VISAKHAPTNAM: "Information commissioners in every State should take a neutral stand for the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act. In majority of the States, they have a biased approach," noted Magsaysay awardee and social activist Sandeep Pandey at a meeting organised by the United Forum for RTI Campaign - AP, on Tuesday.
He was here as part of the Statewide campaign launched by the forum to create awareness among a cross section of people on the RTI Act.
The social activist opined that though the Act was implemented from October 13, 2005, the government officers, especially in the mandal level, have not seriously implemented it.
"The scrapping of the seven draconian amendments proposed by the Government makes the Act most powerful in the world. The Act deepens the democratic spirit and people should take up the campaign openly for its effective implementation," he said.
Feign ignorance

The Magsaysay awardee noted that Government officers are not serious about the Act and in most places he has found that the officers pretend to be ignorant. "There are no boards displaying the PIO (Public Information Officer) and the officers do not accept the fee of Rs.10 in cash from BPL (below poverty line) sector and insist on challans which is strictly against the spirit of the Act," he said.
Quoting a recent incident during his tour to Kakinada, he informed that the RDO concerned had stated to an applicant who queried about SEZs in the region, that he had no information on one hand despite being the nodal officer and on the other hand and that he had suggested that the answers would cost over Rs.1 lakh for the amount of information the applicant had asked for.
Giving details on the campaign, he said that the main idea is to see that PIOs are identified and nominated and the process of receiving and processing applications are made smooth. "Despite all the hiccups, the act is revolutionary and it is in the process of breaking the bureaucrat- politician nexus, especially after scraping of the `file noting' amendment. The act will force officers to be accountable and it would slowly become powerful with the growing awareness, collective pressure and a few good officers will show the way," opined, Mr. Sandeep Pandey.

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