Government push needed in AP
KVVV CHARYA & SATYA NAAGESH AYYAGARY
Posted online: Monday, July 10, 2006 at 0000 hours IST
According to Chief Information Commissioner CD Arha, “the implementation of RTI in some offices is extremely satisfactory,” but not so in others.The RTI Act is now being implemented across the state and all administrative offices have designated public information officers, as mandated in the Act. While the Act came into force in September 2005, the government was able to provide the required machinery, including the appellate state commission, only by November 2005. The government has also enacted legislation making it mandatory for the administration to provide information online.
The real transformation has to come from officialdom, by accepting the need for a paradigm shift in their working. Interestingly, a large chunk of the applications (about 80%) received are from within the establishment, seeking to know about promotion files, allotment of office quarters and sundry other personal issues among officials. “This is my greatest concern,” says Arha. Though the applications are legitimate and they have a right to this information, the RTI Act has to be extensively used by the general public, he felt.
On the other hand, Jayaprakash Narayan, national coordinator, Lok Satta, an NGO which initiated an extensive campaign—including TV capsules, radio spots and other communication channels — to bring awareness and educate the public about the RTI before it become an Act, says he is distressed at the lack of proper implementation. According to him, while the Act clearly says that almost 95% of the information should be in the public domain and some others on demand, it is not happening in the state. “Pro-active information disclosure is not happening.”
According to an official, another type of information being sought by some members of the public is on land records, especially in the wake of a sudden jump in land prices all over. But the departments concerned are in a fix, being unable to furnish information within the stipulated 30 days, as records are scattered in different locations and are also in bad physical condition.
Narayan says it should now be the efforts of the government and not that of civil society groups, to implement the RTI Act in spirit. He rues that at the moment it is legal-centric rather than citizen-centric. Also, people do not know where many of the departments are. So, there is an urgent need for a ‘single window’ where citizens can approach for processing the requests. The government also needs to make a uniform format and also communicate it to the public extensively through the media, which should do it as a public service.