As reported by Punjab Newsline Network on on 03 April 2008: - Punjab-based man comes to rescue of rural populace

Punjab-based man comes to rescue of rural populace

BHOPAL: Moved by a programme, aired by a news channel, depicting the plight of villagers residing in small hamlets, hardly 20-30 km from the State capital, a man from Mohali in Punjab has come for the rescue of the rural populace.

Empathising with their problems, he immediately sought information from the State Government under Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI).

The Government's apathy has eventually made the man to appeal before the State Information Commission (SIC). The SIC though has directed the Punjab resident to complete formalities necessary for filing a second appeal, but the sensibility has already created unrest among the Government officials, as it is sure to bring into public eye the disparity between the urban and rural development in the State.

The samaritan, HB Malhotra, resident of House Number 569, Phase II, SAS Nagar, Mohali, Punjab, watched villagers balancing themselves on an iron bar laid across a seasonal river using a suspended rope and questioned the State Government as to why connectivity was not ensured to the poor people including women and children.

Inspired with the programme aired on September 16, 2006, Malhotra sought information from the Secretary Public Works Department (PWD) B&R, Government of Madhya Pradesh on October 16, 2006. The State Government on November 2, 2006 then directed Chief Engineer (CE) PWD to furnish the information.

However, when the applicant wrote a letter dated December 11, 2006 to the Chief Engineer requesting expediting the reply, the officer did not receive any response. He again wrote to the Secretary MP PWD, which in turn directed the Chief Engineer on January 19, 2007 to provide the requisite details.

After the department concerned failed to furnish details, Malhotra moved the SIC by filing an appeal on March 1, 2007. The Commission in turn instructed the applicant to file a first appeal as per procedures before the Appellate Officer (AO) and approach the SIC again in case the AO did not entertain him.

The man exercised the option but efforts proved futile leading him to knock the doors of the Commission by filing a second appeal on November 5, 2007.

His queries though have not resulted into any information, as the SIC has reportedly asked the samaritan to complete formalities but sources claimed that the reported awareness has already sent the administrative officers hurrying for cover.

Delay in disseminating desired information may even fine responsible officials as the SIC is all set to commence the hearing following response from the appellant.