ACHIEVEMENTS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE GUARDS (GGG)
Campaign to propagate the goals of GGG was carried out from its inception in 1998 through the coloumns of Talk of the Trade, a weekly tabloid edited by Shri. S.S. Radhakrishnan, who was first the Secretary and then the President of the Organisation. The paper had a readership of about 10,000 among the businessmen in the country. The paper all through gave coverage to those news items and carried about 600 editorials meant to motivate and persuade public servants and other agencies engaged in public life to ensure accelerated development, without any chance for the corruption to flourish, in all walks of nations’ life Click here to view Photo
The concept of co-operative societies, the promotion of which is one of the ‘direct action’ areas of GGG, was given a thrust by uniting various associations of residents of Adyar and Besant Nagar falling within the PIN Code areas 600020 and 600090 in Chennai City. The two different Federation(s) of Residents Welfare Associations have been formed and got registered with the Registrar of Cooperative Societies of Tamil Nadu. These Federations have achieved results by collective action for improvement of living standards in their respective areas by removing encroachments and traffic congestions, eradicating mosquito menace, removing water logging, garbage disposal and improvement of law and order by interacting with Police Department. These Federations continue to be active and efforts are on to showcase their achievements so as to persuade other PIN code area residents to emulate the success story. Click here to view Photo
Legal steps were taken to persuade the Police Department to curtail nuisance caused due to consumption of alcohol in public by obtaining order from the High Court of Madras through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by GGG. Acting on the High Court’s direction, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Adyar, picked up a few miscreants who were consuming alcohol in public.
Possible loss of huge revenue to the Union Government due to lack of proper supervision of the exports and the Duty Drawback Scheme, carried out through the Chennai sea and air ports, was brought to the notice of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on the basis of information collected under RTI Act. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) carried out a detailed study on the projected matter and GGG is still following up the same for a reasonable conclusion, though officials take a lackadaisical stand to cover up the likely loss in revenue to the tune of many crores due to prolonged inaction as per the laws and procedures in this respect. As a sequel, various Custom Houses of the country issued show cause notices to several exporters who had availed drawback but had not produced evidence of remittance of foreign exchange in respect of the goods exported by them.
The agony of importers and exporters using the sea and air ports of Chennai of not having a regular Commissioner to consider their appeals against the orders passed by the officials of the Customs was taken up by GGG with the Ministry of Finance. Having received no favourable response, a PIL was filed in the High Court of Madras and, as a result, direction was got issued to the Union of India to fill up the post of Commissioner of Customs (Appeals), Chennai. The Administration complied with the order only for a temporary period and the post has been again kept vacant. GGG has sent a legal notice to the Union of India as a prelude to moving a second PIL on the issue.
The Right to Information (RTI) Act was frequently used to elicit information from various departments of the Union and State Governments as part of the legal assistance to various citizens. The alertness caused by RTI queries has resolved many of the pending issues. The information obtained has been utilised to make specific representations in some other cases. To mention one, GGG had sent an RTI application to the Ministry of Human Resource Development to ascertain the quantum of collection of Education Cess and its utilization. The reply revealed that about Rs.500 crores was lying unutilized despite the fact that several schools across India did not have the basic infrastructural facilities. GGG is taking up the matter with the concerned authority to ensure that Right to Education does not remain on paper.
Efforts have been made to remind the citizens about their responsibility to protect the environment. Planting of saplings and also freely distributing the saplings to the needy, especially fruit-bearing ones like mango and papaya, have been done, though the reach was limited due to paucity of funds. The trees have started yielding fruits. GGG also campaigned for saving power and for better and efficient power distribution in south Chennai. Potted plants and mugs were distributed at cost price with the motto “FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING” written on them. Click here to view Photo
GGG has, as a part of the village development programme, taken efforts to encourage the farmers of Panthadu Village, Villipuram District, Tamil Nadu to enhance their income by adopting additional farm practices like growing mushroom and fruit bearing trees in the spare farm land. This model is to be spread to all the villages in India so that large scale output of food substitutes without disturbing the present farm practices could be achieved in our drive to meet food scarcity. Click here to view Photo
The practice of people of Chennai city using old door numbers, in addition to the new numbers, which was causing avoidable confusion, was taken up with Post Master General for issuing a message to the public that Postal Department is not in need of old door numbers for reaching the postal articles. PMG felt that it is not his concern and forwarded the request to the Corporation of Chennai. They are yet to take any step to do away with the old door numbers creeping into correspondence and documents though the new numbers have come into existence more than a decade back.
Customs, Central Excise & Service Tax Tribunal (CESTAT) is holding a backlog of about 30,000 appeals, some of which are even a decade old. Many of these appeals have become superfluous due to the passage of time as the provisions of law have undergone change and decisions of higher courts have re-drawn new contours of law and procedures. Eight specific suggestions were given to the President, CESTAT for liquidating the backlog within six months and also making it possible to dispose of appeals within a week of their receipts. The President, CESTAT has not even acknowledged the representation though repeated reminders were sent to him. The matter has also been brought to the attention of the Finance Minister of India.
Concrete suggestions were given to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board for saving power, at least to the tune of 25% which has not evoked any response from the said representation.
The delay in getting the copy of the orders from the Registry of the High Court of Madras was taken up the Registrar General, High Court of Madras.
The agony of the people queuing up for booking railway tickets even 12 hours in advance, that too in the night and on the road (example: at Rajaji Bhavan, Besant Nagar, Chennai) was brought to the notice of the General Manager, Southern Railway. He took certain temporary steps, but the agony continues.
The need for setting up urinals at required locations in Chennai city was taken up with the Chennai Municipal Corporation.
The discarded Government cars were blocking the limited parking area of Shastri Bhawan, Chennai. The action taken by GGG ensured quick disposal of the cars.
The practice of Government cars blocking the passengers coming out of the arrival hall of the Chennai airport was taken up with the Director, Airport Authority of India, which problem by and large, requires to be further pursued as Government and Public Sector vehicles continue to cause inconvenience to the general public in the airport.
The practice of Government Notifications, Circulars etc. appearing at least 24 hours in advance in private owned and paid websites before they are uploaded in the Government websites was taken up with the Chairman, Central Board of Excise & Customs. The letter was neither acknowledged nor any action taken by the Chairman.
Lack of amenities in railway compartments was taken up with the General Manager, Southern Railway from time to time.
The practice of public servants not disclosing their Government-supplied cellular phone numbers to the Public was taken up with the Secretary, Department of Revenue, Union of India. Information was collected under RTI Act for identifying officials in the Customs and Central Excise Department before making the representation.
The practice of the Government of India deploying a single official of the Joint Secretary rank stationed at New Delhi for attending to the Revision Applications against the orders of Commissioners of Customs & Central Excise (Appeals), in matters falling outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal (CESTAT) and the delay caused in disposing of the applications was taken up with the Finance Minister of India.
Information regarding the practice of importing spurious food items by unscrupulous importers even in collusion with Government officials was brought to the notice of the Director General of Revenue Intelligence.