MANY WHO believed that the Right To Information campaign would not lead to benefits, are now gradually turning into staunch advocates, thanks to the ongoing assistance-cum-awareness campaign by HT in association with voluntary organisations.
For PCO owner Charan Singh of Dalibagh, the Act virtually turned out to be a magic wand. His phone was lying dead for the past four days. “I had made several complaints to the department but nothing happened. Not only was I worried because it is my only source of livelihood but also apprehensive that someone may misuse my number as it had both STD and ISD facility,” said Singh.
His anxiety, however, was short-lived. On Thursday, Singh approached the Drive Against Bribe camp at the Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar Mahasabha office on Vidhan Sabha Road where trained volunteers helped him out in moving an application with the appropriate authority under the RTI. “The response was unbelievable. The phone was restored by the time I reached home,” said the thrilled PCO owner.
In spite of such successes, there is still a long way to go thanks to the stiff resistance from the thick-skinned ‘babus’ who look down upon the Act as some sort of a pesky tool in the hands of nosey people. But their indifferent attitude has only made the alert and well informed to pursue and exercise their right with even more diligence. Take for instance, the example of this teenager Mohd Anas Shamsi, who despite being rebuffed by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) persisted till they were left with no choice but to accept his applications under the RTI.
A cursory look at the questions being posed by this boy makes you understand the LMC’s initial refusal to entertain his complaints. Anas sought information on those behind the decision for constructing a garbage dump bang opposite a primary school in Aminabad (see picture). Besides asking the LMC officials whether the structure is legal, Anas has also questioned the wisdom of those who selected the spot for its construction. Likewise, he has also sought information from the LMC on whether the shops in Ram Krishna Park in Aminabad were legal?
Avinash Vaidh, a former physical training instructor at Yashoda Girls Inter College in Sadatganj has an equally unpleasant experience with the Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad, which has refused to entertain her application inquiring why she has not been reimbursed her duly sanctioned medical bill for the bypass surgery she underwent on June 30.
According to Arundhati, who is helping people how to apply under the RTI, a total of 108 people got themselves registered on Thursday at the camp. “Out of these 74 were assisted by us in filing their respective applications,” she said. But departments like the secondary and basic education, Regional Passport Office, the LMC and health are still refusing to accept applications under the Act, she informed and added that maximum complaints were received against the passport office here.