Bhubaneswar(Mar. 13, 2007): After failing to make the non-government organisations directly accountable to it, Orissa Government has brought the NGOs operating in the State under the purview of the Right to Information Act in order to make them answerable to the people at large.
In a press note released to the media on Monday, the State Government said that it had framed the Right to Information rules prescribing certain procedures, forms and fees for the purpose.
Stating that Section 2 (h) (d) (ii) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 defined an NGO as `public authority' if it is substantially financed directly or indirectly by Central or State Government, the State Government said that as a public authority an Ngo was required to disclose on its own the information pertaining to the organisation for information of the general public, as required under Section 4 of the Act.
The government announcement comes close on the heels of NGOs seeking information on implementation of various government programmes through the Information Commission set up under the RTI Act. There has been a spurt in the number of applications seeking information under the provisions of the RTI Act in the recent months.
The press note issued by the Planning and Coordination Department said that the NGOs as public authority has to designate a Public Information Officer, Assistant Information Officer and an Appellate Authority.
Although a majority of NGOs were likely to oppose the government announcement, an NGO activist welcomed the official move. `When NGOs were trying to make the government accountable to the public, the NGOs utilising public money either through donations or grant should also be accountable to the people.'
A senior NGO activist running the affairs of a leading Bhubaneswar-based voluntary organisation was, however, critical of the government action. `While making this announcement that NGOs should designate officers for discharging duties under the provision of the RTI Act, the government should also make the corporate houses running charitable organisations accountable to the public,' she said.
`The NGOs will be badly hit while making budgetary provisions for the officials designated as Public Information Officer, Assistant Public Information Officer and Appellate Authority. The government should clarify the position in this regard,' she said.
I believe on principal NGO should welcome this move. Otherwise it will not but a hypocracy on their part.
On one hand one expect public institution to disclose all information and the organization working for the welfare of the public do not disclose the information