Here’s another example of how the Right to Information (RTI) Act is bringing about a steady change in the way bureaucracy functions.
Usha Rani (45), former district collector of Mahboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh, used the Act to curb corruption. She has been nominated — by P Baalakrishna, a citizen — for the National RTI Award in the category of public information officer.
Rani used RTI to ensure transparency and accountability in 52 departments under her jurisdiction from 2006 to 2009.
“As administrative head and first appellate authority, Usha Rani made sure we got replies to all our applications,” said Baalakrishna.
Suspecting corruption in a scheme of allotment of pattas (plots of land for houses) to the poor,
Baalakrishna had filed an RTI application in 2006. After the PIO did not give him the information he sought, Baalakrishna filed a first appeal with Rani, a 1995 batch Andhra cadre IAS officer.
He got a prompt reply that revealed irregularities in the allotment. With Rani’s help, he ensured that the plots went to those who deserved them.
In another case, Baalakrishna and some others filed 15-20 applications to find out why some had not received ration cards. Again, Rani ensured all the applicants got information.
Rani, who has also used RTI to expose corrupt politicians and officials, said: “RTI has come as a boon for well-meaning bureaucrats... They now have RTI to mobilize social pressure against those who want to corrupt the system.”