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RTI INFORMATION AWARENESS: APPLICATIONS, INQUIRIES FROM RESIDENTS ON OPENING DAY OF 15-DAY CAMP AT MODEL TOWN EXTN MARKET

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 2, 2006

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

INFORMATION AWARENESS: APPLICATIONS, INQUIRIES FROM RESIDENTS ON OPENING DAY OF 15-DAY CAMP AT MODEL TOWN EXTN MARKET

The camp is the result of an initiative of six city youths, joined in the movement by 10 volunteers and a company called Resurgence India.

The idea, as is explicit by now, is to tell the masses that they can seek clarification about any issue — public or personal, so long as it’s in the public domain — from public authorities.

According to Jaskirat Singh, who is heading the RTI awareness campaign, people today came armed with curiosity, questions and, also, seeking help about filing applications under the RTI Act.

“Sixteen persons came to get their complaints written, for they faced problems with the application and were out of wits on how to go about it,” Jaskirat told Newsline. “Apart from them, five more persons came to clarify whether their complaints were put down correctly in the applications.

“We expect more people with more questions over the next fortnight.”

And the departments from which clarifications were sought today are as divergent as the 13 complainants at the camp today. Here, sample these: police, Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), Registrar of Companies-Jalandhar, Director of Public Instructions (DPI)-colleges (Chandigarh), courts, Electricity board, and Education, Revenue and Health departments.

One Raj Ram, a resident of Kishore Nagar, said arriving at the RTI camp he was “utterly confused” on how to get complaints about his inflated electricity bills reach the concerned authorities. “I got them corrected on more than one occasion but I still get incorrect bills.” He added that despite depositing the correct amount at Sukhmani Centre, PSEB adds up the previous amount as unpaid dues and serves him an inflated bill on every occasion.

“We helped him write a complaint to the Electricity board,” Jaskirat said. “The application asked for information about where the money deposited at Sukhmani Centre — which is a single window deposit centre — goes if it is added in the next bill.”

Another complainant, Ranjit Singh Grewal, who lives in the Dugri area, said he shot off queries to LIT: “I had deposited Rs 1,500 with the Improvement Trust way back in 1979 to book a plot. But till date I have not received the status of allotment despite repeated visits to their office.”

Similarly, Satish Sood from New Madhopuri said his company’s trademark is being used illegally by another concern but despite his FIR at Madhopuri Police Station the cops are yet to report to him the case’s status “despite repeated follow-ups”. So, “I am trying to get this information through RTI now.”

Interestingly, one Avtaar Singh Dev told an interesting RTI success story: “PSEB disconnected electric connection at my company — GC Steels Private Limited, before it became Shivraj Wires —repeatedly. They also made me pay Rs 32 lakh as minimum maintenance charge for 18 months for the period between October 1998 and May 2000. My unit remained closed during this period…I had to sell it off to settle the bills.

“Later, I used the RTI and asked PSEB to provide me with rules of billing. And after the bills were calculated I have now filed a case against PSEB in High Court. I have claimed losses worth Rs 8 crore as they had wrongly calculated my bills. And this was only possible due to the RTI Act.”

Besides Jaskirat the others who helped the flow of information at the camp were Mukhpreeti Kaur, Daljeet Singh, Harpreet Singh, Amanjot Singh, Navdeep Kaur, Anthony and Lajwinder Kaur.

Ten other volunteers will join them in the coming days on rotation basis.

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