Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 departments may not be reporting all RTI applications

The state information commission is now suspicious that 10 departments of the Gujarat government are severely under-reporting RTI applications filed by citizens with public information officers right from the village level. The commission in its 2014-15 annual report claims that there has been a drop of 11,576 applications filed before 28 major departments of the state. In 2013-14, there were 1.72 lakh RTI applications filed across the state, which fell to 1.61 lakh in 2014-15. 

Under the commission's scanner are the departments of agriculture and co-operatives, education, food and civil supplies, consumer affairs, health and family welfare, Narmada water supply, panchayats and rural housing, social justice, tribal development and women and child development. 

The commission's report says: "The functions of the above 10 departments affect the life of people right down to the village level. The panchayats department deals with more than 18,000 villages and if the department states that only 6,033 RTI applications were filed in an entire year, it appears suspicious." 

Citing the example of the education department, the report states: "Government primary schools in almost all villages of the state, are expected to receive a considerable number of RTI applications. However, the number is shown to be 3,541, and it looks suspicious."

Through the year, the commission imposed fines on 69 officials in state government with the maximum penalty being Rs 25,000.

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