The power of a Rs 10 Right to Information (RTI) application to probe how authorities are using public money is on display again, this time in the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation entrusted the 89-sq km township on Mumbai's northern edge.
Accounting consultant and Mira Road resident Pramod Patil's RTI application to the corporation in December threw up the names of over 70 officials and organisations whom the civic body has awarded advances, but who still haven't reported back with the money's use.
Public funds worth Rs 80 lakh of, handed out to officials since 1993, is still unaccounted for. Officials also have to account for a further Rs 64.5 lakh they have drawn till November of current financial year. According to the corporation's rule, officials who take money in advance, should account for its expenditure as soon as they spend the money, and within that financial year.
Municipal Commissioner Sudamrao Gaikwad, who started "a recovery drive" in December 2005, following Patil's application told HT: "I am issuing recovery notices to officials, with the threat of the money being cut from their salary if they don't account for the spending immediately."
But Patil is sceptical. "Some of the officials have been transferred. Almost Rs 4 lakh was given to officials who have now retired.
Officials who have money pending against their names since successive years are still drawing advances. The only term for this is financial mismanagement," he added.
Sandip Shinde, an officer in the health department, who from 1995 to 2006 has run up an “advance bill” of Rs 14.4 lakh said it was only a procedural lapse.
"I have submitted bills to the government as per rules. I just need to give it to the corporation," Shinde added.