KOLKATA, June 26: At a time when the state chief minister is boasting of introducing transparency in administration, Kolkata Municipal Corporation seems to be the one organisation that is yet to benefit from the implementation of the Right to Information Act.
This is why Anandamarg has decided to write to the state urban development minister, Mr Ashok Bhattacharya, demanding stern action against the KMC’s public information officer for his indifference to queries that amounts to gross dereliction of duty.
The president of Anandamarg had written to the KMC seeking information on its role in stopping an illegal construction near its headquarters under the Right to Information Act, 2005 after the mayor, Mr Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharjee, and member, mayor in council (building), Mr Dipankar De, promised action against the builder. After failing to get a reply from KMC’s public information officer, the organisation moved the secretary, West Bengal Information Commission, in February this year.
The secretary immediately asked the civic authorities to look into the matter. Mr Pashupati Barik, KMC’s information officer, wrote a letter to Anandamarg authorities on 14 March asking them to deposit court fees worth Rs 10 alongwith an application which the organisation dispatched in a letter on 28 March.
The civic authorities sat on the file till 4 June flouting provisions of RTI Act which stipulates that the aggrieved party should be issued a reply within 30 days. On 4 June, Mr Barik wrote a letter to Anandamarg authorities asking them to deposit a further Rs 2 in the treasury counter. The court fee payment had apparently been unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, the illegal building is nearing completion. Senior officers of KMC’s building department said they could not pull down the structure as the local police station would not support the act.
In many such incidents, we often find various Statutory bodies shirking their responsibilities simply stating their helplessness in implementing correctives. What can we do as individual/body when faced with such situations? What kind of penalty provisions exist to bind the authorities to act?