PANAJI: With a number of the recently tarred major roads in the state in a pathetic condition post the monsoon, a seminar titled 'How to file RTI applications to improve our roads' sought to enable people to rectify this.
"Roads are the biggest scam in India...bigger than the 2G scam," said The International Centre Goa (ICG) director Nandini Sahai. Elucidating, Sahai said as both state and central governments are involved in road works, the amount of money going into road building was huge. She said it was imperative to check which contractor was executing a particular road, what was the cost involved, how long the road would last, etc.
The RTI for good governance seminar organized by the RTI Forum Goa and ICG at ICG, Dona Paula, was addressed by officials from the public works department as well as the RTO.
Sahai said the contractors do not even remove the previous layer of tar before laying a fresh layer and hence the next monsoon, the road peels off. "I am absolutely appalled at the condition of the roads, the streetlights," she concluded.
IAC member Satish Sonak said, "As per Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005, all the records of the department have to be computerized and put on the website." He lamented that most of the websites of government departments were not implementing this. He added that if the websites were updated with the requisite information, people would not need to file RTI applications for the same information, saving time and additional paperwork for the department staff in the process.
Section 4 (1) (a) of the RTI Act 2005 states that "every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerized are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerized and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated".
Sonak said departments were using the loopholes of 'reasonable time' and 'availability of resources' in the rule. He said the reasonable time has not been defined and this needs to be done and also a separate resources budgetary allocation to each department should be made for the purpose.
He said the state information commissioner has the power to ensure that Section 4 of the act is implemented but was not doing so. He also urged people not to wait with information obtained under RTI but use it for the benefit of the society.
Sonak felt that while all the people cannot became MLAs or MPs, they can utilize the RTI which he said is a powerful weapon. Yogesh Kambli whose documentary was screened at the seminar said people should make government departments accountable through RTI.