4 yrs on, RTI goes strong | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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4 yrs on, RTI goes strong

mumbai Updated: Oct 12, 2009 01:10 IST
Amrita U Kadam

Shailesh Gandhi, now chief information commissioner, used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to uncover the Rs 1,000 crore loss the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was ready to incur by letting a private developer undertake the Crawford Market redevelopment.

In another RTI application filed by Gandhi, he got to know that a senior leader, Surupsinh Naik, who was under arrest was enjoying treatment normally accorded to VIPs.

An RTI query by local activist G.R. Vora saved nearly 1,400 trees from being hacked at LBS Marg.

Mumbai: That’s just a whiff of how people have used the RTI Act in the last four years. And the state is in the forefront where it comes to implementing the sunshine law.

On the fourth anniversary of the RTI Act, Shailesh Gandhi, chief information commissioner, said the Act was doing ‘fairly well’ across India.

With 4.16 lakh applications received in the last one year — 63,000 of them directed to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation — people in the state seem to be using the RTI Act actively.

“Thanks to the relentless efforts of noted social crusader Anna Hazare, the Act was introduced in Maharashtra in 2002,” said Suresh Joshi, state information commissioner.

On October 12, 2005, the Union government enacted a legislation making RTI applicable across India.

Despite the gung-ho feeling, activists are wary of any amendments to the Act.

“If the government does not dilute the Act with amendments to it, we can hope for a change in India from it being an electoral democracy to a participatory democracy,” said Gandhi.

The process to fill in the form is still manual and Gandhi said that in a country where about 70 per cent of government employees are not computer-savvy, there was little scope for the process to go online soon. Also, the chance of making RTI queries telephonic was rather slim, he said.