Right to information: MCD biggest answering machine
Civic body has entertained over 20,000 queries since 2005, but applicants question quality of response.delhi Updated: Jun 01, 2009 01:05 IST
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is the biggest civic body in the country. In control of 96 per cent of Delhi’s total area and 98 per cent of the population, if anybody still needs confirmation on how the MCD touches our lives, here it is.
The civic body second only to Tokyo in terms of geographical area entertained the maximum number of RTI (Right to Information) applications since the Act came into existence on October 12, 2005.
The numbers speak volumes.
MCD has been showered with a whopping 20,700 queries, topping the list of departments/government bodies in Delhi entertaining such applications. The total applications generated in the Capital were 92,464.
“We (the MCD) are with you from birth till death. It (the RTI applications) is just a reflection of challenges before us,” said MCD Director Public Relations Deep Mathur.
A look at the statistics from October 12, 2005 till May 27, 2009, show 20,700 RTI applications pertained to MCD followed by 10,972 pertaining to Delhi police.
The third and the fourth in the list are nowhere near the two biggies with state government’s education department accounting for 8,290 applications and 5,619 applications related to cooperative societies.
Surprisingly, for all its sedentary mechanism, statistics shows the civic body has been disposing off RTI applications pretty fast.
If the statistics are to be believed, of the 20,700 cases, only 53 cases are pending. But not everything is hunky dory: Though the number of cases pending may be small, the nature of disposal has been far from satisfactory.
Bhanu Prasad (name changed on request), a former clerk in one of MCD’s own departments, says, “I had asked for information related to certain encroachment in our area. The MCD disposed off my query by questioning my locus standi.”
Explains Mathur, “Sometimes people ask very complicated questions, wherein not all things are clear and answers cannot be given correctly. Sometimes, we offer photocopies of the documents to the applicant, but it may not satisfy them.”
This prompts the citizens to approach the Central Information Commission (CIC). But even there things are not as they should be.
“The disposal of cases at this level, too, is not satisfactory. Information Commissioners, including Shailesh Gandhi — who was an RTI activist before taking over the charge six months ago — are not levying penalty on any of the Public Information Officers (PIOs) dealing with MCD cases,” RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal points out.