Monthly Meeting

We meet every 3rd Sunday from 11 AM to 1.30 PM at Upper Ashankur Hall , Holy Family Church , Andheri East.
Meet us there to join us!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A true Story of a Lost Mobile & how it was found

Ms. Mithila P Wadkar Nokia Mobile phone , model No. N – 70 ( IMEI No. 3529 1302 0096 986 ) with No. 98192 03563 was stolen while boarding 1850 Hrs ( 6.50 PM ) Andheri local from platform No. 1 of Dadar Railway station on 2nd May 2008.

She then lodged a Complaint at Dadar Western Railway Police Station on 3rd May 2008. As she had inserted a software for mobile tracking on her mobile her colleague Mr. Rupesh Chindarkar whose Mobile No. is 9820847510 which was inserted in the tracker received a number as 98920 34606 as soon as the SIM card was changed by the thief & a new SIM card inserted.

She duly informed these details to the duty officials on 3rd May 2008 & also provided them with the SIM number inserted in the Mobile. The police officials at Dadar Western Railway Police station only consoled her & informed her that they would investigate & by 5th May 2008 they would inform her about it after 8 PM as the concerned police official is on Night duty.

Thus she visited Dadar Western Railway Police Station on 5th May 2008 at around 8.30 PM but the concerned police official was on leave. So again on the next day she visited the police station at around 7 PM where by the concerned police officials informed that the entire procedure takes around 15 days thus she would need to contact them only after 15 days.

It was during these visits that she came to know that the police officials had not at all started any investigation and she started loosing hope of getting her mobile back.

But her friend Mr. Victor Jose informed her about AGNI & with the help of Mr. James John ( from AGNI ) she wrote a letter to Commissioner of Railway Police ( Wadi – Bunder ) regarding investigation to her stolen mobile phone on 16th of May and a copy of which was forwarded to Dadar western Railway Police station on same day.

She waited for about a week to hear from Commissioner of Railway Police but their was no response at all. Then Mr. James John suggested me to write a letter to Deputy Commissioner of Railway Police on 25th May 2008 , a copy of which was forwarded to Dadar western Railway Police station and Commissioner of Railway Police ( Wadi – Bunder ) on 26th May.

On 27th May 2008 at around 8.30 AM she received a call from Inspector Kokate. who informed her that investigation to the lost mobile has been started & API Inamdar is investigating the case & he would be providing all the details of the investigation. Again on 27th evening API Inamdar called her & that she needs to meet him in person so that he can show her all details with regards to the investigation , so she agreed & confirmed an appointment on 28th May at 6.30 PM at Mumbai Central police station.

On 29th May she met API Inamdar and he showed her the call list of the number from tracker ( 98920 34606 ) from the day the thief had inserted his SIM i.e 3rd May to 17th May ( the day when police officials called the thief for enquiry ). The police official also informed her that the thief had stopped using this number after he received a call from police officials.

API also showed her the details i.e name and address of the users ( these details were received from Airtel ). According to Airtel documents the number was being used by Abdul Hanif Ansari . But when the police officials called him for enquiry he said that he was not using that SIM but a Reliance number , he had no idea about who was using Airtel number on his name. The API informed her that he was going to investigate how did the thief manage to get the SIM on the name of Abdul Hanif Ansari & that he had sent a request to Airtel to provide him the original documents that had been submitted while issuing the SIM. Besides API had also noted frequent numbers from the call list and was going to get address details from those numbers so that he could reach the thief.

API took a statement from her in which she had stated that her mobile was stolen and not lost. He didn’t give her a copy of her statement and told her to call him after 2 - 3 days & he would inform her about further investigation.

On 2nd June she called the API he informed her that it will take around 2 - 3 days time to receive the original documents from Airtel so she should call him after 2 - 3 days. Accordingly she called him on 5th June , were by he informed her that he had received an address of Ghatkhoper from the call list and he was suspecting that he will find her mobile there , so he was going to Ghatkoper that night.

Thus the next day i.e 6th June again she called API , he informed her that last night he was busy in some other case and he himself would let her know within few days may be sunday.

Accordingly API called her on Monday i.e 9th June and informed her that they have found her mobile and that she should come there that evening to collect it. That evening she met the API & he asked her to recognize her phone & after matching the IMEI number he handed it over to her.

On asking how he could find her , he told her a complicated story in which around 5 - 6 persons were involved who had gifted the cell to one another & at last they found it at Mumbra with a person named Ansari who had the cell & his girlfriend had gifted it to him . But on asking why he was not arrested , API informed that the actual culprit was not found & that the cell was gifted to him so he was innocent. Lastly he took a written statement that she has got her cell and the case should be closed. But he didn’t give her a copy of the statement again.

‘This is an example of absolute foolishness’

16 spots at the Airport have two signboards depicing the same symbol

Kunal Purohit

While going to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), from the Sahar road as well as from the Andheri-Kurla road, one’s vision is hit by signboards instructing motorists about the various regulations to be followed there. The peculiar situation here is that at many spots, there are two signboards with the same message.
Entering the airport from Sahar road, DNA Westcoast counted the number of spots where there were two signboards depicting the same instruction. A total of 16 such spots were found.
Citizens are questioning the reasoning behind the same. Biju Augustine, a Marol resident and AGNI activist, says, “ I have been a frequent flyer, and hence, I always notice these signboards. I don’t understand the logic behind having two or more signboards saying the same. At most spots, these poles are right next to each other, just adding to the stupidity!” Augustine adds, “I had noted that one of the two boards has MTP inscribed on it, which indicates that it was put up by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). If true, then it’s a criminal waste of the taxpayer’s money.”
James John, another AGNI activist, says, “The concerned bureaucrats and officials should have common sense. I presume that they must be having some budgetary allocations for installing signboards and that is why they have blindly installed signboards. This is exactly what I call bureaucratic foolishness. Would these officers put two name plates on their doors ?” Quips Augustine, “I don’t know if this is some strategy by the authorities to prove it to all the visitors to the country, as to how we Indians don’t understand something that is told to us once!”
When contacted, R Dhakne, ward officer, K-East Ward, initially denied putting those boards, even when told that the boards had ‘MTP’ markings. However, when pointed out that what these boards signified, he admitted, “These boards have been put up by the BMC.” When asked further, he suddenly stated that he was busy. The Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson didn’t respond, despite repeated efforts. dnawestcoast@dnaindia.net

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Glaring irregularities in Marol structure

Claim AGNI activists who allege there seems to be
a discrepancy in the amount spent


An enthusiastic corporator’s ambitious efforts to showcase his work might just prove to be the BMC’s undoing. Last year, the then corporator Tukaram Nikam built a Samajik Sabhagruh in Chimat Pada, Marol. However, AGNI activist Ravi Nair, in his RTI queries, has found that the BMC’s work order had glaring irregularities. Says Nair, “I had always debated the use of such structures for the general public. Then, when I saw a similar one coming up in my locality, I thought I would get into the details to find out the reasons for the existence of this structure.” On filing queries under the Right to Information Act 2005, Nair found that the BMC had, “gravely miscalculated the estimate of the work order.” Says Nair, “The estimated total, which should have ideally come to around 1.40 lakhs was totalled to be Rs 58,000. How can any error have such a large margin?” Responds S Khatwani, assistant engineer (maintenance), K East, “We agree that such a mistake happened. We had also rectified it. So, what’s the point of raising this issue,
which had been sorted, again?” Nair is unforgiving and says, “I surely can smell something fishy here. Otherwise, how can anyone explain the fact that the BMC’s calculations for 14 items was supposed to be 58,000, but out of those 14, as the budget head acquired by me through RTI shows, work has been carried out only on eight items. Still, the amount for those six incomplete items hasn’t been deducted and the amount paid is the same.” Khatwani, responding to Nair’s allegations, says, “It’s not true that work
hasn’t been done on six items.” When showed copies of the work order estimate and the budget head and the clear disparity between the work items in the estimate and the budget head (prepared after the completion of work). Khatwani said, “This is incorrect. Work has been completed on all counts. Otherwise, how will the structure stand if work is incomplete?” he says. However, the miscalculations weren’t where it ended, says Nair. “Even if we forgive them for the mistake, how can it be explained that there are three signatures- that of the junior engineer (JE), sub engineer (SE) and the AE himself?” Also, goes on Nair. “What is the use of building four pillars and a roof, with not even four walls? Are they trying to protect us from rain?” However, Khatwani defends the structure and says, “A Samajik Sabhagruh is meant to be that. Since the majority population can’t afford a community meeting place, we have provided them that.” RB Dhakne, assistant municipal commissioner, K-East Ward was constantly contacted for his comments on
the matter. However, he refused comment citing his busy schedule. Finally, when DNA Westcoast finally spoke to him after trying to get in touch for three days, he heard us out and said that he wasn’t aware of this issue.”


The discrepancy
In response to Nair’s RTI, a copy of which is with DNA Westcoast, the BMC said that this structure was constructed under Section 50 TT Act of the MMC Act. However, James John,
AGNI member differs with the BMC on this contention. Says John, “This section plainly says that the ward committee can only grant only the financial and administrative sanction. So, how are the technical sanctions granted to such structures?” Adds Nair, “If tomorrow, this structure falls, then who is to be held responsible?”

Friday, May 16, 2008

Inspection of leakages held in Andheri (E)

MCGM has said
that the leakages
would be plugged
in 15 days

AGNI K EAST JAAG members had an inspection of water leakage points in K east ward along with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) staff, traffic police and
the contractor who had been assigned the maintenance task for zone 3 of MCGM on May 9. The team assembled at Marol fire brigade at 7 pm and proceeded towards Marol Maroshi road and ended at Andheri Sahar road by 9.30 pm. “We detected 19 major leakages, some of which MCGM was not even aware of. We still have two more roads to cover. We will be doing that too. We have covered a very small portion and there is more to go,” said James John member of AGNI. He added, “They (MCGM) say in fifteen days time they will plug the leakages. We are saying even if they cover 60 percent of the leakages, it would be great.” The inspection was attended by 25 people including around four MCGM officials, PSI H B Patil and many more people including residents. S O Kori, an employee with MCGM said, “Two to four of the leakages have been fixed. The work is on and we expect to finish it in fifteen to twenty days. We are chalking out the program so that the work is completed on time. We are tackling various people and issues and hoping that the work will be done.” v_ritika@

Monday, May 12, 2008

Joint inspection of multiple water leakage at Andheri

Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) K east JAAG committee conducted a joint inspection along with MCGM, Traffic Police and AGNI’s K east ward at Andheri east where no representative of MMRDA was to be seen. In all, they detected 19 leafages from the water pipeline from Marol Maroshi Road to Pipeline Road. Many of the leafages were the result of MMRDA’s unplanned road construction.

The reasons for these leakages are many like due to improper road construction, improper handling of pumps, and even due to heavy traffic on the roads.

According to the past records many of the leakage spots have been put in place by the BMC earlier but they have popped up again due to MMRDA’s faulty road construction.

BMC official Anand said that, "there is a remark that after a contractor does some work at a place a defect liability period is attached to it which may be for a year or so. If any problem even in regard to leakage occurs then he has to repair it free of cost. But still it is being handed over to BMC."

Another BMC official, Jadhav, commented that, "there is a misconception that BMC doesn’t do anything. But the fact is that work gets delayed due to lack of sufficient manpower and not negligence". Till date out of 43 complaints, 37 have been rectified in a month’s time he added.

With regard to the present leakages, the BMC officials decided dates with the contractor, timings with traffic police and also considering the water supply timings at the respected areas and would start its work in full swing shortly and try to rectify leakages at these 19 spots within15 days. So it has been mutually decided that they would have a review inspection after 15 days to ensure the progress.

Rest of the leakages on the Andheri-Kurla Road and Andheri-Sahar Road will be detected by Agni K east Jaag members, who in turn will inform the MCGM and all those who were involved in the inspection.

ANDHERI WATER WOES SPILL OUT IN 19 LEAKAGES

WATER LEAKAGE FROM AIR VALVE OF PIPE NEAR SAHAR AIRPORT
IT'S ALL going down the drain.
Water that can fill three to four tanks, sufficient to cater to over 100 families, is being wasted every day because of 19 leakages at Marol Maroshi, Andheri-Kurla Road and Sahar Airport Road. This was found out after a joint inspection by citizens' group AGNI, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the traffic police on Friday. This was prompted after a flood of complaints from residents.
A major leakage was found out near Old State Bank bus stop at Marol Maroshi Road in a newly laid pipeline. "As heavy vehicles ply on this road, the new pipeline has been damaged," said S.S. Kori, executive engineer (western suburbs, south). The leak has made the road wet, slippery and dangerous for motorists.
Five water leakages were identified on the Andheri-Kurla Road. "Many leakages on the road have been during the road expansion work by the MMRDA," said Walter Narona, an AGNI volunteer.
The municipal body has promised to plug the leakages within 15 days. "After a fortnight, AGNI will undertake a review inspection," said James John of AGNI.
For six months, there has been a heavy water leakage in front of Mahalakshmi Again Hotel on Andheri-Kurla Road. Another pipe on the Sahar Pipeline Road has also been leaking for six months. None of these leakages have been repaired. Civic authorities blamed the leakages on slumdwellers, who allegedly tamper with the pipe. "We will build a metal cage or a wire mesh around it to stop slumdwellers from hacking pipelines for water," Kori said.
The residents, who have been complaining for a long time, hope to have the problem fixed.
"Due to water leakages almost two litres out of 10 litres of water supply is wasted every day," said Jacinta Viegas (40), investment consultant and Andheri (East) resident. "It reduces the water flow in our houses. There are also chances of water getting contaminated."

Activists inspect water leakage points

Mumbai: With the aim of keeping K East Ward (Andheri east) free of water leakages and making it a zero leakage zone, AGNI activists from the ward, along with BMC staff, the traffic police and contractor, carried out an inspection of water leakage points in the area on Friday. Starting from Marol Naka to Marol Maroshi Road, they found leakages in underground pipes at every 50 metres. Activists said that a valve had been damaged by the MMRDA when it dug a 12-ft wide crater near Saki Naka. “A slab had broken and this affected the valve. Water leakage is maximum from this spot. Proper fencing was also not carried out,’’ said AGNI activist James John. A civic official from the hydraulic engineering (construction) department said, “We will start work after writing to the traffic department. In cases where leakage is due to damage to the pipe in the centre of the road, we have to take permission from them,’’ he said. TNN

Saturday, May 10, 2008

water leakages inspection in k east ward BY AGNI


AGNI K EAST JAAG members had an inspection of water leakages points in K East Ward on Fri 09 May 2008 from 7.30 pm to 9.30 along with MCGM staff , Traffic Police & the contractor who has been assigned the maintenance task for zone 3 of MCGM


The team had traced & pointed out 19 leakages in & around (as per the picture enclosed above. Double click the picture to see the enlarge view)

Marol Maroshi Road
Marol Naka up to Pipe Line

Which will be plugged by the BMC.
& it has been mutually decided that we would have a review inspection after 15 days to ensure the work progress

The main aim is to keep K East Ward free of water leakages & make it a zero leakage zone

Thursday, May 8, 2008

NGOS VOICE CONCERN OVER RULE OF LAW – CITIZEN`S GROUP AGNI`S

To celebrate citizen’s group Agni’s ninth foundation day, many NGOs on Saturday voiced concern at the ‘enforcement of rule of law’, which was the topic for the day. Speakers from NGOs like Agni, Citispace, Dignity Foundation, Loksatta movement and others expressed concern at the present political scenario.Justice Dhanajay Chandrachud said, “RTI has played a valuable role in the present system, but citizens need to evolve better ways to tackle the “monopoly” of the system. There is a great need to look beyond the courts. Even government authorities needs to be sensitised to address the problem faced by the common people.”

Enforce the rule of law


Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) celebrated its 9th anniversary demanding ‘Enforce the rule of law’.

They united together a network of citizen groups behind a single cause and pledged to uphold the majesty of law and its gift to the city.
We abide by a constitutional democracy whereby we have written norms and every layman is expected to follow them so that the society could function smoothly.
So as to avoid conflicts, chaos in society. "But today Rule of Law is not being enforced in the way it should be.

The Rule of Law differs from person to person depending upon his strata in society." Said D M Sukthankar (vice Chairman AGNI).
Then Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud, chief guest for the evening expatiate his opinion on the Rule of Law by saying, " today 40% of judgements in courts is related to asking government officials to do their duties and dispose applications."
Designing the laws is not a problem but implementation is! People need to understand that its Rule of the Law and not Rule by the Law. Monopoly on the information is breaking down because in the courts information is given on an issue by people who's own conduct is under scrutiny.
In such a situation new doctrine of Governance should be introduced wherein there would be accessibility, accountability, predictability and transparency he added.
Another well-known personality Julio Riberio opined that, " today it's become the culture of the society to break the laws, laws are manipulated by those who have made them.
Every second person turns a blind eye saying that when first person doesn't follow the norms then why should I?" in acceptance to it Surendra Srivastava spoke in a very assertive voice that " beyond law enforcement attitudinal change is necessary. Attitude should be either I will change or the society, I'm not ready to change so society has to change." So in a way it's a wake up call for citizens to understand the importance of the Rule of Law. People should realize that 'every man makes a difference'. Instead of breaking one's basket on another it's better to get oneself known about their rights and fight for the same.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

He fires with info as ammo

Right comes handy for consumer activist
“Fighting for the cause of people is in my blood,” says consumer activist James John, who feels compelled to take up causes and ensuring that the defaulter is exposed. James, who is also an AGNI coordinator, took the Maharashtra Rights to Information Act 2002 as a weapon to fight for issues that never saw the light of the day.“After retiring from the Army, I have decided to fight for public causes. Gone are the days when people would blindly believe in their representatives. Now every individual can seek information,” James told DNA.He cites an instance: “A former corporator Kamlesh Rai of Marol village in Malad had allegedly misused the Rs 20 lakh allocated to him. He had promised to build a boundary wall across the village market and a hall. However, not a single project was undertaken.” This was brought to the notice of the ward officer. “We have also highlighted that BMC records show the work is completed, but actually nothing has been done,” he said.He added, “We will ensure that not only the work gets completed but also those who were responsible for non-completion are punished.”He said, “With the help of this right we could demand the required documents and nail the fraud.”The same can be done by every individual. What is needed is self-confidence and the urge to fight for public causes?James John

Corporator is fooling people by taking credit’: AGNI volunteer

BMC is funding the storm water drain project


A signboard in the Ganesh Nagar area on Chimatpara Road of Andheri east has robbed the BMC of the appreciation it deserves.On the road outside Kulsum restaurant, where construction of a storm water drain is currently underway, stands a Shiv Sena board that proudly declares in Marathi, “This work is being carried out with the help of the BMC out of corporator Tukaram Nikam’s corporator fund.” Ravi Nair, a resident and volunteer of the Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) had filed a Right to Information application in the K-East Ward office, asking for a list of all work orders issued in the area that were to be completed out of Nikam’s funds.“There was no mention of this project in any of the work orders that I procured from the BMC K-east Ward office,” said Nair.Nair’s hunch that Nikam was trying to cash in on the work being done by the municipality was corroborated when DNA contacted Sanjay Borse, assistant engineer maintenance for the K-East Ward. “The storm water drain construction being carried out is out of the BMC’s storm water drain fund,” he said.“The work is being funded by taxpayers. We need to appreciate the municipal authorities for taking their work seriously. Some politicians try to fool people by taking undue credit,” said Nair.Nikam, corporator for Ward 90 and ward committee president of the K-East Ward, said, “We have done so much work in the adjoining area out of the corporator’s fund. That should be brought to people’s notice.” “The BMC doesn’t grant permission for putting up a board on a busy road,” Nair said. “He had done the same in June when a new water pipe was being laid.” Nair lodged a complaint (WR50207682) with the licence department of the municipality.The board put up by the corporator at Ganesh Nagar —Shashikant Bajpai/DNA

Andheri locals root for fallen rain tree

Former corporator did not take BMC permission to fell it, allege residents


Residents and civic activists of JB Nagar in Andheri are up in arms over the felling of an old rain tree in the Thresa Triump Building compound on Sunday morning.They allege two branches of the tree, with a girth of 18 inches, were cut at the behest of a former corporator of the area, who did not take mandatory permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.“I saw the tree cut in the morning and informed officers at the JB Nagar police chowki. When the cops asked for the mandatory permit to cut the tree, former corporator Subhash Sawant produced a photocopy of the permit, but without the requisite stamp of the concerned officer. Sawant, known earlier too for felling trees in the area, was present at the site,” said James John, an Action for Good Governance and Networking in India ( AGNI) coordinator, who has lodged a written complaint. The Maharashtra Urban Areas Protection and Preservation of Trees Act says a tree officer not less than the rank of a ward officer must grant permission for the felling of a tree, which includes trimming branches or burning it in private or public premises.It further states that the tree officer must inspect the site, for which permission is to be sought within 30 days of receipt of the application. It also directs the tree officer to put up a public notice on the tree and in local newspapers. Ashok Pai, an activist and resident of the area said, “Vasant Prabhu, the ward officer of our area, has been on leave for a month, so he can’t have inspected the tree.”“There was no notice put up to cut this tree. Similar violations of the law have taken place in the past, where three trees were cut and permission was granted six days later,” added Pai. BMC officials from the K-east ward and corporator Sawant were unavailable for comment.

Banner is flying, permits notwithstanding

It is one banner, which has exposed the nexus between civic officials and politicians and gross misuse of public property. Across the city, around 500 illegal banners, from Cuffe Parade to Borivali, advertising a commercial project of ex-Congress MLA, Chandrakant Gosalia, are now in the eye of a storm. James John, volunteer of NGO AGNI from the K-east ward, who along with various other coordinators have been fighting against illegal banners coming up in the area, has filed a complaint with the local ward office on Sunday (complaint no SV20203447). “These banners have come up in the ward overnight despite our vigilance,” said John, who has filed at least 150 complaints to remove banners in the past month. “This particular banner is an out-an-out violation since permission to put the banner cannot be granted as any form of banners within 20 metres from the road,” says John.The banners advertise Gemstar — a new commercial complex project developed in Malad (west). “Suited for BPOs, IT businesses, banquet halls and offices” is what the banner says with the names of Chandrakant and son Ashish Gosalia on it. When DNA called up the mobile number mentioned on it, a spokesperson for the company said, “Tell me what your needs are. We have excellent spaces for offices.” When asked if they have permissions from BMC, the spokesman said, “I think we have permissions for putting these banners in each ward. I cannot divulge more details.”Almost every electric pole on crucial junctions like World Trade Centre, Peddar Road, Mahalaxmi, Mahim, Bandra, Santa Cruz, Juhu and Andheri is occupied by this commercial banner, with no one objecting to it. In fact, the Andheri-Kurla road has at least 10 of these banners tied to the light poles over a 1-kilometer stretch. Municipal commissioner Johnny Joseph said he is unaware of the permission granted to such banners advertising a commercial project. “We are very strict with banners now and allow only 10 in each Assembly constituency. In fact, last month, we removed 5,800 illegal banners across the city. I will look into the matter,” he added. Gosalia said, “I’m not sure if I have taken any permission for these banners.” When asked if anyone in his office would know about it, he said, “I will have to check on this. But the chances are of us not seeking the permission is high.”Even the local civic officials maintained silence over the issue. “The BMC-politician ne­xus runs strong all over the city,” said Ravi Nair, who takes photographs of illegal banners in suburbs and reports it to the BMC regularly.

Don't waste the franchise, log your 'refusal to vote'

MEMBERS OF AGNI CAMPAIGN IN ANDHERI TO SPREAD AWARNESS ABOUT THE “REFUSAL TO VOTE
Don't like your options for the forthcoming civic elections? Instead of not voting, register your protest against the lack of clean and credible candidates with your 'refusal to vote'.James John, the Andheri ward coordinator of AGNI (Action for Good Governance for Networking in India) is leading the movement of protest. Since many people do not vote because they believe no candidate is worthy, John and his supporters are trying to spread the message that it is important to ensure that their vote is not misused by others."It's important that electors express their right to vote," John said. "Under Rule 40Q of the Representation of the People's Act, 1969, electors can state that they do not wish to vote. By doing so, they also ensure their vote is not used by bogus voters, who are rampant."The 'refusal to vote' empowers the voter in a different manner. For example, if a candidate wins by 123 votes, but there are also more than 123 refusals to vote in the ward, then there would be a re-poll. But besides the general lack of awareness about the 'refusal to vote' option, another problem keeps voters from exercising this choice. The option is not available on the electronic voting machine. To exercise it, the voter must register the refusal to vote with the presiding officer. John's team is campaigning to ensure that this changes soon, as well. He believes that if more people exercise the option, parties will be forced to field cleaner candidates.But with few voters exercising the 'refusal to vote' option in the last Lok Sabha election, UPS Madan, chief electoral officer, Maharashtra, does not expect much change this time. "I feel electors rarely use the option as it takes away their sense of privacy, because they have to reveal their name to the presiding officer," he said.AGNI convenor Gerson da Cunha supports the campaign but points out that the poll register merely records the voter's refusal to vote, not the cause. "It does not record the protest he or she is making against poor calibre candidates or any other issue," he said.Even so, he believes the option needs to be promoted, "as it protects that vote from being misused".More on p4

Monday, May 5, 2008

Marathi number plates flout the law



In a clear violation of the All India Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, the vehicles used by many prominent politicos sport number plates in the Devnagari script; Provision 50 of the Act says words in the registration should be in the English language and numbers in Arabic type
Vikas Mishra. Andheri


Several prominent political leaders, including corporators, have been caught violating the All India Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, but despite several complaints to the authorities, no action has been taken so far. The matter came to light when social activist Ashok Pai, working for NGO AGNI, taking recourse to the Right to Information Act (RTI), sought details of people using the Devnagari script (Marathi) on their vehicle number plates, instead of the mandatory English-Arabic (for numerals) script.As per Provision 50 of the All India Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the words in the registration marks should be in English language and numbers in Arabic type. Any person caught violating this rule should be fined, as per the law, but the personalities concerned openly flout the rules. Some claim theyare unaware of the rules, while others point out that the vehicles are not registered in their name.Subhash Sawant, former corporator and Shiv Sena leader, who owns a Tata Indigo and an ambulance, both carrying the registration number plate in Devnagari script. Sitting corporator and a recent Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) entrant, Jyoti Andhari's Tata Sumo and SS shaka pramukh (Andheri) Pramod Sawant's Scorpio are also among those violating the rule.Pai says, "I have filed various RTI applications on the matter and sent complaint letters to Satish Mathur, joint commissioner of Police, traffic, but the vehicles still carry the same, unauthorised number plates.According to Pai, officer in charge of the Traffic police's prosecution department, Dayanand Gavas, said that several summons were issued to the offenders, but they and their vehicles were not traceable. "After that, I provided them with details of the permanent parking places of these vehicles, yet, no action was taken. I have received threatening calls from these politicians and they abused me," Pai said. When contacted, MNS leader Jyoti Andhari said, "The Tata Sumo I use is registered in my son Rajesh's name. I was not aware of the rules and regulations. Everybody writes numbers in Marathi, so I have also written it." When contacted, Subhash Sawant first denied violating the rule, then said, "The traffic officials should take action; the day they fine me on the use of Marathi, we will protest against it by calling a huge rally in city. We are Marathi people and have the right to use our language and feel proud of it. We will continue with it and nobody can stop us," he added. Despite repeated efforts to contact him, Inspector Dayanand Gavas was unavailable for comment.Subash Sawant's (former Shiv Sena corporator) Tata Indigo

BMC-REL in Andheri water war


The civic body says it is unable to lay a water pipeline in Chimatpada because of a high-voltage REL wire; Reliance Energy says it has already moved out most of the wiring

Two major essential service providers in the city, the BMC and Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) are up in arms against each other over the laying of an underground water pipeline in Chimatpada, Andheri (E).
The project of laying the water line, which was approved in 2005 and can bring relief to at least 10,000 residents of the area, has been stuck in a communication tug-of-war between the two agencies, which have now resorted to shooting off letters against each other.
DNA Westcoast has copies of the letters in which the BMC claims that it is not possible for it to lay the 300 mm pipeline, since REL has not cleared the congestion of wires lying beneath the road.
REL, in a letter dated January 2, 2007, responded to the BMC’s 20-month-old appeal. An REL spokesperson said, “We have replied them saying that, we have already shifted our cable which were coming in the alignment of pipe laying work.
One major casting-joint which is still there will be shifted or lifted simultaneously during your work due to space constraint.” In January 2005, to increase water flow to the area around Marol, the civic body decided to lay underground water lines. The project came to a halt following the identification of high-voltage wires crisscrossing Marol junction, particularly at Chimatpada.
Then oral discussions, personal visits from civic officials and letters followed, but “in vain”, the BMC officials say.
Local residents then sought the help of the Right to Information Act (RTI), raising the issue with help from social activist from Ravi Nair, of the NGO, AGNI.
Says Nair, “When I asked the BMC to explain the problem in this project, the answer shocked me, because it stated, “Due to the large numbers of underground utilities, including high voltage wires and heavy vehicular traffic the work could work of Reliance Energy to clear the high voltage wires”.
On the other hand, Deputy Hydraulic Engineer Suresh Khole of the western suburbs, said, “I have to look into the matter. If we have received a reply from Reliance Energy Ltd, we will conduct the work soon.”
Two major essential service providers in the city, the BMC and Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) are up in arms against each other over the laying of an un- derground water pipeline in Chi- matpada, Andheri (E). The project of laying the wa- ter line, which was approved in 2005 and can bring relief to at least 10,000 residents of the area, has been stuck in a com- munication tug-of-war between the two agencies, which have now resorted to shooting off letters against each other. DNA Westcoast has copies of the letters in which the BMC claims that it is not possible for it to lay the 300 mm pipeline, since REL has not cleared the congestion of wires lying be- neath the road. REL, in a letter dated Janu- ary 2, 2007, responded to the BMC’s 20-month-old appeal. An REL spokesperson said, “We have replied them saying that, we have already shifted our ca- ble which were coming in the alignment of pipe laying work. One major casting-joint which is still there will be shifted or lifted simultaneously during your work due to space constraint.” In January 2005, to in- crease water flow to the area around Marol, the civic body decided to lay underground water lines. The project came to a halt following the identifi- cation of high-voltage wires crisscrossing Marol junction, particularly at Chimatpada. Then oral discussions, personal visits from civic officials and letters followed, but “in vain”, the BMC officials say. Local residents then sought the help of the Right to Infor- mation Act (RTI), raising the is- sue with help from social ac- tivist from Ravi Nair, of the NGO, AGNI. Says Nair, “When I asked the BMC to explain the problem in this project, the answer shocked me, because it stated, “Due to the large numbers of underground utilities, including high voltage wires and heavy vehicular traffic the work could work of Reliance Energy to clear the high voltage wires”. On the other hand, Deputy Hydraulic Engineer Suresh Khole of the western suburbs, said, “I have to look into the matter. If we have received a reply from Reliance Energy Ltd, we will conduct the work soon.”

CLEAN END TO DIRTY PROBLEM


ASHOK PAI POINTS OUT THE STROM WATER DRAIN THAT IS FLOODED WITH SEWERAGE

T HE WORK is on in real earnest and the residents now expect it to get over be- fore the onset of monsoon, the deadline given by the authorities. For residents of the Bhagwan Mahavir Marg, Kanti Nagar, And- heri (E), it was foul smell and mos- quitoes, accompanied by diseases for the last 30 years before a com- plaint filed by local NGO, AGNI, got the ball rolling. The July 26, 2005, deluge was the day when AGNI decided that the problem had got out of hand and filed a complaint against the coop- erative societies in the area. Says James John, co-ordinator of the AGNI/K East Ward: “During July 26 floods, the problem had become so unbearable that human excreta was to be seen floating on the roads.” The old buildings in the area had sewer tanks which were not connected with the main sew- erage lines leading to dirty water seeping out of the tanks. In some places, the tanks were connected to the storm water drainage ad- joining the buildings. It was around this time after the com- plaint was filed that the civic body almost fined the societies and threatened to take action. Says Sadashiv Chindarkar, resi- dent of Kanti Nagar, and chairper- son of Kanti Nagar Welfare Asso- ciation: “We had informed the BMC about the problem and there were numerous instances when they had come to visit but no one took any action.” The ever-increasing number of buildings added to the problem. At present, there are around 23 build- ing which house 240 flat owners. When complains from the NGO in- creased, the BMC sent a notice, saying it would fine the societies. “When they came, we told them that the there was no other option but to connect the septic tanks to the main sewerage line as the BMC did not clean the septic tanks often,” adds Chindurkar. When contacted a BMC engi- neer from the ward, who is not al- lowed to speak to the media, said, “We cut the connection because it was in violation of procedure. No sewer line can be connected to the storm water drain.” Adds Ashok Pai, another AGNI member: “Since the water pipe line was also running along the storm water drain, there was al- ways water contamination.” When asked about how the soci- ety was allowed to come up with- out a sewer line, he said: “We had provided for a septic tank and the collection was done frequently.” It is only after the complaints that the BMC also passed the order for getting four other societies too connected to the place. He adds: “We have now got rid of the problem of not only that area but also the colonies nearby. A project on laying water pipe line for four colonies is on.” ashutosh.shukla@hindustantimes.com Programme for clean pipes: What lies ahead Project deadline: Nine months Project cost: Rs 1.13 crore Roads where work is on: Velinkani Road, Charat Singh Road, Bhagwan Mahavir Marg, and Bagadkar Marg Size of line: 350 mm in diameter Societies that will benefit: Tarun Bharat, Charat Singh Colony, Kanti Nagar and some buildings in JB Nagar adjoining Bagadkar Marg

bmc fails to recover rs 4.37 lakh in fines



penalties were levied on mtnl and rel in may after they reportedly dug up roads without prior bmc permission



the yearly budget of the brihanmumbai municipal corporation (bmc) is in excess of rs 12,000 crore, but officials within the bmc have been tardy in collecting fines owed by various entities, which run into a few lakhs. bmc had issued letters to mahanagar telephone nigam limited (mtnl) and reliance energy ltd (rel) in may and july, asking them to cough up penalties because they allegedly excavated a road in andheri (e) without prior permissions from the bmc. mtnl had to pay over rs 4 lakh, while rel owes rs 16,000 to the civic authorities, according to a right to information (rti) reply issued to social worker ravi nair, a resident of chimatpada in andheri (e). the rti reply states that till date, the bmc has not collected the money from either party. says nair, "on may 20, i was passing though ganesh nagar road in chimatpada and found some people digging up the road. i stopped there and demanded a copy of the permission order from them, but the supervisor refused and told me to inform the bmc. i then filed a police complaint regarding the matter and informed the bmc regarding the issue." on may 23, the bmc issued a letter to mtnl, stating that they had excavated the stretch on ganesh nagar road without the prior permission of the municipal corporation of greater mumbai (mcgm); it was also stated that there was no responsible officer at the site and mtnl therefore was directed to pay rs 4,21,740 as penalty. after a similar incident occurred near chimatpada in july, nair says he again informed the bmc, after which the bmc sent a penalty letter to rel for not obtaining mcgm permission and asked them to pay a fine of rs 16,351. but, the twist in the tale came when through his rti petition, nair found that the bmc had not collected the moneys owed to it, nor had it deducted the sums owed from the deposits of the two companies. "i was shocked to see the answer in the rti that the bmc hasn't yet collected the fine, nor has it deducted the amount from their deposits. it was the responsibility of the ward officer to take immediate action, but we think he is hand-in-glove with the companies, which is why the fines have not been recovered," added nair. when questioned on the issue, assistant municipal commissioner (amc) ranjit dhakane of k (e) ward said action would be taken soon. "i have already informed the concerned official regarding this issue and action will be taken soon," dhakane said. when asked about the reason for the delay in collecting the fines, he said, "there was some computer problem in the ward office and this was the reason for the delay." m_chirag@dnaindia.netthe dug-up road at chimatpada, andheri (e) - chirag madia

RTI nails BMC’s half-hearted recovery of dues from companies

If the letter stated that the amount will be recovered within three days, then why have they still not recovered it...
A Right to Information (RTI) application has exposed the lackadaisical attitude of the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corpo-ration (BMC) for not recovering their dues, in the form of penalty charges imposed on Reliance Energy and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for the illegal excavation of a trench at Chimatpada Road in Andheri.Ravi Nair, a volunteer of AGNI from the K-East Ward had notified the trench (road digging) officer of illegal excavation on the roads by these companies. He then filed an RTI application demanding the documents for the recovery of dues for the illegal excavation on the roads by the companies. Nair demanded photocopies of the debit/sap voucher confirming that BMC has recovered the penalty amount from Reliance Energy in the stipulated time period for recovering the same, after issuing the letter under the Right to Information Act. In its response, the BMC has stated that letters have already been sent to MTNL Ltd. and Reliance Energy and the same will be recovered from the amount which the companies had deposited with BMC in due course.The BMC has issued a letter to Reliance Energy and MTNL for paying the penalty amounting to Rs. 16,351 from Reliance Energy Limited and Rs. 4,21,740 from MTNL. But Nair alleges that the BMC has not recovered these dues. "The dues are still pending. I have been filing the RTI applications right from the month of May, but still they have not provided the documents about the recovery of penalty," said Nair.He alleges that the penalty was supposed to be recovered within three days of issuing the letter to the companies, failing in which the amount should have been recovered from the deposit of the companies. But the Corporation has still not recovered their dues. "If the letter stated that the amount will be recovered within three days, then why have they still not recovered it?" asks Nair. R.B. Dhakane, the Assistant Municipal Commissioner (K East) Ward was not available for comment.

BMC plays ping-pong with RTI appellants

Citizens have complained to Commissioner Phatak about Ward Officer Ranjit Dhakne delaying RTI hearings, citing reasons of meetings with higher-ups

Activists from K/ East ward are fed up of the administrative irregularity in attending to appellants seeking details under Right to Information (RTI) Act. Informs James John, AGNI (Association for Governance and Networking in India) member and coordinator for K/ East ward, “The Municipal Commissioner has fixed Wednesdays between 3 p m and 5 p m as the appeal timings under the RTI Act 2005. Though this time is reserved specifically for RTIs first appeal hearings, it is not being followed, and appellants are turned back, as the Ward Officer has either gone for some urgent meetings or because the Additional Municipal Commissioners have summoned them.” So agitated are the citizens that they have written to Municipal Commissioner Dr Jairaj Pathak complaining about Ward Officer Ranjit Dhakne leaving citizens in a lurch for a meeting with Additional Municipal Commissioner R A Rajeev. Says John, “They must be made to compensate to appellants and the Ward Officer must be reprimanded.” Says Samiullah Chaudhary of Marol, “I am a security guard, and almost lost my job waiting for Ward Officer Dhakne, who didn’t turn up.” Says an angry Ravi Nair, “We are not fools to wait for hours, and go back without an answer, because the ward officer doesn’t spare us time. I had to come here thrice for my appeal to be heard.”Says a senior official, “Ward officers cannot do much, when higher-ups call them. There should be a stricture that no meetings are to be attended during appeals. We would be more than pleased to follow it.”Responds Ranjit Dhakne, “We have to go if the meetings are urgent. We are not delaying RTI hearings intentionally, to skip the appeals. If there’s an important issue that needs immediate attention, we have to look into it.” Affirms Commissioner Phatak, “Ward officers must be present for the appeals, unless they have some urgent meetings to attend.” virat.singh@timesgroup.comTake this forwardAdvises RTI activist Advocate Vivekanand Gupta, “If an appeal is not heard within 45 days, one can lodge a complaint with the State Public Information Officer (PIO). Appellate authorities never bother to inform appellants, if they are unable to conduct the appeal. The Municipal Commissioner must issue a circular asking all senior officials to avoid any meetings during the appeal timings.”

They fought BMC with info power

W FOR VICTORY: Yes, for residents of Chimatpada in Andheri (E), ‘victory’ starts with ‘w’; they had to wait for nearly six years, and really slug it out with the BMC, before they got water in their taps

Mumbai: For five years, the bestcase scenario for residents of Chimatpada in Andheri (East) was a trickle of water at their homes; and, often, there would be none at all. All their missives to the ward office just added to the heap of files. But all that changed in eight months, thanks to the determination of two men, which forced the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to give 25,000-odd residents of this neighbourhood access to good drinking water that, many believed, was one of their most basic rights. The first letters sent by Chimatpada resident Ravi Nair and local AGNI activist James John failed to get officials moving. But, in the process, they learnt that the BMC had already allotted Rs 1.12 crore for a cross-connection from a main line from which pipes of a bigger diameter would be laid to Chimatpada. But all progress, unfortunately for residents of Chimatpada, was evident only on paper. “The BMC initially said they could not lay pipes because the traffic department was not allowing them to dig the road,’’ Nair said. So he did the next logical thing; he pursued the case with officials of the traffic department and learnt that verbal permission was given to the BMC some time back. An entire area was, therefore, going dry because the BMC never bothered to follow up on the permission with the traffic department. “It was just a matter of procuring this piece of paper for permission. And, when we produced the traffic department’s reply to the BMC, they immediately started the work,’’ John said. It took just two letters and three applications under the Right To Information Act for the pipeline to become operational, he added. But the battle was far from over, they learnt soon. The local corporator, who inaugurated the pipeline, milked the issue, claiming through party hoardings that it was his party that had paid for the work that brought water to residents’ homes. This claim, too, was exposed following a series of RTI applications that revealed that the work was carried out using money from the BMC budget. Nair and John, however, now have another battle on their hands; they are nowtrying to get details of another project that was to augment water supply to Marol. “The BMC, this time, has passed the buck on to the MMRDA and agencies that own the underground utilities,’’ John said, promising that the battle was very much on.

One question saves lakhs from going down the drain...

The man who saved lakhs


J B Nagar resident Ashok Pai asked to see the tender for sewage connection in LACC meet; residents were unaware that they were not liable to pay the Rs 20,000 per society that corporator and BMC official demanded for the work I knew that under Section 231 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, soci- eties are not responsi- ble to pay for the first time — it is the BMC’s duty to pay”
When a J B Nagar resident asked to see a tender copy during a Local Area Citizen Committee (LACC) meeting, he didn’t realise he was saving his society and 15 others from shelling out at least Rs 20,000 each, to connect their sewage drains to the main municipal sewage lines.
In November 2006, the BMC laid sewage lines on Kanti Nagar Road, J B Nagar, to connect the septic tanks of 16 cooperative societies, and the project cost was Rs 1.13 crore, which also included two similar projects at Wireless Road and Valenkanni Road.
However, while the ninemonth project inched forward, an LACC meeting was called recently to appeal to all cooperative societies to pay Rs 20,000 per society, to benefit from the newly-laid sewage line.
Corporator Subhash Sawant, in the presence of BMC Sub-en gineer Vishwas Kale, almost convinced society members to pay the sum for connecting the lines. However, 42-year-old Ashok Pai of Riddhi-Siddhi Ratna cooperative housing society was not convinced, and asked, “Can you show the tender copy for the 1.3 crore project to me?” The meeting was halted and Pai promised that the tender copy would be provided to him in the next meeting.
The next day itself, the civic body started connecting the sewage lines, without any money being paid by the societies.
“In the meeting held with the BMC officials and corporator, we asked why the sewage line was not connected to building. The BMC official said that for this, each society had to pay Rs 20,000 as “road opening charges”. “But I asked for a copy of the tender, because I knew that under Section 231 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, societies are not responsible to pay for the first time — it is the BMC’s duty to pay it. Then onwards, if any work is carried out, the society has to bear all expenses. The next day, the work started and one asked us to pay the expenses,” remembered Pai. “I was happy that one question saved lakhs of rupees, which might have gone to the BMC officials and the corporator.” When contacted, a BMC official said on condition of anonymity, “It was our mistake that we demanded the amount from the societies. I was unaware about the Act.” When a J B Nagar resident asked to see a tender copy dur- ing a Local Area Citizen Com- mittee (LACC) meeting, he did- n’t realise he was saving his so- ciety and 15 others from shelling out at least Rs 20,000 each, to connect their sewage drains to the main municipal sewage lines. In November 2006, the BMC laid sewage lines on Kanti Na- gar Road, J B Nagar, to connect the septic tanks of 16 coopera- tive societies, and the project cost was Rs 1.13 crore, which also included two similar proj- ects at Wireless Road and Valenkanni Road. However, while the nine- month project inched forward, an LACC meeting was called re- cently to appeal to all coopera- tive societies to pay Rs 20,000 per society, to benefit from the newly-laid sewage line. Corporator Subhash Sawant, in the presence of BMC Sub-en- gineer Vishwas Kale, almost convinced society members to pay the sum for connecting the lines. However, 42-year-old Ashok Pai of Riddhi-Siddhi Rat- na cooperative housing society was not convinced, and asked, “Can you show the tender copy for the 1.3 crore project to me?” The meeting was halted and Pai promised that the tender copy would be provided to him in the next meeting. The next day itself, the civic body started connecting the sewage lines, without any mon- ey being paid by the societies. “In the meeting held with the BMC officials and corporator, we asked why the sewage line was not connected to building. The BMC official said that for this, each society had to pay Rs 20,000 as “road opening charges”. “But I asked for a copy of the tender, because I knew that under Section 231 of the Mumbai Municipal Corpora- tion Act, societies are not re- sponsible to pay for the first time — it is the BMC’s duty to pay it. Then onwards, if any work is carried out, the society has to bear all expenses. The next day, the work started and one asked us to pay the ex- penses,” remembered Pai. “I was happy that one question saved lakhs of rupees, which might have gone to the BMC of- ficials and the corporator.” When contacted, a BMC offi- cial said on condition of anonymity, “It was our mistake that we demanded the amount from the societies. I was un- aware about the Act.”

A group of alert citizens use the Right to Information Act to change their little world

You pinch the administration and they will respond. The RTI act has kept hope alive.”RAVI NAIR
RIGHT TO KNOW : MUMBAI - MAHARASHTRAFire StarterA group of alert citizens use the Right to Information Act to change their little worldBy Kimi Dangor
“To change the system, you must penetrate it,” says 23-year-old Muringathery Sebastian Varghese, seated in a tiny tenement in Bhamanpuri village in Mumbai. As youth president of his church, this mechanical engineering student has discovered a weapon that will help him understand and navigate this system better. “The Right to Information Act is like a brahmastra,” chimes Pramod Sawant, 25, an employee with a media group. It’s a national holiday, August 15, but the two young men have dutifully turned up for the Action for Good Governance for Networking in India (AGNI) and Active Alert Citizen’s Forum meeting. Seated around a small room lined with yellowed newspaper clippings are also social activists James John, Ravi Nair, Ashok Pai, Sheeba Nair, Walter Noronha and Melwyn D’Costa among others, united by a cause that goes deeper than just celebrating the country’s independence. Export manager Ravi Nair, 31, says, “For activism, you need passion.” As the Andheri K-East ward coordinator for agni, a non-political, non-sectarian voluntary movement for good governance, he should know. The ward is not only the biggest but also the most active one in Mumbai, holding discussions on topics ranging from concretising roads and activating water connections to removing drainage blocks and illegal hoardings.
Presiding over this motley group is John, 38, a former naval officer and handball player. “When I joined the Indian Navy in 1988, Mumbai was a different city—we had playgrounds and footpaths. When I returned to the city in 2002, the footpaths had disappeared and open spaces had been encroached upon, ” he says. Letters of protest gave way to activism as he became a member of AGNI K-East Jaag and co-founded the Active
Alert Citizen’s Forum. Today, a dedicated group of nearly 25 members keeps track of the 15 area corporators’ funds, and gets anumber of things done, like clearing clogged sewage drains, installing water pipelines, preventing illegal tree-cutting and water theft. All with the help of RTI Act. Meeting once a month, the group perseveres despite physical threats and attacks. They pool in to print a newsletter that has a column dedicated to the Act with explanatory case-studies. John and his band of K-ward activists are always at the forefront of civic benefit. “The administration knows that we will keep following up. You pinch and they will respond. The RTI Act has kept hope alive,” asserts Nair. And AGNI

LAW MUST NOT REMAIN ON PAPER

ACTIVISTS AT THE 9TH ANNIVERSARY FUNCTION OF AGNI ON SATURDAY


CITIZENS' GROUPS came together to evoke the rule of law on the ninth anniversary celebrations of AGNI, a citizens' group.
On the backdrop of rampant corruption, vote bank politics and the nexus between land mafia and law enforcers, the various groups - AGNI, CitiSpace, Lok Satta Movement - are spearheading the need to enforce the rule of law. "Law must not remain on paper, it must be ruthlessly enforced," said D.M. Sukhtankar, vice-chairman, AGNI.
Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud highlighted the need to sensitise the judiciary to comprehend diversities, social context, and experimentation to allow creative interpretation of the law.
"Flooding the courts with too many litigations have made the courts dysfunctional," he said. He stressed on the need to incorporate citizens as major stakeholders in the process of governance.
Lauding the Clean Up campaign as an example of active citizen participation, former police commissioner Julio Riberio said: "To enforce the rule of law, a change in people's mindset is needed."

Citizens should be involved in governance: HC judge

AGNI CELEBRATES 9 YRS

Citizens should be involved in governance: HC judge

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: The real problem facing today’s society is not designing law but implementing it. And the task of implementing it is given to those whose conduct itself is under scrutiny, said Justice D Y Chandrachud of the Bombay high court. He was delivering the keynote address on the subject Enforce the Rule of Law at the ninth anniversary celebrations of the city’s wellknown NGO Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) on Saturday at the St Xavier’s college hall. Talking about his own experience as a judge, Justice Chandrachud said that each time he heard a matter he asked himself “Do I make a difference?’’ because he did not see the orders being implemented. “We must contemplate the need to incorporate citizens as stake holders and increase the participation of citizens in governance as well as allow experimentation,’’ he said. One of the greatest problems faced by the judiciary, said Justice Chandrachud, was access to information. “The information is provided by those who are themselves under scrutiny.’’ Elaborating, he recounted how when the farmers’ suicide case came up in the Bombay high court, the judges asked the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to carry out a survey and to find the reasons behind the suicides. The institute, he said, submitted an excellent report. Nearer home, with regard to the problem of hoardings, the court took a two-pronged approach ruling no hoardings on heritage structures and set up a citizens’ committee to report on whether the hoardings were in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification and the Motor Vehicles Act. He pointed out that the municipal commissioner was on record that the hoardings added to the grandeur of Mumbai. “There is,’’ he said, “a deliberate act of suppression of information and the right to information act is performing a valuable function,’’ he added. AGNI has now decided to form a core group of various NGOs that will prepare an action plan and launch a campaign to ensure the rule of law.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CHARTER OF DEMANDS SUBMITTED Act against mobocracy, activsists tell top cop


Mumbai: A delegation of activists on Tuesday, presented a charter of demands to commissioner of police Hassan Gaffoor on Tuesday, against mobs taking the law into their hands.
The delegation comprising AGNI activists James John, Gerson da Cunha, former civic chief D M Sukhtankar, former top cop Julio Ribeiro and others, said most issues are being settled with increasing attacks on citizens. What’s

worse is that the politicians, powerbrokers and the police are mere spectators to the events, or sometimes, even the cause provocateurs. Citizens insisted on enforcement of the rule of law. “There should be greater collaboration between the people and the police in fighting elements perpetrating mobocracy,’’ said activist James John of the (AGNI) who was also the victim of one such attack by a mob. “In addition to the existing police stations, it would be good if there were special nodal offices that would take care of these incidents,’’ he added.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Activist beaten up by suspected MNS workers


MUMBAI MIRROR BUREAU
VINDICATED: James John at the hospital

Activist James John paid the price for trying to collect evidence against alleged MNS workers who were forcing shop keepers to down their shutters. John, an activist with citizen’s group AGNI, was beaten up badly by five suspected MNS workers on his way back home on Wednesday evening at J B nagar, Andheri. Doctors at BSES Hospital in Andheri (W), where John was admitted, said, “He has broken two upper ribs and has sustained injuries on his lungs.” Ashok Pai, another AGNI activist and a close friend of John, said, “He was returning home from work around 6 pm. He saw five men forcing shop owners to close their shops. John started clicking pictures which the miscreants objected to.” James and his fellow activists from AGNI claim the five miscreants belonged to MNS and were creating havoc in the area to protest the arrest of their party chief. Police officers from Andheri Police station have recorded John’s statement. The officers say they will file an FIR once John is in a position to tell them what happened that day.

Trio arrested for attack on activist


TIMES NEWS NETWORK
ROWDIES IN COP NET: (From left) MNS workers Mahendra Dalvi and Kiran Jadhav at the Andheri court on Monday. They were arrested for assaulting AGNI activist James John

Mumbai: Three MNS workers have been arrested by the Andheri police in connection with the attack on AGNI activist James John earlier this month. John suffered three broken ribs. The arrested trio have been identified as Kiran Jadhav (20), Yogesh (27) and Mahendra Dalvi (25). All three are residents of Andheri (E). According to the police, the incident had occurred on February 13 at JB Nagar. In the wake of the inflammatory remarks made by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, his party workers were forcibly trying to shut shops in the area. John, who was returning to his Andheri residence, witnessed this and decided to take photographs on his camera. As soon as the men saw John taking pictures, they turned their ire towards him. A group of five men cornered John and manhandled him. Some of them even tried to delete his photographs, but John resisted. Later, John approached the Andheri police station and registered a complaint. He even handed over the photographs clicked by him to the police. “The Andheri police formed a special team and combed the entire area, looking for the suspects. Three of the accused persons were traced on Monday,’’ said senior inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi. “The arrested trio will be grilled for information on their associates. Some of those arrested even feature in photographs taken by John.’’ John had to be hospitalised following the attack. On Monday, he was summoned to the police station and identified the three arrested accused. toireporter@timesgroup.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

SILENCE PLEASE, NOW THAT REPORTERS ARE HERE


— Bella Jaisinghani TNN

PLACE: Holy Family Junction, Chakala TIME: 2 pm Aflurry of activity erupted at Chakala soon after journos arrived around 1.00 pm. AGNI activists arrived and began slapping anti-honking stickers that read “Hornla sutti’’ and “Horn ko chhutti’’ on the rear of autorickshaws. “Carowners will not allow us to do that. Rickshaw drivers do not object much and, in any case, few own the vehicles they drive,’’ AGNI’s Ashok Pai said. Most bewildered rickshaw drivers — unaware of the campaign — drove away without protest but a few like Vilas Ligade forbade activists from pasting stickers because they would be tough to remove. “Only those who care for their vehicles know what it takes to keep it in shape,’’ Ligade said “But you must tell me why I should not blow the horn,’’ he said. Inspector Narayanrao Patil of the airport traffic division drove up in his car to oversee things. “The anti-honking campaign is timed to coincide with World Health Day so that people become aware that noise is injurious to health. Many of the 100-odd people we fined were upset. They said they had only sounded the horn because the driver in front had made a mistake or because a pedestrian got in the way. They complained that we allowed the ‘actual offender’ to go. But we have a job to do and we will keep at it.’’ Activists turned to move away as the media wrapped up its reportage and prepared to leave. But Chakala petrol station attendants made them pick up the bits of adhesive paper left over from the stickers before they left. FINE’S FAIR The airport traffic division fined 100 drivers till 2 pm. SOUND-BITES The problem motorists like me face is that the dipper or flashlight is not easily seen during day and so the only way to demand right of way is by blowing the horn. This is a city in a hurry. Stephen Fernandes 22-YEAROLD LOGISTICS PROFESSIONAL

Monday, April 7, 2008

This ‘mobocracy’ is quite enough,


Citizens are
frustrated with the
mob mentality of
local political
parties and ठुग्स

Ashutosh Shukla
Tired of the apathy by the city police and politicians towards the mob mentality of various political parties, citizens from different parts of the city got together and pledged to vote out any party
that uses, what they call “mob-ocracy” instead of democracy to justify their thoughts and feelings. The Sunday meeting in Andheri which was organized by 12 NGOs — including AGNI, Bombay Catholic
Sabha, CitiSpace, H West Ward Citizen’s Trust among others — was attended by over a thousand Mumbaikars who then participated in a peace march to Andheri police station. The meeting comes in the
wake of the recent mob attacks led by political parties and other groups. The most recent one was a demonstration led by hawkers of Linking Road, where AGNI activist James John was beaten up by MNS leader Raj Thackeray’s supporters when he filmed them destroying public property. Speaking at the event, DM Sukhthan, chief secretary, said: “It is extremely sad and shameful when people trying
to help enforce law are beaten up. Some people trying to carve out a constituency for themselves are indulging in this sort of violence and the police are supporting them.” What disturbed activists even more was what they believed to be inaction on the part of the law enforcers — instead of enforcing the law, police limited their role to spectators. The activists plan to give a signed charter of demands
to the police commissioner, chief minister, deputy chief minister, heads of all political parties and public representatives. The attendees also demanded that senior citizens’ helpdesk be installed at every police station, to be headed by a nodal officer at the additional commissioner office level. Cautioning against the slow decline of the rule of law, theatre personality Alyque Padamsee said: “If people have a problem with policies of the state government, they should burn the chief minister’s car. Why do they touch taxis, schools, colleges, and trains?” Bringing Amitabh Bachchan into the picture, Padamsee said, “How does it matter which state he’s helping? He is helping Indians after all.” At the meeting it was discussed that residents need to address the root of the problem — political parties — and vote them out. One way to tackle this, said the activists is to improve coordination with the community and the police to avoid penetration of those parties with vested local interest. Sumaira Abdulali of
Aawaz foundation said: “Such groups that operate as a mafia need to be broken. The police is the first line of defence in our existing system. What do we do if we do not get help from them? It is time we form our group to fight them.” Citizens’ corporator, Adolf D’Souza said, “We try to oppose such mob mentality, and we get beaten up while the culprits go unpunished.” Residents, many of whom had come from as far as Vashi to attend the meeting, concurred with the views of the NGOs. Suhas Wavik, a Vashi resident said, “We need something like this to get ourselves heard.” Daphne Sardinha
from Bandra concurred. “They should implement the demand we have put forward. That should help us,” she said. s_ashutosh@dnaindia.net

Peace march held to protest attacks


TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: Several NGOs, hundreds of citizens and prominent personalities took out a peace march to the Andheri police station on Sunday to protest against the attack by Raj Thackeray’s supporters on a social activist in January, when the violence against north Indians had peaked. Several prominent social activists from the city had gathered at the Holy Family High School ground in Chakala in Andheri to lament the “mobocracy’’ unleashed by workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) against north Indians a few weeks ago. In a similar gathering, social activist James John, who belongs to the Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), was assaulted by MNS members for trying to take pictures of their vandalism. John had been admitted to the hospital with broken ribs and a fractured leg. Against this backdrop, activists decried the state’s role as a mute spectator while MNS members went on the rampage. The speakers included RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi, AGNI convener Gerson Da’Cunha, former municipal chief D M Sukhtankar, Independent corporator Adolf D’Souza and antinoise activist Sumera Abdulali. “These are worrying signs. Unless we rise together against this menace, the authorities will never wake up to mobocracy. The police should set up a separate cell to deal with such cases,’’ said Sukhthankar. Godfrey Pimenta, representing the Bombay Catholic Sabha, said the rallyists went to the Andheri police station in a ‘peace march’ after taking permission from the police. “The police first refused to accept the memorandum of the activists,’’ said Pimenta. Finally, the police accepted it saying they will hand it over to the senior police inspector on Monday, he added. The memorandum handed over to the police states that Mumbai is suffering from lawlessness that has never been seen before. Issues are being settled on the streets, mobs are impacting trade and attacking citizens. Politicians, powerbrokers and the police were also blamed. The citizens asked for the enforcement of the rule of law. They said there should be greater collaboration between the people and the police in fighting elements perpetrating mobocracy or mob violence.

CRY AGAINST VIOLENCE: Social activists gathered at the Holy Family High School ground in Chakala to lament the “mobocracy’’ by MNS workers

PUT AN END TO ‘MOBOCRACY’


ACTIVIST CITIZEN TAKE TO STREET IN ANDHERI DEMANDING RULE OF लव

ABOUT 650 people pledged a vote against mob violence or ‘mobocracy' demanding "enforcement of the rule of the law in our city and an end to rule by the mobs" at Andheri on Sunday.
They voiced their solidarity against the mob violence that had sent Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) activist James John to the hospital in February. John was busy collecting photographic evidence against mobs pulling down shop shutters the day Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and the Samajwadi Party's Abu Azmi were arrested. Five people snatched John's camera and attacked him, breaking his ribs and causing a ruptured muscle. Two attackers were arrested but subsequently released on bail.
On Sunday, AGNI organised the peace march, demanding that John's attackers be arrested and mob violence be put to an end. Activists and citizens gathered at the Holy Family School and after an hour-long session, citizens, in rows of three, marched to the MIDC police station holding placards demanding an end to ‘mobocracy'.
John urged citizens to come out and stop mob violence. "If you do not stop them now, they will be in your house tomorrow," said John.
Citizens and activists filed a petition of demand that will be sent to Com missioner of Police Hasan Gafoor and Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil. They said that mobs should not be allowed to prevent movie screenings or disrupt art exhibitions. A new law needs to be passed where people caught in vio lence acts should be sent to jail for 10 years, they said. They demanded special officers to look into activists' complaints.
The meeting was presided by former state chief secretary D.M. Sukhtankar, adman and theatre personality Alyque Padamsee, activist Shailesh Gandhi, corporator Adolf D'Souza, AWAZ Foun dation member Sumeria Abdulali and Rita D'sa of the Bombay Catholic Sabha.
Padamsee recalled how after he had once said that Mumbai would always be Bombay, a mob of 250 had gathered outside his house. After condemning mob violence, Padamsee borrowed American civil rights' activist Martin Luther King's words and said: "I have a dream and in that dream youngsters from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh walk hand in hand."
gigil.varghese@hindustantimes.com Talk to us Any suggestions on how the police can effectively deal with mob violence?
Email us at htmetro@hindustantimes.com You can also SMS us at HTtalk followed by your message and send it to 54242

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

CITIZEN`S MARCH – PEACE RALLY AGAINST MOB-OCRACY

NEARLY 1,000 people will hold a silent peace march ‘against mob-ocracy' from Andheri's Holy Family School up to Andheri police station on April 6.
Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) members, wearing white shirts and carrying black umbrellas and placards, feel that the police have not taken enough action against the miscreants re sponsible for the molestation of two women outside a Juhu hotel on New Year's night or against alleged Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists who attacked taxi drivers or against those who attacked AGNI co-ordinator James John.
"We are demanding a strict law against mob violence," said AGNI Trustee Gerson Da'Cunha, who will chair a meeting at the school before the march. "In many cases, the police are ineffective or slow-moving."
A memorandum will be chalked out at the meeting that would be handed over to the Andheri police to be forwarded to Commissioner Hassan Gafoor. The memorandum will report the mob attacks and make demands, including that action be taken against people teeming up, losing inhibitions and causing undeclared bandhs.
"In many cases, police do not intervene as the local slumlords, matka groups, encroachers, even politicians collude with the police. We want this to stop," said Da'Cunha.
They will also ask the police to set up cells to protect those who want to help establish evidence against the attackers. "In cases like John's, who was trying to click pictures of mobs forcing shops to close for evidence, he was attacked. Of the five attackers, only two were arrested and let off on bail," said Ravi Nair, march organiser and AGNI volunteer.
sayli.mankikar@hindustantimes.com WANT TO JOIN? ¦ What: AGNI Peace rally and meeting against mob attacks and lawlessness ¦ When: Sunday, April 6, 2008 ¦ Where: Holy Family School, Andheri (East) ¦ Dress Code: White shirt/top and black उम्ब्रेल्ला -- सय्ली UDAS

Monday, March 31, 2008

March against mobs

March against mobs
Posted On Sunday, March 30, 2008
WSP Correspondent
On April 6, a unique peace march will rally from Holy Family School Hall, Chakala till Andheri Police station to protest against mob violence. Points out activist Ravi Nair, an Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) member, “We only put up our hands and blame the mobs, when they disrupt our normal life. We decided to raise our voice and make it count. Errant mobsters rule our lives and law-abiding citizens bear the brunt. They walk away scot-free, and even administration does not bring to book such elements, because politicians and powerbrokers are also involved. Joining this march will be elected representatives, former members of the administration and police, representatives of citizen groups and activists such as like Navleen Kumar, S Ganesan, Sumaira Abdulali, Suryakant Panchal, H S D’Lima and Vaishali Patil. This peace march will also highlight the inefficiency of the police authorities, when recently, AGNI activist James John was assaulted at J B Nagar, and had to be hospitalised during the Raj Thackeray arrest drama. The police acted only after a few days.When: Sunday, April 6Where: Holy Family School Hall, Andheri EastAt: 4:00 p m to 6:30 p mCall: 9821295960 (Ravi Nair) / 9223298694 (Ashok Pai)

Friday, March 28, 2008

CITIZEN PEACE MARCH AGAINST MOB VIOLENCE

Hi all,The day is not far when you will have to take permission even to breath. Situation is such that there are chances where violence will broke out in just matter of seconds. Today's politician fancy themselves igniting violence just for trivial issues. You never know when you will be in the midst of mindless mob violence. The administration is just mute spectator. Your fundamental rights of peaceful living is blown to pieces. Mob-o-cracy has taken over and the victim is Democracy. There should be some end to it. Be prepare for a revolution again.
& THE REVOLUTION STARTS FROM 6TH APRIL…….. PLS JOIN US FOR THE PUBLIC MEETING & SILENT PEACE MARCH AT HOLY FAMILY SCHOOL HALL AT 4 PM ON 6TH APRIL
DRESS CODE :- WHITE TOP & BLACK UMBRELLA