Bhopal, Dec 24 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh State Information Commission has asked the panchayat and rural development department to put online details of complaints received by the ombudsman appointed for dealing with grievances related to rural job guarantee scheme MGNREGA.
In an order, Information Commissioner Rahul Singh also directed the state government to ensure that public information officers (PIOs) and first appellate authorities are in place in all offices of the ombudsman to deal with RTI applications related to the scheme.
The order came following an appeal filed by Pushpraj Tiwari, who had approached the commission in July this year regarding non-appointment of PIO in the ombudsman’s office in Rewa. PIOs are appointed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to deal with applications.
The ombudsman’s office in Rewa had refused to accept Tiwari's application, saying there is no PIO.
Tiwari’s was also not allowed to give the application to the office of the PIO for the superintendent of police and the Special Police Establishment (Lokayukt), Rewa division, that works in the same building that houses the ombudsman's office.
The member of the divisional vigilance committee is notified by the state government under 'the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukt Evam Up-Lokayukt Adhiniyam, 1981' as the ombudsman, according to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (Appointment, Powers, Duties of the Ombudsman) Madhya Pradesh Rules, 2013.
The applicant, aggrieved by the refusal, approached the Madhya Pradesh State Information Commission.
He also sent the application by post to the Lokayukt’s office in the Rewa division, that transferred his plea to the Lokayukt’s office in Bhopal. The office of the Lokayukt in Bhopal then sent the application back to the ombudsman in Rewa.
Hearing the case, Information Commissioner Singh said in the order that it was a matter of extreme disappointment that the application was sent from one department to another like a “football”.
The commission directs the principal secretary of the panchayat and rural development department to ensure that district-wise details of complaints handled by the ombudsman MGNREGA is available online, Singh said in the order issued on Wednesday.
Information like details of the complaint, name of the complainant, name of the person against whom the complaint has been made should be put up on the website, said the order in Hindi. The department asked to also ensure that a copy of the complaint and the order of the ombudsman on it is also available on the website. Besides, a provision should also be made to show online the status of the complaint, whether pending or disposed of, according to the order.
The commission has given three months time to the government to ensure compliance of its order in this regard.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has provisions to provide for at least 100 days work to eligible members of every household.
The ombudsman has the power to receive grievances related to payment of wages, demand for work and worksite facilities among others.
In the order, Singh has also asked the state government to put in public domain all the relevant information related to the ombudsman appointed under the MGNREGA.
He cited the example of Bihar that has made a provision to provide details related to disposal of grievances received by the ombudsman on district-level web portals.
Reacting to the order, anti-corruption activist Ajay Dubey said the Lokayukt is responsible for ensuring implementation of the RTI Act through the divisional vigilance committee whose members act as the MGNREGA ombudsman.
'The ombudsman should use their power effectively for elimination of corruption in MGNREGA that is meant for the welfare of weaker section,' said Dubey. PTI AKV AKV ANB ANB