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Thread: Where you have the right to ask!
Views: 1135 | 06-15-2007 #1
Where you have the right to ask!
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=articleheaderfont vAlign=bottom>Where you have the right to ask!</TD></TR><TR><TD height=5></TD></TR><!-- ~~|ByLine|ArticleContentFont|height="5px"|byline|520|10| ~~--><TR><TD class=articleagencyfont>S Lalitha </TD></TR><TR><TD height=5></TD></TR><TR><TD class=articlecontentfont></TD></TR><TR><TD height=5></TD></TR><TR><TD class=overviewfont colSpan=2>3,126 Bangaloreans believed they had a right to information on the work of a civic body, a government department or its officials and filed valid applications seeking the required information from the Right to Information (RTI) Act cell inside the premises of the BBMP.</TD></TR><TR><TD height=5></TD></TR><!-- ~~|123Dop123|ArticleContentFont|height="5px"|DoP|520|10|~~ --><TR><TD class=ArticleContentFont>
Do you believe you have the right to information on the work of a civic body, a government department or its officials? Well, at least 3,126 Bangaloreans believed they had a right to such information and filed valid applications seeking the required information from the Right to Information (RTI) Act cell inside the premises of the BBMP. Of them, 2,561 individuals have got replies.
These were the statistics as on June 12 this year, when the RTI cell completed its first birthday. Speaking to Metrolife, Channarasamma, the revenue officer of the cell, said, “We receive 50 applications on a daily basis now.”
This is in sharp contrast to the 200–300 applications per month the cell received when it was inaugurated. “The awareness level of the public regarding the RTI has increased tremendously and the transformation of the BMP to BBMP has also contributed to the surge in the number of cases,” she said.
The most sought after queries by the public are: copy of building plans, details regarding unauthorised constructions and whether assessment has been done for buildings. People are also curious to know about the assets of the BBMP officers as well as that of other government officers who come over to the Corporation to work on a temporary basis.
So, what is the procedure for RTI? Anyone who wants to gather information has to give an application on blank white paper with queries for which answers are needed. Or fill in an RTI application form available at the cell. Pay an application fee of Rs 10 or send a postal order. An RTI number and receipt is provided to the applicant. The RTI cell has to furnish the reply within a 30-day period.
The application also has columns which specifies the name of the Prinicipal Information Officer (PIO) and the appellant authority to whom the query is forwarded. If the PIO fails to furnish the required information within 30 days, the applicant can send an appeal to the appellant authority.
If the applicant is still not satisfied with the response, a second appeal can be sent to the Karnataka Mahiti Aayoga. Not all queries are simple. Some make complicated demands too. Sample these:
How many khatha transfers are going on in all wards of BBMP with details of bifurcations and amalgamations, revisions of property tax as well as all the information in files pertaining to them? How many projects are going on in the BBMP and full details of all with all the files?
Another respondent wanted to know details about a 1935 file. The BBMP does not have such a file! One person had requested for details on 50 projects and attached a form which had 17 columns for each project and he wanted information supplied in that format!
So, how does a PIO provide answers to some “unanswerable” queries? When they are unable to do so, appeals are filed against them.
A high level official on condition of anonymity provided this information: “Some PIOs end up paying money to the questioner as they are not in a position to respond to these queries. In this manner, they ensure that the applicant does not file an appeal against them to higher authorities.
Some unscrupulous people adopt this method to harass top officials.” One year has gone by. What has the been the biggest achievement, we ask.
The disposal of over 2,500 applications,” says the revenue officer, without batting an eyelid. The RTI cell functions between 10 am and 5.30 pm on all working days. You can contact the cell: 22483130.
<!--End content Section-->Deccan Herald - Where you have the right to ask!
Last edited by karira; 06-15-2007 at 12:57 PM.