With the state government apathetic about implementing the Right To Information (RTI) Act, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come forward to launch a RTI helpline.

This is the first time Bengal will have a forum to attend to the common man’s queries related to the act. In contrast with the state, the governments of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have their own RTI helplines.

The Calcutta Samaritans, a city-based NGO, has teamed up with Association for Peoples’ Initiative for Liberation, Right Track, Action Aid India International and Griha Adhikar Mancha to set up the helpline. Fifty trained volunteers of the NGOs will run it.

“People can call up and register their queries, which will then be forwarded to the government departments concerned. We will save callers the trouble of following up on the queries. We will get back to them with the response from the government,” said Sabir Ahmed, programme co-ordinator of The Calcutta Samaritans.

The helpline will also guide people on filling up application forms and obtaining pension. For the time being, the helpline will remain open for eight hours. The NGOs plan to make it a 24-hour helpline in the near future.

When told about the endeavour of the NGOs, state information commissioner Arun Bhattacharyya said: “It is good that the NGOs have made this possible. As far as the government is concerned, we will first have to make sure that the vacant posts are filled up. Only then can we move on and think about a state-wide helpline.”

The Telegraph - Calcutta : Metro

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