Saturday, February 28, 2009

Want to be the worst at everything you do??? Learn from the "AP Information Commission" !!!

The title of this post speaks for itself. I will only try to present some facts to corroborate the title.


The AP Information Commission declared Sankranti Vacation from 'Friday the 2nd January, 2009 to Friday the 16th January, 2009 (both days inclusive)'. This is what the Notification said,

Under Regulation 6 of the A.P. Information Commission Management Regulations, 2007, the Chief Information Commissioner, APIC hereby notifies the Sankranti Vacation for the A.P. Information Commission shall be from Friday the 2nd January, 2009 to Friday the 16th January, 2009 (both days inclusive), co-terminus with the vacation of the Hon’ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh.

Nothing strange in the commission declaring holidays. Then what is all this fuss about?
The Management regulations cited in the notification allow for only 4 days of Vacation for Sankranti. Then how come the commission declared itself a vacation spanning 2 weeks? This is what Regulation 6 says,

The Commission will have summer vacation of 4 weeks during May/June, Dasara vacation of 4 days during the month of October/ November and Sankranthi vacation of 4 days in the month of January, as notified by the Chief Information Commissioner from time to time. The office of the Commission will, however, remain open during vacation except on gazetted holidays.

The commission has had summer and dusshera holidays as per the regulation. Not sure where these extra holidays came from.

Probably these holidays include last year's sankranti vacation too !!!

1. Summer Holidays : 5th May to 6th June, 2008.
2. Dusshera Holidays: 3rd October to 10th October, 2008.
3. Sankranti Holidays: 2nd January to 16th January, 2009.

Already the average waiting time for an appeal to be heard in the commission is 3-4 months. The number of pending appeals is increasing by the day. Instead of cutting short on holidays and working towards deciding on pending appeals, the commission declares extra holidays that are not even in their own Management regulations.


An RTI activist from Guntur called me up a few days ago and was complaining about the commission. There is nothing new in this. But he was furious about the fact that his appeal related to 'Endowments' was transferred to A. Subba Rao overnight whereas the letter he received was from Mr Arha. The commission staff told him that Endowments as a department is now being handled by Subba Rao. This was a surprise for me and apparently this change is in effect for quite some time now.

I called up the deputy secretary of the commission immediately and asked him if is true. He said that endowments is now handled by Subba Rao. Then i asked him why the website is not updated even when the change was done quite some time ago. I picked up on this and added "Information Commission itself is misleading people with false information". Since am a familiar name in the commission, he was somewhat worried about what i would do and hence promised that the website would be updated. In a few hours time, i received a call from him again and he asked me to check the website now. The website now reflects the changes in the work distribution.

It took me a call and a little bit of anger to change a simple thing in the commission !!!


The AP Information Commission is now allotted 1 Acre Land in Gachibowli that is worth Rs 10 Crore. The commission has requested that land and will now construct its own building there.

Download the GO here

Not even 10 Lakh rupees are spent on publicizing RTI, but the commission needs prime land in the city outskirts that too in the software hub. Had the Govt spent even 10% of that amount (Rs 1 crore) on publicizing RTI, it would have been much more beneficial than giving land to an ineffective and inept commission !!

Applicants from across the state are already finding it difficult to commute to Hyderabad and stay here for a hearing in the commission. This problem will only get accentuated when the commission's premises shifts to the outskirts.

Dont you think the title is fully justified now? Its getting worse by the day and we cannot just sit back and relax. Time to do some serious stuff against the commission and its working !!!

Use RTI !!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Satyam - Maytas Saga and RTI !!!

Me and fellow RTI activist Umesh chanced upon some interesting information when Umesh filed an RTI on EWS (economically weaker sections housing). This was almost a month before Ramalinga Raju announced his resignation. Had we pursued it then itself, we would probably have unearthed the biggest corporate scam. Anyways better late than never.

The investigation by our group was started when we observed certain companies (14) applying for land use change citing needs of SEZs being developed by Maytas Properties Pvt. Limited.

All these companies are represented by Rajus and all surprisingly have similar sounding names which raised doubts. We then decided to conduct our enquiry using public documents like those available with RoC and Revenue Department Land Records.

We held a press conference on 10th February, 2009 and below are the details.

(Open the link and then download the documents from Sky Drive)

1. The Press Invite

2. The Press Note

3. More details about the companies

The documents revealed the story behind and how even the regulatory agencies like the ROC did not find anything fishy in this apparent and brazen way of misleading people and the system.

Sample this one document and you will know what went on behind the scenes.
"B. Teja Raju (son of Ramalinga Raju) resigns from one company namely "Maytas Ventures SEZ" and interstingly quotes the name of an other company "Maytas Hill County SEZ" in the body of the letter"

The press meet was well attended and it was covered in both the National and Local dailies.

Indian Express

The Hindu

The Times of India

Andhra Jyothy




This is just a sample of what RTI can do.

Use RTI !!!