of the month for detailed discussions about activities undertaken and to be undertaken. Full details are worth seeing in their Web Site. It provides the following services to all senior citizens of twin cities:-
a)      Help Line (1253) for 24 hours.
b)      Identity/Privilege Cards issued to 54600 senior citizens entitling them for concessions in health care, medicines, entry in gardens, coordination with Police for security etc. AASARA is the first twin city Organization to convince large number of doctors, hospitals, pathologists & chemists to agree to give concessions to senior citizens.
c)      Day Care Centres in 75 places are working with target of 5 per circle to be provided.
d)     All 169 Associations of Senior Citizens in twin cities are covered and are helped in various matters.
e)      It issues a quarterly AASARA NEWS LETTER, a MOUTHPIECE of Senior Citizens of twin city creating awareness amongst all senior citizens of all activities and all issues affecting them.
f)       145 Eye Camps are held, cataract operations arranged and spectacles are supplied free.
g)      Plastic Surgery Camps are arranged.
h)      Geriatric Care with Bed Side Assistance by volunteers is given.
i)        One Mobile Medical Care Unit, donated by Helpage is functioning well.
j)        Community Doctor Concept is encouraged.
k)      Rehabilitation of persons with disability is done by arranging camps and supplying wheel chairs, artificial limbs, walking sticks & surgical operations.
l)        Training for social service is given. 2 lakh plants were planted by senior citizens during Tree Plantation Drive by Corporation.
m)    Action plans are prepared in advance. 18 Circle wise Committees are formed. Women Volunteers Groups are formed. Education to deprived children by senior citizens is arranged. Adoption of slum areas in their vicinity by Associations of Senior Citizens is encouraged.
n)      Insurance coverage of senior citizens is also arranged.
o)      Data base of senior citizens, especially of those living alone by Associations is encouraged.
p)      Categorization of Old Age Homes in twin cities is being done.
GHMC has agreed in principle to give concessions in fare in their buses and orders are awaited.
2.      Some other Local Bodies are also doing their beat, as under. All Local Bodies should be approached by our Associations and pursued vigorously.  In absence of directives from their States, most of Local Bodies have not done anything. Having separate funds & separate status, local bodies can lay down their own policies for welfare of their Elders without waiting for State Directives. All associations must pursue with their local bodies, bringing the the provisions mentioned below of Policy, 99 and work done by various Municipalities to their notice and get as many facilities as necessary provided by them.
i)                    New Delhi Palika Parishad Samaj Kalyan Samiti has started 3 Sr. Citizen's Recreation Centres at Babar Road, East Kidwai Nagar and Laxmi Bai Nagar. These centres have been provided a place for interaction and recreation of Sr. Citizen at membership fee of Rs 10/- per person per month. These centres have been provided with modern facility, furnishing, some indoor games, colour T.V. set and reading materials e.g. daily newspapers and magazines. Pantry arrangement is also made so that tea / coffee could be provided on nominal payment basis. These centres have been provided with coolers and heating systems.
ii)                  New Delhi Palika Parishad Samaj Kalyan Samiti has also provided a Home for senior citizens at Netaji Nagar and Bhagwan Das Lane , New Delhi . This Home fulfills a long felt need in Delhi for a place for the elders of the society, who are economically independent, but, without anyone to look after them in their twilight years. This Home provides accommodation for 52 inmates in single and double rooms with all facilities on payment of a fixed licence fee as fixed by the governing body from time to time. They have also provided  Aaradhana: Senior citizens Home for Women- Bhagwan Dass Lane with 35 Capacity.
iii)                Mumbai: One Day Care Centre for Senior Citizens is run by Family Welfare Association, an NGO. BMC and SION Hospital provide health services, space and health education by the doctors. 3 more Day Care like Centres have been provided by Corporation for being conducted by NGO. BMC gives free treatment to Senior Citizens in all their Hospitals except 3 Major Hospitals. BMC reserves 5 seats in their buses for Senior Citizens with entry from front.
iv)                Navi Mumbai: 11 Day care Center at Navi Mumbai Municiapl Corporation. The corporation has provided the place, 3 tables, 12 chairs, carom,chess, TV and 5 daily newspapers in each centre. These centres are maintained by NGO but payment of electric & water is paid by Corporation. A Special Senior Citizen Cell is set under chairmanship of Mayor & Municipal Commissioner with reprentatives of senior citizens. A grand programme is arranged on World Elder Daywith felicitations & prize distributions etc.  75% concession in their buses is also given. Free medical treatment is given to all senior citizens in their hospital.
v)                  Pimpri Chinchwad: 1 Day care Centre at Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. The corporation has given the place and pays for Monthly maintenance of Electricity, Water and Security.
vi)                Pune: The Day Care Centre for Senior Citizens run by the Pune Municipal Corporation is open for recreation between 4 and 7 p.m. The centre has a library apart from involving the senior citizens in group discussions, music concerts and craft work. Medical guidance is provided on every Saturday between 4 and 5 p.m. The centre also provides legal aid. The members participate in the traffic awareness drive.
vii)              Surat to set up 7 Day Care Centres for Senior Citizens: Surat Municipal Corporation is now going to develop seven Day Care Units for senior citizens in its all seven zones. First such ‘Day Care Unit’ for senior citizens will come up in Rander zone’s Adajan area with capacity to accommodate at least 50 to 70 old age persons. It will be built on a reserve plot behind Adajan’s Gangeshwar Mahadev temple located at Honey Park road. Proposed ground plus one floor Adajan Day care centre will house a TV room, elevator, temple, conference room, garden, music instruments for Bhajan, reading room, game instruments, and other facilities that can be enjoyed by senior citizens. Medical check-up facility would be available free of cost twice every week in the proposed Day Care Unit.
viii)            Indore Municipal Corporation has given Medi-claim Health Insurance cover to 50000 Senior Citizens of Indore City for Rs 20000 for each Senior Citizen without payment of single paisa as premium from Senior Citizens.
3.      Government of India had announced National Policy on Older Persons, 1999 on 13-2-99 with the approval of Cabinet. This document is masterpiece containing all aspects of Elders` life. Para 97 lays down that Panchayati Raj Institutions will be encouraged to participate in implementation of this Policy, address local level issues and needs of Elders and implement various programmes for them. They will provide Forums for discussing concerns of Elders & activities required to be provided. In para 54, it is laid down that Civic Authorities & Bodies providing Public Utilities will be required to give priority to attending to representations/complaints of Elders. Payment of Civic Dues will be facilitated. Elders will be given special considerations in promptly dealing with matters relating to transfer of property, mutation, property tax & other matters, harassments & abuses in such cases will be checked. Working Group on ``Social Welfare``(October, 2011) for XIIth Five Year Plan has laid down that all Panchayats must come forward & take advantage of financial assistance for various projects under the Scheme of Integrated Programme and provide various schemes in their areas. Each Panchayat must earmark at least 5% fund from their untied funds for welfare activities of senior citizens. Every Panchayat must play a lead role in disbursement of various welfare programmes/schemes for senior citizens. They should create Single Window for all benefits to senior citizens. They should provide Recreation Facilities like Community Centres with television, library, yoga centre etc. They should actively initiate awareness generation & sensitization programme regarding need for well being, safety & rights of senior citizens in schools & colleges. Similarly in Urban Areas, Municipalities and Corporations need to play a key role in disbursement of benefits & earmark 5% of funds for welfare of senior citizens.
4.      Forums for discussion: Para 97 provides that Municipalities will provide Forums for discussing concerns of Older Persons & Activities that need to be taken. Such Forums will be encouraged at Panchayat, Municipal, Block & District level. They will have adequate representation of older women. Panchayats will mobilize the talents & skills of older persons & draw up plans for utilizing them at local level. District Councils laid down in Rules framed by States under Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007 are also not established. Arrangements are required to be made to obtain details of all Registered Associations/Organizations working for senior Citizens in their areas and instructions should be issued to all Departments concerned in main office of Municipality and Ward Officers to hold regular consultations with local Associations of Senior Citizens and endorse copy of all circulars/instructions affecting elders to these Organizations. Similar list should be available with each Ward Officer for their jurisdiction. Meetings, Seminars etc should be held for inter action with elders periodically.
5.      Integrated Programmes for Older Persons (IPOP)- Revised Scheme effective from 1-4-2008: This programme for Elders is in respect of providing 16 schemes like Day Care Centres etc. Para 6 of the Revised Scheme has made Panchayati Raj Institutions & Local Bodies as main implementing Agencies. Each Local Body must make out a time bound programme for each ward to provide these Welfare Schemes, as 90% of recurring & non-recurring expenditure will be borne by Ministry of Social Justice, Delhi.
6.      Celebrating International Day of Older Persons (IDOP):  All Local Bodies must observe this Day on 1st October every year. ``World Awareness Day of Abuse of Older Persons`` on 15th June is also required to be celebrated. These celebrations will create proper atmosphere of Respect for Elders in the Society.
7.      Vayoshestha Sanmans:  Nodal Ministry has given a list of 10 Sanmans given by them every year, which they give in celebration of IDOP. All Local Bodies should also give similar Sanmans on World Elders Day to Senior Citizens of their areas.
8.      Policy provides that Local Bodies will lay down model instructions for builders for providing various facilities keeping in view ageing & lifestyle requirements of elders in all buildings, specially to ensure that no physical barriers to their mobility exist, Easy accessibility to shopping complexes, reservation of 10% of houses in big colonies and Housing Boards for elders, Group Housing for elders (paras 48 to 54 of Policy).
9.      Local Bodies must provide more Nana-Nani Parks and separate earmarking for seniors in existing gardens with sufficient benches, zoolas & other facilities.
10.  Each Ward Officer to be made Friend, Philosopher & Family Member of all elders in their area, making it obligatory to have full details of all elders staying in their jurisdiction and visit them occasionally.
11.   Creating awareness amongst elders of each ward about facilities given and available by all agencies-govt, municipalities as well as corporate & private bodies, NGOs etc.
12.  Concessions in Municipal buses fares with free travel for very elder ladies, toll tax etc should also be considered.
13.   Footpaths with handles, Zebra Crossings etc should be provided in all areas also.
14.  Hospitals: As many Hospitals are under Municipalities, the following should be provided:
i)                     Separate ques at present are formed in Municipal Hospitals only for taking out case paper and senior citizens have to be in common que for going to Doctor of Faculty concerned. Instructions are required to be issued for separate ques for going to Dr and getting medicines also. Such instructions are necessary to Shopping Malls for Payment Counters and all other organizations providing public utility under licensing control of Local Bodies.
ii)                   Separate Health Care Units for Senior Citizens are required to be provided, as envisaged by Ministry of Health & F.W. in National Programme for Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE).
iii)                  Geriatric Units in Hospitals attached to Municipal Medical Colleges as per NPHCE and Physiotherapy Units at CHE as per NPHCE should be provided.
iv)                 Instructions to Private Charitable Hospitals/Clinics/Pathological units etc to provide separate ques, free treatment to poor & at concessional rate to others and various actions as per paras 33 to 54 of NPOP, 99 for Health & Nutrition and Public Trust Acts.
v)                   As all Old Men Homes do not keep immobile seniors, Local Bodies may consider providing Old Men Homes exclusively for immobile elders, just as they provide Night Shelters for homeless citizens.
vi)                 Counseling Centres for Elders are very much necessary.
vii)              Provide free medical facilities in all Municipal Hospitals to Elders.