RTI, going rural
NEW DELHI: Having woven many a success story in cities, the Right to Information Act (RTI), which completes two years of coming in the statute books in October is reaching the rural areas too with villages using its provisions to redress their grievances.
Sidhakahna Jot Keshav village in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh is one such example. Five inspired residents of the village filed RTI applications and questioned the district administration about the conditions of the village roads and drains. They also raised questions as why there were no allotments under the 'Indira Awaas Yojna'.
The administration immediately acted and the construction of the roads and drains began in the village. Since then, 32 villagers have been allotted the houses under the 'Indira Awaas Yojna' and the administration has displayed a list on the village wall, containing the names of the villagers eligible for the allotments under the scheme.
RTI activist and Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal says that the RTI is the way to empowering villages, "The very movement started from the rural Rajasthan. RTI is like a life line to the rural India. The Act has shown a great potential to transform the life of rural society."
He however admits that there are some hurdles, "The true potential of RTI is still to be explored, specially in the rural India where villagers find it very cumbersome to file RTI applications. The procedure should be simplified and made people friendly."
Kejriwal cites the example of Bihar, "Bihar has set a great example by creating a dedicated phone line for RTI. Where RTI can be filed through a phone call. Even an illiterate villager can file his RTI application by a call."