Finally, MC displays proactive disclosures on its website
Ludhiana, February 25 Sustained fight by a Ludhiana-based civil society organisation Resurgence India has finally reaped positive results. On the orders of the Punjab Information Commission, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation will now display proactive disclosures under the Right to Information Act on its official website. The MC posted the disclosures on its website (Welcome to Ludhiana) last week.
Proactive disclosures include the details of functioning of organisation, powers of its officers, policy matters, rules of filing any complaint, how to take water/ sewer connection, house tax rules, who is public information officer, etc.
Though it is mandatory for every government department to display proactive disclosures on its website under Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, it took 26 months for this NGO to force the LMC prepare its disclosures.
The Resurgence India had filed an application with Public Information Officer of the LMC on December 15, 2005 seeking a copy of the 17 manuals of its proactive disclosures besides other things," said Hitendar Jain, General Secretary of the society.
According to the rules of the RTI Act, the disclosures should have been done by October 12, 2005.
" More than 50% of the RTI complaints will reduce automatically once proactive disclosures are displayed on websites. One can get most of the information from these 17-point manuals only, " said Jain.
He also added the inordinate delay in providing information speaks volumes about the functioning and management of the LMC. "Disclosures are the responsibility of the head of the public authority which is commissioner in the case of the LMC. The responsibility for the delay of almost two-and-a-half years should be fixed on all the commissioners who have occupied the post since October 12, 2005," said Jain. Meanwhile, it needs to be mentioned that after filing the complaint, on February7, 2006, the then commissioner LMC did not bother to respond. The second appeal was filed with the Punjab Information Commission on March 27, the same year. After 11 hearings, the case was finally disposed of on the assurance by the LMC that necessary disclosures would be provided by October 10, 2007.
The LMC again failed to keep its word and the NGO had to file an application for revival of the closed appeal with the commission on January 23 this year. It was only after the filing of the fresh application that the LMC has at last posted its disclosures on its website.
MC Commissioner Vikas Pratap was made to appear before the commission on November 27, 2006 for corporation's failure to provide any information. He, along with Local Government Principal Secretary DS Bains, again appeared before the commission on January 29, 2008 for failing to provide effective computerised management information systems in the Corporation and not making any disclosures.
The NGO will shortly scrutinise the disclosures made by the LMC to check these for completeness and will report to the Commission on the next date of hearing i.e March 26, 2008, said Jain.
LUDHIANA: Owing to pressure exerted by state information commission (SIC) and Right to Information (RTI) activists, municipal corporation (MC) is on its toes to upgrade its website. Following the upgradation, exhaustive information pertaining to the civic body would be a click away.
The decision relating to the website’s upgradation had been on the cards ever since state information commissioner Lt Gen (retd) PK Grover had asked MC officers to comply with norms regarding proper dissemination of information under section 4(1)-B of RTI Act and include information in preview of the act on the website. For that, MC had even constituted a sub-committee comprising joint commissioner Mahinder Pal Gupta, senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal and superintendent engineer (SE) designs DPS Wadhwa to look into the matter.
At a meeting of the committee held on Friday, it was decided that the website would be upgraded, with the main focus being on proper dissemination of information under clause 4(1)-B of the Act. At the meeting that continued for more than four hours, it was stated that the website would be divided into three parts- services, download and general information sections, which would be further divided into more than 20 sub-sections at the initial stage.
By accessing these sections, residents would be able to get information regarding services being given by the civic body, its income and expenditure, details of officers of each area and MC voter list. It was maintained that vital information regarding the budget and details of developmental work on in the city would be provided on the website.
Highly-placed sources revealed that it would take more than three months for the civic body authorities to complete the work on the website.
When contacted, Bansal said upgradation of the website would usher in a new era of information for city residents, adding that they were trying their best to complete the work soon as it would ensure transparency and accountability in working of the civic body.