As reported on 21 October 2008:
The Hindu : Andhra Pradesh / Vijayawada News : Rural people’s awareness of RTI Act raised, says Arha

Rural people’s awareness of RTI Act raised, says Arha

Commission here to review implementation
‘Fee for application should be accepted in cash’

VIJAYAWADA: Expressing satisfaction over cooperation from all quarters for the implementation of Right To Information (RTI) Act, Andhra Pradesh Chief Information Commissioner C.D. Arha on Monday said rural people had made an increased use of the Act, if statistics of the last two years were taken into consideration.

Briefing presspersons after a review of the Act with the officials of Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari and West Godavari districts here, Mr. Arha pointed out that the number of applicants from rural areas under the RTI had come to 32 per cent of the total number of applications received during 2006-07, while it was just 11 per cent during the previous year. The highest response was from Hyderabad, followed by Prakasam, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Guntur districts, he informed.

Mr. Arha said that the geographical spread of people seeking information under the RTI Act was 43.48 per cent in coastal Andhra, 42.47 per cent in Telangana and only 14.05 per cent in Rayalaseema region. He pointed out that through periodical reviews, the Andhra Pradesh Information Commission was aiming at getting cooperation from all the concerned for better implementation of the Act.

The full commission, comprising Mr. Arha and Information Commissioners R. Dileep Reddy, Ambati Subba Rao and K. Sudhakara Rao, was here to review the implementation of the Act in the four districts. District collectors, superintendents of police, Vijayawada police commissioner and several other officials of the four districts were present.

Mr. Dileep Reddy observed that most of the applications received under the Act related to revenue, education, panchayat raj, municipal administration and such departments, which had a regular public contact. He clarified that there was no provision in the Act that prohibits giving information on the grounds that the relevant subject was pending in a court of law. But if the court wanted the information relating to a particular subject not to be shared, the official concerned could follow the court’s orders in that respect.

Mr. Dileep Reddy also pointed out that government departments should accept the fee for the application in cash also.