Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Rajasthan villagers use RTI to end woes

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 6, 2006

Rajasthan villagers use RTI to end woes

Rajan Mahan

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 (Bikaner):

Residents of a village in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district have joined hands to put an end to the practice of selling grains from ration shops in the black market by using the Right to Information.

Revat Ram and his friends used the Act to get all records of their ration shop in Himmatsar village and exposed how grains meant for the poor were being black-marketed at a ration shop in Bikaner.

After the move, the villagers got the dealer removed.

”They threatened us and also offered money. But we refused, because we wanted to ensure that people in our village get the grains they deserve from the government. And we did not get scared in fighting for the rights of our people,” said Revat Ram, Secretary, Jagruk Yuvak Manch.

Pay compensation

Besides losing dealership, the ration shopkeeper was also forced to pay poor families in the village over Rs four lakh, the cash equivalent of the grains he had sold illegally.

Revat Ram and his friends used the Act to get all records of their ration shop in Himmatsar village and by exposing how grains meant for the poor were being black-marketed at a ration shop in Bikaner district.

After the move the villagers got the dealer removed.

”Earlier we used to be afraid that if we speak against the Sarpanch, he will not give us jobs under drought relief. But now we feel bolder and think that through the new law we can put an end to his frauds,” said a local resident.

And now it seems people across Rajasthan are keen to use their information rights. Bunglings have led to 15 sarpanches being removed and a dozen officials suspended.

Fake muster rolls

Frauds confirmed through the Information Act have shown that in Panchayats across the state fake muster rolls are rampant.

Many schools and health centres exist only on paper as funds meant for the poor are diverted to the powerful in most villages.

“People need to fight together to get information. They need to realise that this is a crucial right and must fight united to get information which is now our legal right,” said Chetan Ram, Co-ordinator, Urmal Jyoti.

It was a grassroots mobilisation in rural Rajasthan, which inspired the Right to Information movement in the entire country.

But despite being compulsory under the Central Act, Information officers have not been designated in most departments.

Government offices in the district do not even have signboards on how to use the Right to Information.
 

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