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Mr. Vijay Kumbhar
As a journalist, in my career I was involved in movements, which can truly be called as the first of its kind. They involved taking the civic authorities to task for the various deeds of mismanagement and corruption which have become synonymous with the various governments authorities including pune Municipal Corporation. With extensive usage of the Right to Information (RTI) and proactively going for file inspection at different government offices, I have brought to light many of the unholy deeds of the civic authorities. Taking course of PIL's I have often compelled the civic authorities to roll back many of the largesse’s that it had allowed its political members.

My foray in to journalism began in the year 1989, when I wrote an article highlighting the problems faced by the hotel workers and had sent it to the weekly ‘Swaraj’. M .S. Sathe, the editor of the same, appreciated the article and insisted that I take up writing on such issues. Since then, I started pro actively working for many local dailies and had regular columns in papers like ‘Maharashtra Herald’, ‘Tarun Bharat’, ‘Sandhya’, ‘Aaj Ka Anand’, and ‘Poona Digest’ and also for the fortnightly ‘Manohar’.

In the year 1998, the local newspapers had carried a news of how a plot of land was de-reserved for the benefit of a private builder Girish Vyas, son-in-law of the then Chief Minister Manohar Joshi. Even though the press was reporting about the matter, diligently, the Government and the opposition was keeping mum about the whole issue. I filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court about the whole matter, that very month. My plea came up for hearing in the month of March next year. Justices BN Shrikrishna and SS Parkar hearing my plea gave a verdict in my favor. While giving the verdict, the honorable justices did point to the fact that the Chief Minister had misused his powers to get the land de-reserved., and ordered to demolish the buildings in question at present the case has gone to the Apex Court for hearing. During the time of this court case, I received many death threats and money was also offered to me to withdraw the case. But it was my conscious and my moral values helped me to keep up the struggle and push for the cause of justice.

In year 2001 I noticed that many public properties are being given on long lease without inviting tenders to high profile personalities, politicians and corporators. It came to my notice that a sports complex built by PMC was given on lease to the then chairman of a NGO headed by the then chairman of the standing committee. To redress the matter, I filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court. The honorable court gave a ruling that PMC must invite tenders before giving any property on lease to any body. The bench also quashed the lease given to the aforementioned NGO.

In the year 2002, came the RTI Act. Realizing the importance of this Act, I started using this to unearth various scams and gather information from the various government offices. In the same year, I asked from PMC, the details of the properties it has leased out to the various trusts and ‘so-called’ NGOs. My query created a storm in the civic body, when they realized that the information that I had asked would bring to light the culture of largess it follows. My query made the PMC take up steps to gather information about such leases. At first the PMC gave the information that 1100 properties were given on lease. My repeated notices to the PMC and queries brought to light how more than 8000 such leases and properties are given out on lease. In fact it was my query which made the PMC realize the exact amount of its properties given out on lease by it to various bodies and trusts. Most of the beneficiaries, needless to say were political leaders and their relatives. After compilation of such data, the PMC have decided to issue eviction notices to more 5000 of such properties. This can be called as the first time in the country when, at the behest of a common man, the civic body has taken cognizance of its lack of records and it was also the first time, that a common man had compelled the civic body to take back its largess. This culture of giving property on lease on the basis of political nepotism is not just restricted to Pune. It is a nationwide phenomenon and I intend to embark on a major campaign to rectify it. Now as per H'ble high courts decision PMC has formulated a rules and regulations to lease out its properties. It was a long five years struggle for me to compel PMC to frame proper rules and regulations.

In the year 1992, a small news item in a certain section of the press reported of finding insects in the packages of chocolates. Realizing the gravity of the news, I carried out extensive investigations and published a detailed report in ‘Swaraj’. This article was highly appreciated by ‘Grahak Panchayat’ who had that article translated in to different languages and had it propagated through out the length and breadth of the country. They used that article to inform and alert the public about the health hazardous associated with that brand of chocolate.

My detailed story on the misbehavior and immoral liaison between the Speaker of Goa’s State Legislature and a female worker evoked warm response from the public. I was instrumental in calling the bluff of the so called ‘medium’ Sangeeta Abhyankar. Working with Vijay Lele, the editor of Poona Digest I managed to expose how the lady was nothing more than a charlatan.

When Intelligent Women’s Club had taken up the issue of scarcity of women’s urinals, I had invoked RTI to understand the state of urinals in the city. My investigations proved that in Pune we have one urinal per 9100 people. I send a notice to the PMC regarding the sorry state of affairs, I asked them to construct more urinals. In response the PMC, in its budget for this year, has earmarked Rs 60 lakhs for the construction of new urinals both for men and women. We have demanded that PMC constructs both ladies and gents urinals at every bus stops and there be at least one urinal per 100 people.

The most recent of my exposes was the way the Education Board had awarded the contracts for the uniforms, shoes and books and other school items. When I went for file inspection at the Education Board, I found out that the way the contracts were given was completely fraudulent and illegal. My notice to the PMC about this misdeed created quite a ripple amongst the politicians and the civic authorities. Municipal Commissioner ordered for an enquiry about the whole way the tender process was floated. More over, he gave an order canceling the whole process and the officer in charge of the Education Board and chief education officer has been issued show cause notice.

My fight against corruption made me realize that even after 62 years of independence (Swaraj) we are far away from the utopian dream of good governance (Surajya). The need of the hour is a band of strong and spirited individuals who have the guts to take the government to task for its inefficiency and corruption. As a step towards this I have formed an organization called “Surajya Sangharsh Samiti’ to function as an umbrella body for people who want to fight against corruption. This organization also supports others who have similar motives. For me, my fight against corruption is an ongoing process and it is to continue for long.

Surajya Sangharsha Samiti,
A-6, Anupama Co OP Hsg Soc,
Body Gate, Aundh, Pune _ 411007
Tel - 9923299199
Email - kvijay14@gmail.com

  • Succesfuly organized National seminar of 148 RTI activists from 28 states including Aruna Roy,Anna Hazare,Arvind Kejariwal,Medha patkar.
  • Participated in the Nationwide Antibribery Campaign
  • Lectures and workshops on RTI - more than 350