Maharashtra: Mining for hard-to-get information
As reported by Tanaji Khot in timesofindia.com on 05 Sep 2011:
Mining for hard-to-get information
State Information Commissioner warns district administration to update information on mining, calling unavailability of records for public a ‘grave concern’
State Information Commissioner Vijay Kuvalekar has warned the district administration to update all information regarding mining in the district and to make it available to the public.
In his warning, Kuvalekar has asked the administration to furnish the updated information before September 25, failing which, they would face penalties under Section 20 of the RTI Act.
Kuvalekar observed, “This is regarding transparency in public administration. Ideally, the administration should voluntarily put all this information on a website. If not that, it should atleast be available to citizens whenever they demand for it. But it hasn’t happened even after filing an application, which is a matter of grave concern.”
It all started when RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar filed an application seeking details of the minor mineral mining in Pune.
The department’s response to Kumbhar’s application suggests a dire neglect by the state government towards this area, resulting in tardily updated records of the same.
Kumbhar said, “Initially, I sought an inspection of their records under Section 4 of the RTI Act. Since I haven’t received any information, I filed an application stating the insufficiency of information supplied by the administration.”
It was then that Kumbhar appealed to the State Information Commission seeking immediate action.
District mining officer Sanjay Bamane, in his submission before the commission, stated, “The administration furnished whatever details it had on long term mining auctions on the computer database. I am the only officer for all of Pune. We sought information from other officers, but have had no response.”
Bamane also informed that the District Collector had ordered the administration to undertake a survey of mining data, in a special drive from June 30 to July 5. The survey was to keep a check on mining activities.