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Monday, 31 October 2011

Khanduri cabinet clears way for tough Lokayukta

In the hill state of Uttarakhand, the newly appointed chief minister, Major General (retd) Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri is gearing up to subject himself and all ministers to perhaps the most stringent Lokayukta in the country.

The state cabinet cleared the new Lokayukta Bill on Saturday and an emergency session of the Uttarakhand assembly has been convened on October 31 and November 1 to pass the Bill.

With the unstated purpose of air- brushing the BJP's image, soiled by his predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who left a trail of scams in his wake, the new CM has set out to constitute a strong Lokayukta on the lines of Anna Hazare's Lokpal Bill.

Uttarakhand already has a Lokayukta but it is stripped of any real powers.

The new Bill proposes to bring all public servants, irrespective of their rank/ position, within the ambit of the Lokayukta. This is in line with the Lokpal Bill floated by Team Anna. The central government version of the bill covers only Group A officers.

According to the draft approved by the state cabinet, the chief minister will be within the ambit of the Lokayukta. This is in line with the Lokpal Bill, which seeks to bring the Prime Minister within the Lokpal's ambit. The central government bill has kept the Prime Minister outside the Lokpal's purview.

To provide for a strong watchdog, Khanduri held negotiations with Hazare's team early this month and is now ready with a Bill that includes the chief minister and his office under its purview.

The Bill cleared by the cabinet also includes the lower bureaucracy, a provision strongly contested by the central government in its negotiations with the Hazare team.

Khanduri has also given the go-ahead for the implementation of a citizen's charter in the hill state. Now, it is possible to obtain a ration card within 10 days, cast certificate in 15 days and learner's driving license in five days in Uttarakhand.

A notification to this effect was issued in Dehradun on Friday. Ten departments have been selected for the citizen's charter. These departments will provide time- bound service to citizens.

Food and civil supply, health and family welfare, water supply, school education, transportation, revenue, home, housing, etc. are all now under the citizen's charter.

"Now, the common man won't have to make repeated rounds of government offices. The public can obtain service within a time frame. This will also bring greater transparency in the functioning of the government," Khanduri said.


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