Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI Act empowers Meghalaya’s population

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 2, 2006

RTI Act empowers Meghalaya’s population


 Bano Harlau

Sunday, July 2, 2006 (Shillong):

While the rest of the country has only now realised the benefits of the right to information, people in Meghalaya have been fighting for the right since 1999.

With most of their homework done over the past few years, people started grilling the government almost the minute the RTI Act came into effect.

One of their first questions was on infrastructure development work in Shillong and the implementation of the midday meal scheme.

Prompt action

According to the government, the beautification of the police bazaar shopping centre roundabout in the heart of Shillong has cost over Rs 5 crore.

However, the people of the city were unaware about this fact until they made a request for the information as soon as Parliament passed the Right To Information Act.

Thereafter, the people found out that the Khyndai Lad project was sanctioned without either the mandatory tender process or a detailed master plan. Moreover, around 53 per cent of the total expenses are unaccounted for.

“From October 13, we started using the RTI. We wanted to find out how the government spent the amount. When we went through the papers, we found that out that 53 per cent of the money is unaccounted for,” says Tarun Bhartiya, Member, Meghalaya RTI Movement.

“It is only two days ago that the Commission has come out with details on the Khyndai Lad project”.

Although they have just begun to taste victory, people in Meghalaya have been fighting for the right to information for several years now.

Growing movement

The Meghalaya Right to Information Movement started with seven members as the Strive Forward Group in 1999.

Now there are twenty organisations that are helping people with everything from getting ration cards to re-evaluating exam papers.

“We’ve seen a lot of government enquiries and they all get swept under the carpet. After hearing about the RTI in other states and getting a copy of the GOA Act we felt that this is the only way by which the public will get the light to scams in the northeast,” says Michael Syiem, Working Committee Member, Meghalaya RTI Movement.

Among the problems of the northeast have been civilian tragedies in the battle between the armed forces and militants.

“Presently, even the armed forces as far as human rights violations and corruption cases are involved come under the act. We need to hold on to that because this is such a militarised zone,” says Angela Rangad, Member of Meghalaya RTI Movement

It is still early days for the RTI Act in the state, but if used effectively, RTI could help put good governance and development back on track in the northeast.


One Response to “RTI Act empowers Meghalaya’s population”

  1. I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced to your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for newbies. Could you please prolong them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

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