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RTI helps the complainant to have the matter investigated at the highest level

FFINALLY, Raj Bhavan became aware of irregularities in the Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojna at J&K, particularly in Budgam district. The Lieutenant Governor’s Secretariat has recently directed the Commissioner-Secretary of Government, Civil Food Supply and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) to investigate the matter and submit the report within 3 days. For more than a year, several complaints have been pouring in from different areas of J&K, especially in the heights of Budgam district where people have been looted by LPG companies. People had to pay money for LPG cylinders and Ujjwala stoves which otherwise had to be given away for free.

On hearing of a complaint lodged by RTI activist Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, a resident of Batwodder Surasyar Chadoora in Budgam district, the LG Secretariat ordered the Commissioner Secretary FCS & CA to thoroughly investigate the matter . He was also asked to submit the report to the LG Secretariat by March 3.rd 2022 .

context

LG Manoj Sinha on his monthly radio show Awam ki Awaz had spoken of the Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojna in his Awam ki Awaz program on November 21st 2021.

Mushtaq had brought the matter to the attention of LG Sinha by writing him a detailed letter. LG has highlighted this issue in the Awam ki Awaz radio and assured Mushtaq of an investigation into the matter.

After a month, when Mushtaq heard nothing from Raj Bhavan, he filed a Right to Information (RTI) request to the LG secretariat to find out the status of his complaint which was discussed by the Lieutenant Governor during the Awam ki Awaz program.

Information sought

December 21st In 2021, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone filed a request under the RTI Act seeking details of the action taken by LG’s office in response to his complaint. The RTI application reads as follows:

During the Awam ki Awaz program on November 21st Hon. LG Shri Manoj Sinha spoke about Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojna. I had sent him a complaint about this because there is a lot of embezzlement and corruption. I would like the following information in this regard:

  1. Has your office made any formal communication with LPG companies or the government on the issue of the Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojna which is marred by large scale corruption in J&K, especially Budgam district?
  2. Please provide a copy of the letter sent by Raj Bhavan to the relevant officers to investigate the matter.
  3. Has any response been received by Raj Bhavan in this matter? Please provide certified copies of letters received in this regard
  4. Did Raj Bhavan ask the government or deputy commissioners to upload a list of Prime Minister’s Ujjwala recipients on official websites?

The special secretary intervenes

When Mushtaq did not receive any information within the given time from Public Information Officer Pankaj Bagotra (Additional Secretary), he filed a first appeal to Mr. Pankaj Kumar Sharma, Special Secretary who is the first appeal authority ( FAA) designated.

The FAA called Mushtaq for an online hearing via Zoom on February 25and 2022. The PIO was also present during the hearing.

Prior to the appeal hearing, the special secretary ensured that Mushtaq was given a better hearing. Raj Bhavan’s officials called him several times a few days before the hearing to make sure he had a better internet connection.

The FAA (Special Secretary) told Mushtaq during the hearing that he would write a letter to the General Administration Department (GAD) and the Civilian Food Supply and Consumer Affairs Department. The officer finally made a new communication with the Department of Food and asked the Commissioner Secretary on behalf of the Lieutenant Governor to investigate the matter. A report was requested within just 3 days.

No probe launched

There are several videos on social media that prove indigent people in J&K were looted, especially in the Budgam district. Local news channels also revealed it. The newspapers wrote about it, but the government doesn’t even bother to investigate this matter. The matter had to be taken to the highest level (Raj Bhavan). This author uploaded all videos and newspaper articles about Ujjwala scam on social media. Budgam’s deputy commissioner is aware of all this because his official Twitter account has been tagged by me several times about it.

However, unfortunately, he did not even ask an SHO in the area to file an FIR on the matter. Is it good governance?

The poor are being ripped off by LPG companies and their dealers not only at J&K but also nationally.

In August 2019, Uttar Pradesh Police had also exposed a scam involving this scheme in Balrampur district, and later that year the Comptroller and Auditor General of India also uncovered a massive scam in the part of this scheme. This requires a CBI investigation in all states.

Earlier this year, the free ration meant for the poor under Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojna was looted, and it was reported by Kashmir Observer and I have also expounded this in my weekly program Inkishaf. This issue, too, has yet to be considered by Deputy Commissioner Budgam.

Mushtaq had filed complaints on various forums. He was assured to act but so far not even an FIR has been filed against the culprits who took money from the poor for Ujjwala LPG gas to be given free to BPL families. Deputy manager Food Budgam also had the matter checked after being directed by LG’s grievance cell, but that report has not been made public either.

Conclusion

Prime Minister Ujjwala’s scheme is marred by large-scale corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Budgam district, Mushtaq and his colleagues visited several villages to see whether the beneficiaries had received the subsidized gas or not, but on the ground they were told that people had to pay money (Rs 2000 to 4000) for this. As the case has now been taken up by Raj Bhavan directly with the administrative department of the Department of Civil Food Supply and Consumption, it is hoped that the culprits will soon be brought to justice.


  • The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the editorial position of Kashmir Observer

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