No Work on Health Centre for 17 years; Even RTI of no help to villagers – Ashutosh Sharma – Tribune – 1 Dec. 2010

Jammu, December 1
Even the Right to Information (RTI) Act has not been able to inform villagers of Mahra in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district about the reason for the stalling of the construction work on the proposed building for a health centre for the past 17 years.

The villagers said the Department of Rural Development started the work at the site in 1993, but only walls were built. Thereafter, the construction was stalled due to unknown reasons.The walls have also collapsed now.

Ayaz Mughal filed an RTI application on behalf of the villagers with the District Development Commissioner (DDC) on September 18 this year. The DDC marked the application to the Chief Medical Officer, Poonch, who forwarded it to the Assistant Commissioner Development, Poonch.

After a month, Mughal started visiting different offices, but could not get the required information. Instead, he had to allegedly face “disgraceful behaviour” at the hand of various officials. “Villagers smell corruption in the Department of Rural Development. We have come to know that the department has drawn money from the state exchequer, but it has not been used for the purpose,” said Mughal.

He claimed that he submitted the application under the RTI Act after filing a complaint in this regard in the Chief Minister’s Grievances Cell. “I lodged a complaint in the Grievances Cell in March. I did not get any response despite sending more than 20 reminders,” he alleged.

In the RTI application, Mughal on behalf of the villagers had sought details of the tender process, the construction work and the funds released for the project, besides the reasons for stopping the work.

“The Block Medical Officer (BMO), Surankote, visited the site after we brought the issue to his notice. Subsequently, the CMO, Poonch, wrote to the DDC, Poonch, and the Director, Health Services,” Mughal said, showing the official correspondence of the CMO with the DDC, Poonch.

Mughal demanded that accountability should be fixed and officials concerned must be held responsible for the delay.

When contacted, DDC, Poonch, KL Khajuria said: “The applicant must come to me for information. There is nothing to hide.The area had been militancy-prone for a long time, so the work had to be stalled. There is no dearth of funds and the construction work would be started again shortly,” he added.



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