KMC in line of RTI ire
Amitava Das

KOLKATA, June 5: The civic authorities have been pulled up by the state chief information commissioner for their inability to answer queries of citizens under provisions of the Right to Information Act.

On 29 May, state chief information commissioner Mr Arun Bhattacharya reportedly asked officials of the KMC RTI Cell to explain the cause of the delay in answering citizens’ queries. Many citizens who did not get answers to their queries within the stipulated 30 days had complained to his office.

Most of the unanswered questions pertain to the jurisdiction of the building department of the KMC. Officials of the RTI Cell say they have failed to answer the questions promptly owing to the lack of cooperation from the officials of the department.

Initially, the department did not take the matter seriously though questions came pouring in, said RTI Cell officials. Out of the 250 queries submitted to the Cell, 50 pertain to the building department. Most of the queries are yet to be answered. Only 31 people have got answers till date since February.

Mr Dipankar De, member, mayor-in-council, (building) said usually they tried to reply questions promptly. “This is a large department. Sometimes, it takes time to collect answers from all wings. Building department officials at borough level are also helping in answering the queries.”

To create consciousness among the civic staff, the KMC will circulate a notification to give due importance to the Cell. “We have observed with dismay that several departments are not taking questions under RTI Act seriously. The issue is not being given due importance by some departments resulting in unnecessary delay. Sometimes incomplete information is furnished by various departments,” the note says.

Mr Pashupati Barik, state public information officer and deputy municipal commissioner (personnel) of the KMC said they normally replied questions the answers of which were known to the officials of their department.

But it gets delayed when answers from other departments are sought. “The circular will soon make officials aware of the need to promptly answer the queries. The Cell is new and we hope to become popular with residents soon,” Mr Barik said.

Civic body receives maximum number of queries on issues related to building, assessment-collection and licence departments. Under the provisions of the Act, anybody can ask the civic body questions and the civic body is bound to answer them within a month.
The taxpayer will have to pay Rs 2 to get the answers.

The Statesman