Right to Information – Master key to good governance

TNRTI Update 7: Valedictory, TNPCB, Dept of Env

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 26, 2006

TNRTIC Update 7

25 July, 2006


25 July was the concluding day of the 15-day Tamilnadu wide campaign on Right to Information. Nearly 300 people attended the valedictory function of the campaign. A copy of the press release is pasted below. Inaugurating the function, Mr. A.K. Venkatsubramaniam (Former IAS officer) said that the Act by itself wasn’t of much use. He said that the Tamilnadu RTI campaign should be considered highly successful because it has explained the Act to common people and assisted them in using the Act. “People have to internalise the law and use it in their day-to-day lives. That’s what infuses life into the Act,” he said. “If people are the rulers in a democracy, then information is key.”

Eminent educationist Dr. S.S. Rajagopalan who delivered the valedictory address urged people to remain cautious of the Government. “The Prime Minister may have said that people have to be made into the rulers of the nation; but he hasn’t specified what we should be ruling. Don’t jump in excitement because of the Act. The bureaucracy will find creative ways of perverting the act. You have to be on the lookout.”

He said it wasn’t sufficient to use the Act to get information. For effective democratic participation based on information, one had to go through a six-step process:

Knowing the Act;

Understanding the Act;

Using the Act;

Sifting through the Information generated by your information request;

Compiling the important information;

Taking a decision and using the compiled information to effect the desired change or get the desired results.

He congratulated the organisers for the successful effort.

Ms. U. Vasuki, General Secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association strongly condemned the Government’s move to exempt file notings stating that these notings represented the “A to Z” decision making. She cited the case of a lone woman official’s battle with her Managing Director at a Public Sector undertaking. A victim of sexual harassment, the official was being traumatised by the MD who would intervene to prevent her from exercising her simplest rights — including leave and other entitlements. This was before the RTI Act. The Sexual Harassment Committee set up was successful in securing the file notings on the woman’s leave applications and discovered that leave decisions that ought to be taken at a much lower level were taken (and denied) by the MD only in the case of this woman for no valid reason. This lent weight to the allegations of harassment and revenge against the MD, and eventually resulted in disciplinary action against him.

Ms. Vasuki said that any move to curb the Right to Information should be fought. She reminded people to see the Act in the right perspective. “RTI is not an alternative to struggle. Rather, it should be used to get information that will strengthen the struggle.” Reminding us that even the Parliament was kept in the dark about important deals such as the US-India deal, she said people have to fight to ensure that the RTI Act is really meaningful and does not lull people into complacency.

She commended the TNRTI Campaign for taking the Act to the masses, and said that the Campaign’s proposal to hold regular camps every second Saturday was a welcome move. AIDWA would encourage its women members to visit the camp and use it.

TNRTI Update: Government Response — TNPCB, Dept of Environment. 24 July

Mr. Devasigamani, Dy Director and Public Information Officer, Department of Environment, and Mr. Mohan Naidu, Public Information Officer, Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board attended the meeting.

The Department of Environment is primarily concerned with environmental education, river conservation and coordinates Coastal Regulation Zone related matters. The Department has no enforcement mandate.

PIO: Deputy Director

Appellate Authority: Additional Director

Demand Draft: Director of Environment

Cash payments are accepted

The Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board representative said the Board was the implementing authority for environmental laws  — Water Act, Air Act, Environment Protectino Act, Hazardous Waste Management Rules etc.

TNPCB was swamped with complaints and questions by frustrated citizens. Many people asked TNPCB what recourse should be taken when petition after petition was ignored by the Board. Mr. Naidu explained that every petition received would result in a site inspection, after which the accused industry would be called and given suggestions to change. If the suggestions were not followed, the head office would send a show-cause notice. If the explanation given was not adequate, the industry would be ordered to close down. He said the TNPCB has received more than 30 applications till date.

PIO: Joint Chief Engineer

APIO: District Environment Engineer

Appellate Authority: Member Secretary

Cash is accepted. Demand draft: in the name of “Member Secretary, TNPCB”


2 Responses to “TNRTI Update 7: Valedictory, TNPCB, Dept of Env”

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