Denial to provide information under Right To Information Act landed senior Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) officials in to serious trouble when the state information commissioner slapped fine on them.

The state information commissioner Suresh Joshi slapped a fine of Rs 8,334 each on city engineer KD Lala, executive engineer Manohar Hirlekar and deputy engineer Ravindra Shinde for not providing information sought under the RTI by Congress party worker, Subhash Thombre.

The matter pertains to a public toilet near Siddhivinayak Temple, Jambhli Naka, which was systematically closed and then demolished to construct shops on the plot. Thombre alleged that some of the TMC officials in connivance with a private contractor systematically closed the 70-year-old toilet and demolished it in 1996. However, it was reconstructed and opened for public after Thombre raised voice against it and started a public movement. The toilet was reopened for public on May 10, 2004.

TMC spent Rs 40,000 on construction while, Thombre had spent Rs 15,000 on plumbing work for water supply arrangements there.

Surprisingly, TMC started demolition of the toilet on September 1, 2005. Thombre lodged a police complaint regarding the matter on the same day when the contractor failed to give satisfactory information regarding the demolition. Getting wind of the complaint and anticipating further action, deputy engineer Ravindra Shinde lodged counter complaint against Thombre for obstructing government work. However, the complaint was withdrawn on September 2, 2005 when found to be false.

Thombre filed an application under RTI with the then information officer KD Lala seeking all the documents about the construction. When the TMC officials did not provide any information within stipulated time of 30 days, Thombre filed the application with first appellate officer, TMC Commissioner. He was not even given hearing, leave alone giving information sought. When he failed to get information, Thombre filed second application with the state information commissioner in June 2004.

The application came to hearing on October 22, this year. The state information commissioner during the hearing took Lala and other officers to task for not providing the information sought and ordered to give it immediately. The information commissioner also slapped a collective fine of Rs 25,000 on the three officers.TMC officials failed to provide information within 30 days under the RTI

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