Cost of pollution data under RTI: Rs 27.8 lakh | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Cost of pollution data under RTI: Rs 27.8 lakh

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board has slapped a bill of Rs 27.84 lakh on a Bhopal-based Right To Information (RTI) applicant for data on polluting industries.

delhi Updated: Sep 19, 2010 01:13 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board has slapped a bill of Rs 27.84 lakh on a Bhopal-based Right To Information (RTI) applicant for data on polluting industries.

Ajay Dubey, who won the national RTI award in 2009 for his exposures using the law, had sought copies of reports in which the board found emissions from industries exceeded the limits under the Air and Water Acts.

Instead of providing the information itself, the board transferred the application to all its regional offices. The data sought was for the period from April 2009 to March 2010.

Dubey received the first reply from the Ujjan regional office this week, which said he would have to deposit R27,84,952 lakh to get information regarding 851 industries found to be polluting. “The money is on account of analysing the samples lifted from these industries,” said the Public Information Officer in his reply.

Of the total amount, Rs 14.40 lakh is for analysing water samples and the rest for analysing air quality monitoring reports of 284 industries. The only information provided was the list of industries found to be polluting under the law.

The transparency law states that the information available with the public authority has to be disclosed unless exempted. The watchdog, Central Information Commission, has repeatedly said the applicant has to pay only the fees and the photocopy charges and no money for diversion of government resources to obtain the information sought.

The reply has left the RTI activists aghast. “It is a clear violation of the RTI law,” said Magsasay award-winning RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal. “It shows the board wants to hide something.”

The money for the analysis already done cannot be sought from the applicant. The PIO, in his reply, has admitted that the entire information is available with the department.

Dr N.P. Shukla, the board’s chairman, said, “I cannot say whether the amount sought is correct or not,” he told HT. Dubey said he never asked for the analysis to be done. “It is available in the government records and the PIO should provided it as per the provisions of the law,” he said.