Poor implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act has prompted various non-government organisations to join hands and launch an awareness drive on the piece of legislation in the city.

Starting mid-March, four mobile RTI camps will do the rounds of the city to make people aware of the provisions of the act, how to avail of them and also about certain security schemes, like widow and old-age pension.
People seeking information from government departments can hand over the application forms to the camps, which will be passed on to the official concerned.

“The act has been successfully implemented in several states, but in Bengal, it remains a non-starter,” said Sabir Ahmed, programme coordinator of Calcutta Samaritans, one of the NGOs organising the campaign.

“The government alone is not to be blamed for the failure. The people, too, are ignorant about the act. The camps will help familiarise Calcuttans with it,” he added.

The other NGOs behind the campaign are Right Track, Association for Peoples’ Initiative for Liberation, Action Aid India International, Griha Adhikar Mancha and the Right to Information Network.

The camps, to be held round the year, will bring together representatives of civil society organisations, various people’s movements and the media on a platform to discuss problems related to the enforcement of the act.

Posters, leaflets, handbooks and T-shirts containing basic information about the act will be distributed from the camps.

The awareness programmes to be organised in the camps will be aired on TV and radio. An RTI helpline will be set up to answer queries from people living in distant areas.

Asked how the campaign could change the RTI scenario, state information commissioner Arun Bhattacharyya said: “The main responsibility for implementing the act lies with the government.”

The Telegraph - Calcutta : Metro

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