TN RTI Update 4:July 18th:Saidapet/Thiruvallur camps rock
Posted by rtiact2005 on July 19, 2006
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Date: Jul 19, 2006 9:21 AM
Subject: RTI Update 4: Saidapet/Thiruvallur camps rock
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TN RTI Update 4
18 July, 2006
Traffic eases at Main Camp; Thiruvallur/Saidapet Rocking with RTI
After the intense bustle at the main camp in Triplicane, Chennai, over the last few days, things were relatively quieter. While the number of people walking in for consultations remained roughly the same as before – about 30 – the number of walk-ins who came in for training was only 50 today. The helpline, and another personal number (which had mistakenly been given out by a Tamil daily) rang incessantly with callers from around the State wanting to get advice on writing letters or making payments for RTI applications. Till date, we have received close to 500 phone calls for assistance.
The relative calm at the main camp was more than adequately compensated for by what organizers characterize as “very successful” and “really busy” camps at Saidapet in the heart of Chennai, and Thiruvallur town (district headquarters North of Chennai).
The Thiruvallur camp was organized by Women Workers Union, a trade union that is a member of the Tamilnadu Right to Information Campaign. Sujata Mody, who called in with the update, was buoyed by the success of the camp. All important local functionaries, including the Municipal Commissioner Mr. T. Raj Kumar, local DMK officials, the SC/ST District Secretary and local councilors attended the camp. More than 130 applications were filed, mostly by Below Poverty Line people. Most of the applications had to do with pending ration card applications, land disputes, and the shoddy treatment at Government Hospitals. The positive fallouts of engaging in the Right to Information campaign go beyond what the law prescribes, says Mody. According to her, “The law has allowed trade unions to wake up to new responsibilities that they would not have earlier dealt with. In learning to apply the law, our union has emerged with its own leadership and is addressing issues very relevant to our membership that we wouldn’t have been able to address in the past.” The Right to Information Act fits in very well with the mandate of the union, it appears.
The Saidapet camp was organized by Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, another key member of the Tamilnadu Right to Information Campaign. The camp was held outside the Panagal Buildings in Saidapet, a key location where a number of State Government directorates are housed. Like the Thiruvallur camp, public response to the camp at Saidapet was overwhelming. Six volunteers seated behind a table were literally mobbed by people with grievances. Ration card applications again topped the charts. It appears that the Civil Supplies Department is the most unpopular and unresponsive department in the State. According to Johny, one of the volunteers, the six volunteers behind the desk did not have a moment’s rest during the four hours they spent assisting people file Right to Information requests.