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Archive for October, 2006

Have we forgotten Manjunath?:: Bhamy V Shenoy

Posted by ekavi on October 15, 2006

Have we forgotten Manjunath?

It was less than a year back on November 19th, Manjunath Shanmugam,
an IIM graduate gave his life to the country while trying to expose
the corruption in petroleum marketing. For a month or so, his heroic
efforts to expose corruption caught the attention of the nation.
During the same time the nation remembered the sacrifice of
Satyendranath Dubey, an IIT graduate. Dubey was murdered two years
earlier for a similar noble cause of exposing corruption in highway
construction. The nation applauded their heroic deeds though there
were some cynics who wondered about their naïve attempts to fight
corruption.

Fighting corruption in petroleum sector was put on the national agenda
only for few days. It was ironical that within few days of the murder
of Manjunath the corruption charges against Satish Sharma the new
avatar of petroleum corruption were dropped. It was not because there
was not enough proof. It was just that the ministry did not want to
press charges! Is this the way to honor the memory of an idealist like
Manjunath?

The political class which is the beneficiaries of the highly
subsidized kerosene does not like to change the system. However the
murder of Manjunath changed that. At least that is what some of use
diehard optimists thought. First our Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh
assured the nation that he would ask the petroleum ministry to
streamline the pricing system to reduce incentives to defraud. It was
followed by a solemn assurance by the then Petroleum Minister Mani
Shankar Iyer. Every one believed that as a result of supreme sacrifice
of Manjunath, pricing anomaly of selling kerosene at highly subsidized
prices will be removed finally.

Time has proven us wrong. It has only worsened. The difference between
kerosene price and competitive products of petrol and diesel has only
widened over the year and so also the adulteration. Last July, there
was a national level seminar on curbing oil adulteration. Petroleum
Minister Murali Deora took part in that seminar. I made a detailed
presentation during the seminar quantifying the level of corruption in
petroleum sector.

I estimated it to be more than Rs. 40000 crores per year. My
presentation was dedicated to the memory of Manjunath, a gesture which
was well received. But the same participants failed to connect the
corruption that I was discussing with the reason for Manjunath’s
murder. I was pleading with the minister that there are better
foolproof ways of helping the poor with supplying kerosene. But the
minister was adamant that he would not touch kerosene price. I
challenged him by stating that any thing else he does will not solve
the root cause of corruption for which Manjunath had sacrificed his
life. Not one news paper carried this news item. Are we waiting for
some more sacrifices from upright officers like Manjunath?

Every one knows the real beneficiaries of kerosene subsidies. It is
the political class. Umpteen reports have proven the fact that poor
are not the beneficiaries. But no political party dare question the
petroleum pricing system since it is their members and financiers who
are minting money to the extent of Rs. 40000 crores per year. It is
that rotten system Manjunath had the idealism and courage to challenge.

If we want to show our appreciation for the noble deed of Manjunath,
as his death anniversary nears we as a nation need to do far more than
what we have done so far. His sacrifice will not amount to much unless
we uphold the principles for which he gave his life.

His last alma mater IIM Lucknow, his employer Indian Oil Company, and
SJCE at Mysore where he spent his formative years getting his
engineering degree have tried in their own ways to pay respects to his
memory. The trust started in his name has been able to collect less
than 50% of its target of Rs. 50 lakhs.

It is not clear why the trust has to pay the bills of lawyers fighting
the case on behalf of Manjnath’s family. His employer IOC should take
up the legal and moral responsibility of punishing the guilty. The
case is moving at snail’s speed despite it being an open and shut
case. IOC has instituted an award in the name of Manjunath for
honoring the best quality team. What an irony! It should have fought
in the first place to remove the pricing anomaly. There is no one to
champion such a dramatic reform.

A web based petition drive demanding for a full inquiry and justice in
the murder of Manjuanth has just got a total signature of 14200 till
the first week of Oct, 2006. Many who signed have suggested that to
honor Manjunath in real sense of the word, we need to get rid of the
current rotten pricing system. Otherwise his sacrifice would have been
in vain.

As the death anniversary nears, the government should seriously
consider implementing recommendations made by the planning commission
to streamline the pricing and remove all incentives to adulterate
petroleum products. They should also get rid of multi tier pricing of
LPG (LPG is sold at three different prices in residential, commercial
and automotive markets). LPG marketing is another activity where
corruption is rampant. The only lasting way we can honor Manjunath is
to start the process of unwinding kerosene subsidies and reduce
corruption.

Bhamy V Shenoy <bhamysuman@hotmail.com>

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Posted in WB Manjunath | 12 Comments »

Babus : ACR : RTI Act Implementation

Posted by ekavi on October 6, 2006

  • Dhirendra Krishna Says:
    September 3rd, 2006 at 6:14 am e
    The code for civil servants should also make it obligatory for them to take all possible measures (within their sphere of duty)to promote the RTI Active.

    Pro-active measures to implement RTI Act should be mentioned in their Annual Confidential Report, as it is indicative of their positive approach towards democratic governance and also their desire to improve the administrative processes to make governance responsive to the citizens. RTI calls for systemic reforms to enhance public accountability and for removing the abberations; officials need encouragement in their efforts in this direction.

    Any negative measures taken by them to stall RTI Act should result in an adverse comment in the ACR. Any one who retains colonial attitude of bossing over the public instead of working like “civil servant” deserves to be eased out from his job.

    DOPT should issue instructions in this regard, which may be given wide publicity, including mention in their web site. At present, there is no indication from the Government which encourages pro-RTI sentiment amongst the Government servants. On the contrary and unfortunately, DOPT is seen as adversory to RTI implementation,in view of the stumbling blocks created by them by proposed changes in RTI Act and deliberate mistake in their web site {excluding file notings from the definition of “information”.}

    Not enough is being done to encourage atitudinal changes in the official machinery, who regards RTI activist as an adversory.

  • Posted in Govt. of India | 1 Comment »

    SC seeks CVC status report on ‘whistle-blowers’

    Posted by ekavi on October 6, 2006

    SC seeks CVC status report on ‘whistle-blowers’

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2100453.cms

    NEW DELHI: More than two years ago, a direction from the Supreme Court on a PIL had forced the Centre to come out with an ordinance making the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) the ears for whistle-blowers, in the wake of the murder of Satyendra Dubey.

    And now, a Supreme Court Bench, comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice C K Thakker, hearing the same PIL filed jointly by NGO Parivartan and Dubey’s father, has asked for the balance sheet from the ‘watch dog’ on the complaints received against corrupt officials.

    In April 2004, the court as an interim measure, had agreed to the Centre bringing an ordinance to protect those raising their voice against corruption.

    The ministry of personnel came out with the Public Interest Disclosures and Protection of Informers Resolution, 2004, under which CVC was the designated authority to look into complaints on corruption.

    After hearing petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan, the Bench asked CVC to prepare a report on the number of complaints it has received from whistle-blowers till date, and the action taken on them.

    Bhushan then shifted focus on the CBI probe into the murder of Dubey, an IITian who was working as deputy general manager in National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), and supervising the Aurangabad-Barachatti sector of the Golden Quadrilateral project.

    The NGO had alleged that he was shot dead in broad daylight in Gaya because he had written a confidential communication to PMO on November 11, 2002, alleging that trans-national companies bagged the highway projects at high costs and then sub-leased them to local contractors at low prices.

    Counsel said the CBI chargesheet terming Dubey’s murder as a case of simple robbery draws suspicion of the common man, as to whether the reputed investigating agency conducted a shoddy probe, or is trying to hush up the matter.

    After hearing his arguments, the Bench asked CBI to conduct an independent verification of the contractors who were engaged in National Highway Authority of India work on the Aurangabad-Barachatti sector, at the time of Dubey’s tenure.

    Posted in CVC, Uncategorized | 22 Comments »

    SC seeks report from CVC on complaints by whistle-blowers

    Posted by ekavi on October 1, 2006

     SC seeks report from CVC on complaints by whistle-blowers

    Press Trust of India

    New Delhi, September 29, 2006

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1809486,0008.htm
    The Supreme Court on Friday sought to know from the Central Vigilance
    Commission (CVC) about the action taken by it on the complaints
    received about corruption from whistle-blowers.

    A Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal granted six weeks to the
    CVC to give a detail report in this regard.

    The order to this effect was passed during the hearing of a petition
    filed by an NGO, Parivartan, which has sought special investigation
    into the murder of Satyendra Dubey, an engineer of National Highway
    Authority of India (NHAI), who was associated with the Golden
    Quadrilateral project in Bihar.

    After hearing the NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan, the Court also asked
    the CBI to see whether verification of contractors involved in the
    project during Dubey’s tenure can be done or not.

    The NGO had not only sought investigation into Dubey’s murder but also
    into the allegations of corruption.

    Posted in CVC, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »