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Avinash Murkute


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Published by Times of India - Nagpur
March 09, 2008
For all those who wish to get there septic tank cleaned here is good news, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) health department will carry out the work within 3 days. This is not all; zone officers will monitor each request and inform the applicant for delay if any. R.Z Siddique, Appellate Authority under RTI act 2005 cum Controlling Officer of Health Department of Nagpur Municipal Corporation was not afraid of admitting departmental mistakes but also paved the way for better governance and public service. Thanks to RTI appeal filed by Avinash Murkute, a resident of Wandongri Nagpur, who suffered a lot, but was committed to lead by examples.

In city areas there is sewerage infrastructure in place. Wherever drainage system to remove sewage is missing, captive septic tanks are in use. NMC provides facility of sewage removal from stinking septic tanks in city and in adjoining city areas. Murkute submitted a request to Laxminagar zone of NMC for sewage removal from septic tank situated at his Wanadongri residence situated 10 km away from city. He paid rupees 1200 as fees on November 01, 2007 for the work which was promised to be executed within seven days and before Diwali.

In a sorry state of affairs, nobody bothered to look his request and his telephonic reminders went down to drains till he filed RTI query on November 22, 2007. Number of applications received in last 3 months, date of application, amount of fees charged, date of execution of work, name of complaint officer and status on his application were prayed as information items.

Work got executed within two days of receipt of RTI application but information prayed was not shared till he visited Laximinagar Zone office on January 09, 2008. As per RTI act 2005, it is mandatory for public information officer (PIO) to share information to information seekers within 30 calendar days. Finally information was home delivered on January 11, 2008.

Although information was requested by postal mode it was delivered by misusing government vehicle-n-resources, information is incomplete and there was delay of 20 days in supplying information were the reasons for filing the appeal cited Murkute. To contain corruption and mismanagement, there is need to formulate standard operation policy (SOP) for executing septic tank cleaning requests was also suggested by Murkute.

Appeal was decided on February 21, 2008 at NMC headquarters where PIO, Assistant PIO and appellant were present. During last September 2007 to November 2007 only twelve applications were received by Laxminagar Zone but PIO failed to comply with the provisions of RTI act 2005 by providing incomplete information as date of execution of septic tank cleaning requests is not provided. Information was supplied in haphazard manner and delay in providing the information has been confirmed on the basis of perusal of papers. After inquiry PIO is liable to be fined with per day fine of rupees 250 for his lapse was the order passed by first appellate authority.

R.Z. Siddique, controlling officer Health found merit in prescribing SOP for septic tank cleaning requests and also passed below order so that other citizens are not harassed

1. All cash receipts should bear a rubber seal that septic tank cleaning will be done in 3 days. Such cash receipts should also have mobile number of zone officers.

2. For effective monitoring, an internal circular should be issued that all requests should be presented to health inspector or zone officer on the same or very next day of its receipt.

3. Delay in executing the work due to administrative or machinery failure should be duly informed to applicants and this responsibility will rest with zone officer.

Order passed by NMC appellate authority is in harmony with letter and spirit of RTI act 2005 and I am happy that first appellate authority has set the right precedent said Murkute.
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