Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Statewide campaign to press implemention of RTI Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 4, 2006

Statewide campaign to press implemention of RTI Act
Madurai | July 04, 2006 8:42:38 PM IST


With a call to implement the Right to Information Act in Tamil Nadu, political outfits and civil society organisations have come together to launch a fortnight long-campaign throughout the state from July 10.

The state government was ”indifferent” even to the appointment of Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) though four months had passed since the Act came into force, organisers of the Campaign told mediapersons here.

The DMK, a constituent of the UPA government at the Centre, which brought in the Act, should take steps in earnest to implement the legislation and make it functional, they added.

Besides offering training to target groups like youth, activists and NGOs, ‘‘clinics’’ would be set up before hospitals and public offices like the collectorate to assist people to file applications under the RTI Act. More than 40 NGOs and civil society groups had joined the effort.

According to them, the Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign had the larger objective of ensuring greater transparency and accountability within the government. It was also proposed to involve the government and the State Information Commission in this task.

In their view, inordinate delay in appointing the PIOs and APIOs, procedural uncertainties coupled with inadequate infrastructure and lack of knowledge about the Act, even among the bureaucracy, defeated the very purpose of the legislation.

Two of the organiers, Mehaboob Batcha of Soco Trust, a Rights NGO, and Jeeva of SIRD, another NGO, accompanied by JD(S) State General Secretary K John Moses, said the campaign had a five-point charter of demands, which included appointment of people from diverse fields to the Central and State Information Commissions instead of packing them with retired civil servants. Translation and mass circulation of the Act in Tamil, fee reduction from Rs 50 to Rs 10 to keep it on a par with other states and the Centre and pro-active disclosure of information as per Section four of the Act were some other demands.

Narrating the difficulties in getting an application filed under the Act, A R Ayyankalai, heading a Dalit outfit, said the administration at the district level was very insensitive and lacked requisite awareness. He was made to run from pillar to post to file his application seeking information on the panchami land issue, he added.



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