Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

PWD rapped for violating Right to Information Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 22, 2006

PWD rapped for violating Right to Information Act

Vani Doraisamy

http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/21/stories/2006072111000100.htm

It defaulted on providing information about a proposed bridge over the Adyar

 

 


  • A fine of Rs. 250 a day for 100 days imposed
  • Public Information Officer ordered to pay fine

     

    CHENNAI: Civic activism in the State notched up its first success story under the recently passed Right to Information Act on Tuesday, with the State Information Commission directing the Chief Secretary to take action against the Public Works Department (PWD) for failing to disclose information about proposed road improvement activities in Chennai.

    Acting on a petition filed by Rajesh Rangarajan, regional coordinator, Toxics Link, the Commission found the PWD to have prima facie defaulted on providing information about a proposed bridge over the Adyar and imposed a fine of Rs. 250 a day for 100 days of default.

    Since it was constituted in January, the Commission has had very few instances of government departments stonewalling information sought by members of the public, State Information Commissioner S. Ramakrishnan told The Hindu.

    In the Adyar bridge case, Mr. Rangarajan sought information in January based on a news report. He wanted to know where the bridge was coming up, who the contractor was and whether an environmental impact assessment had been done.

    The RTI Act enjoins on the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the PWD to either furnish the information himself or redirect the petition — within five days of receipt — to the departmentconcerned. However, the PIO returned it, saying the information lay only within the purview of the Highways or Rural Works Department.

    Mr. Rangarajan approached the Information Commission, which sent a show cause notice to the PIO. With the officer still failing to respond, the appellate authority — in this case, the Deputy Secretary, PWD — was called for an enquiry. Subsequently, the Chief Secretary was instructed to conduct an enquiry and recover the fine from the PIO, who is personally liable to pay it.

    Nil backlog

    “Till now, the Commission has received over 1,000 applications. We now have nil backlog as initial action has been initiated against all of them. We have so far held more than 100 enquiries and explanations have been sought from 60 officials for defaulting on providing information. Till now, we have had only 50 cases where information sought was unnecessarily delayed by officials,” he said.

    The Commission will submit an annual progress report, including details of erring departments to the State Legislature.

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