Fed up with years of dilly-dallying by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Raja Garden residents turned to the Right to Information (RTI) to help them know about civic facilities in their area.
But even the RTI failed to evoke a response from the civic body, prompting the Central Information Commission (CIC) to pull it up for not providing information on time and also to fix responsibility for the delay.
Almost two decades ago, a fire had destroyed a timber mart in the area and the traders had been relocated. But many of them soon came back and continued to occupy the original place.
“MCD’s own map for the area shows this market as an open ground/garden. Our RWA sent almost 500 letters to the MCD during the last 20 years but to no avail,” said P.P. Sehgal, Raja Garden Residents Welfare Association president.
The RWA finally filed an RTI in August 2008 to find out whether the MCD had acquired any land for facilitating civic facilities and if the process was complete.
The petition also asked if any civil writ petition had been filed in this connection and if any action was taken as per the directives from the Lt Governor’s and Delhi Chief Minister’s offices.
The MCD’s Public Information Officer (PIO) from the Superintending Engineer West Zone failed to provide a proper reply, with an equally improper redressal at the First Appellant Authority.
Finally, the case reached the CIC. During the hearing, the PIO stated that the information related to the Horticulture Department and they had sent the RTI to another department.
The PIO further said that for the past six months, the MCD had been trying to find out who should provide the information.
Calling it an “extremely inefficient way of working”, information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, in his decision on June 11, directed the MCD’s additional commissioner (education) Janak Diggal to fix the responsibility for the delay and inform the panel as to which officers were responsible.
“It is obvious that the officers do not know who has what information,” Gandhi said.
Diggal has been asked to give the names of the officers responsible before June 30 and ensure that the applicant is provided with the relevant information before June 25.