An RTI filed in 2015 revealed that the Telangana government had no proper information of the beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF), which according to the state government had benefitted over 1.2 lakh families. In April this year, Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao had tweeted that about Rs 800 crore was disbursed to around 1.2 lakh families under CMRF between 2015-18, as reported by The News Minute.
Hyderabad-based Vijay Gopal, who had filed the RTI then moved the Hyderabad High Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking for proper accounting and recording of the CMRF. However, even after a month of filing the PIL, the HC is yet to take it up.
Information of the beneficiaries
CMRF can be availed by “poorest of poor” who are facing distress due to health problems requiring expensive treatment, those who have lost their kin or lost their properties in natural calamities.
As per rules, those availing the benefit under this scheme are required to furnish details of their ration card, contact number and contact number of the hospital where he/she is getting treatment.
However, the response to the RTI filed by president of Forum Against Corruption, Vijay Gopal shows that these rules were allegedly not followed completely. According to the 700-page response to the RTI, between June 2014 and August 2015, the Revenue Department of the state cleared about 12,462 cheques worth Rs 84.94 crore. However, details of beneficiaries were recorded only for 182 cheques amounting to Rs 1.69 crore.
Dodgy reasons for fund release
Gopal said that the RTI also showed that several beneficiaries were given loans for “dodgy reasons”. As he puts in his Facebook post, “ A CMRF registration, 2656/CMRF/2014, has a reason that the person drowned while taking part in Ganesh Immersion at Angel Huck, San Francisco in the USA. CMRF of Rs 1 lakh was given to Polasani Sravan’s kin. The recommendation to provide the family with CMRF came from Etela Rajender, Telangana’s finance minister.”
The RTI also revealed that people with different names but same registration have been given fund. In some cases, a person has managed availing multiple funds just by switching first and last name and in some cases cheques are deposited in the name of the hospital and not the beneficiary.
PIL yet to be taken up by court
Gopal filed another RTI in 2016 seeking more information on the beneficiaries, however, the application was rejected saying that this detail was the personal information of the beneficiary and that it did not come under the purview of RTI.
Undeterred, Gopal then approached the Lokayukta after which he got a response from the state government that the discrepancies were being investigated by the Crime Investigation Department.
A month back, he moved Hyderabad HC with a PIL for proper accounting of CMRF beneficiaries, however, the court is yet to take it up.
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