Man pays Rs 16K, gets blank papers

SRINIVASAN .jpg.crop_display.jpg

The officials in Mannachanallur union have sent 1,700 blank pages to an RTI activist who, as directed by the officials, remitted Rs 16,080 seeking documents related to alleged irregularities of a panchayat president in auctioning karuvela trees (black babul trees).

The 33-year-old RTI applicant, K. Srinivasan of Perakambi village, in Mannachanallur union, has decided to file a writ in the high court.

“Perakambi panchayat president Logeswari Anjanenjan, colluding with officials, had entrusted the task of felling the karuvela trees, grown on 120 acres, to a contractor for a paltry Rs 39.24 lakh without proper advertisement in newspapers, causing a huge loss to the exchequer,” said Srinivasan.

After he brought it to the notice of collector Jayashree Muralidharan, she cancelled the power of the president and vice-president R. Balakrishnan to sign cheques and documents.

When Srinivasan sought information and documents pertaining to the period from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009 through an RTI application, there was no response. It was only on the collector’s directions that the situation changed.

Even after he paid Rs 16,080 for the 3,126-page documents, the officials kept dodging him. “A few days later, the assistant director of panchayats, Rajendra Prasad, and BDO Mallika summoned me and pressurised me to withdraw the petition. I refused to,” said Srinivasan.

He was then told to remit the money in the bank and on September 4, received a bundle containing 2,728 pages — but 1,700 were blank.

“When I attempted to bring it to the notice of the collector during the public grievance redressal programme on October 1, project officer Radhakrishnan and Rajendra Prasad tried to snatch the papers” Srinivasan said.

“Without hearing my version, the collector shouted at me and asked me to get the documents through the court,” Srinivasan added.

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