How many times have you wished to know how does your area MLA/councillor spend the funds that he or she receives for local area development (LAD)?
Thanks to two landmark decisions by Information Commission Shailesh Gandhi, citizens across Delhi can hope to know exactly how and for what the MLA/councillor funds are being spent.
Anjali Bhardwaj and 317 other citizens from the Satark Nagarik Sangathan (SNS) had drawn attention of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that the details of funds available to the councillors or the elected members of Assembly should be available suo motu for the knowledge of the general public.
The SNS is a citizens' group that uses the Right to Information (RTI) Act to access information and prepare report cards on the performance of elected representatives.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has 272 councillors, who had received R2 crore each in 2008-09 and R50 lakh each in 2009-10. This financial year, they are expected to receive more than R2 crore and the budget provides for a similar amount for 2011-12.
The CIC's attention was also drawn to the fact that from 2007 to 2010, the MCD had spent approximately R875 crore as councillor funds. The MLAs get R2 crore every year, hence along with this fund, the total amount shoots up to R400 crore approximately every year.
"This information is available on the respective websites in English. But common man with limited means cannot be expected to have access to internet," Bhardwaj told the Hindustan Times.
"But the more important issue is that these funds are often spent on non-priority works, while basic development needs of people remain largely unaddressed," she added. Gandhi has directed the Delhi's chief secretary and the MCD commissioner to put up boards displaying this information in Hindi - without using any abbreviations or acronyms - in every ward of Delhi by March 15. He has also asked for a compliance report.