Information panel puts off cyber drive
This is a discussion on Information panel puts off cyber drive within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; Reported by Ajanta Chakraborty in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Jul 24, 2012 Information panel puts off cyber drive - The Times of India KOLKATA: A computerization programme for the state information commission ...
- 07-24-2012, 07:27 AM #1
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Information panel puts off cyber drive
Reported by Ajanta Chakraborty in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Jul 24, 2012
Information panel puts off cyber drive - The Times of India
KOLKATA: A computerization programme for the state information commission has been abandoned midway for want of central funds.
Sources said the department of personnel and training (DoPT), which is looked after by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has stopped releasing funds since the commission failed to provide utilization certificates.
The Bengal government has set up the state information commission on December 12, 2005 under the central
Right to Information Act, 2005. Even after seven years, the commission has not thought it fit to complete the computerization of its records, a norm mentioned in the act itself. Amid complaints from the public that their valuable time is wasted over RTI applications, the central information commission recently wrote to the state reminding it to conduct a status check on the implementation of the RTI Act.
The computerization programme and digitization of records would have made information accessible to RTI applicants, as well as the public authorities. While it is the right of every citizen to be able to access information, it is the duty of the commission to proactively make available key information to all stakeholders.
A click on the commission's website (www.wbic.gov.in) would make things clear. The website hasn't been updated in last three years. It has information on complaints received or disposed only up to March 2009. Similarly, appeals received or disposed only till May, 2009, have been uploaded.
TOI spoke to a number of complainants and RTI applicants, who had vouched for the harassment meted out to them because the records they keep submitting to the commission are not reflected in the files. "We are asked to provide information again and again," said an applicant. The computerization programme could have fast-tracked disposal of RTI applications, besides bringing in the much-needed transparency.
Year-wise data for 2009, 2010 and 2011, related to the receipt of appeals and complaints received and disposed of, are not available on the website. Even the commission's annual report for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 have not been submitted to the government for assembly presentation., so that they could be tabled in the assembly.
When contacted, state chief information commissioner (CIC) Sujit Sarkar first insisted that the computerization programme was almost complete. "There is some confusion over utilization of Rs 2.5 lakh. We have sent the certificate to the Centre again." The CIC, later, called on to clarify: "I have checked with my officials and found that what I had said earlier is partially correct. The computerization is underway and we are working towards its early completion."
An important component of the computerization programme is training of staff and Sarkar could not give the timeline for that. as to by what time this training would be over.
The RTI Act includes right to inspect work and even takes samples of materials to determine the quality of work. "All RTI files and file-notings are supposed to be computerized and duly catalogued. This is the only way to reduce the load of RTI applications. Only those containing sensitive subjects are exempted under the RTI Act and should not be put on the web," said a member of an NGO that specializes on RTI.
Sources said the commission still keeps its files in storerooms and the process of computerization is far from over even as Section 4 (1) of the RTI Act says that records should be computerized "within a reasonable time".