Thanks to Public Information Officer (PIO) Piyush Pandey (50), a department considered the most corrupt in the Uttar Pradesh government has excelled in transparency.
There is not a single appeal against Pandey’s decision, which means he had satisfied all Right To Information (RTI) applicants — a rare feat for a government official.
And this is why he is a nominee for the National RTI awards in the PIO category.
Pandey is a PIO with the Urban Land and Ceiling Department in Gorakhpur.
The department, considered as one of the most corrupt, is entrusted with the task of acquiring land from those who own more than the prescribed limits.
“We receive almost 20 to 30 RTI applications every month. Till date, none of the RTI applications has gone in for a first or second appeal,” he said.
Earlier, people approaching this department had to run from pillar to post to get even the basic information.
And often this information was either not disclosed or only made available at a “cost”.
“I try to ensure that a person gets access to his file within 24 hours of filing an application,” said Pandey, who has been with the State Public Service Commission for 29 years.
Rishikesh Kumar, a coordinator with the National RTI Awards Secretariat, said If true, this would a rare case.
“We come across so many cases, where people curse the bureaucracy for obstructing information,” he said. “After an RTI application (is filed), they (applicants) have to do several rounds of the Information Commission.”
But before Pandey's nomination goes to the jury, his claim would be verified independently by various sources, Kumar said.
The National RTI Awards are meant to honour officials who have shown exemplary commitment to implementing the Act. The intention is to provide positive reinforcement to such officers.