The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which has faced staunch opposition from citizen groups and political parties against its decision to construct a butterfly park inside the premises of the Kamatibaug garden, has now landed itself into trouble with an incorrect reply under the RTI Act.
In an RTI reply to a citizen, the Parks and Gardens department has said that the cost of the butterfly park is Rs 6.38 lakh. In reality, the corporation has issued the work order of the project for approximately Rs 7 crore.
The RTI reply has left applicant Pankaj Darve shocked. Darve had sought information regarding the details of the project, including its cost, the consultation sought and the study conducted by the VMC before arriving at a conclusion that the construction of a park is feasible and sustainable in the city of Vadodara.
Darve said, “The department failed to provide me with the relevant answers to the details of the feasibility survey conducted by them before deciding to spend the tax payers money. What is even more shocking is that they sent me a figure of Rs 6.38 lakh, written in clear words, as the cost of the project in their official reply while they have been publicizing the ambitious project to be close to Rs 7 crore.”
He said that the RTI reply stated that the department was unable to answer his questions regarding feasibility survey and expert consultations and invited him “for a discussion” about it. In his meeting with the department officials on Friday, Darve said, no answers were provided.
“The officer did not provide any satisfactory reply to my query including the cost. I was told that the reply was given as per the records. I am now moving an appeal against the officers for providing me with a misleading, incorrect information contrary to their public claims. This reply makes it clear that the project is ridden with corruption and lacks transparent records,” Darve added. When contacted, VMC officials went into damage control mode, blaming “human error” for the mistake in their official RTI reply. V R Shikhaliya, Director of Parks and Gardens department, said, “The cost is certainly Rs 7 crore and there is nothing malicious about the reply. The error has happened at the end of the clerk of the engineering department who has typed the reply to the applicant. We will rectify the error at the earliest or provide our explanation to the appellate authority if the resident decides to appeal.”
Shikaliya said that the error should not be seen as a deliberate attempt by the VMC to hide the information. “The Act requires us to provide the correct information and the error is unfortunate. But there is nothing to hide about the project. Whatever information is available with us, we have provided the same to the applicant,” Shikhaliya said.