The next time you see a board about filing a Right to Information (RTI) query at a railway station, thank this man.
Activist Raja Bunch had been persuading the Western Railways (WR) to install such boards on all its stations. Giving in, the WR last week instructed its station managers to put up the boards at each station.
Section 4 of the RTI Act makes it mandatory for every government office to voluntarily display information about its working to the public, including the list of its public information officers. This was supposed to be done within 120 days of the act coming into force on October 13, 2005.
“This was something that the government and its agencies, like the railways, should have done on their own. But, they failed to do so and hence, citizens have to step in and remind them of their own responsibilities,” said Bunch, a member of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI).
The boards, which have information published in three languages - English, Hindi and Marathi – gives details on how to send an RTI query for the WR, and whom should it be addressed to, along with the postal address of these authorities.
Bunch, a Borivli resident, feels that such a move would help the common man get his queries addressed more effectively. “Usually, when we want to file an RTI, the first question we counter is whom the query should be addressed to. Hopefully, with these boards being put up, citizens would know better,” he said.
When contacted, Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, WR, said: “We are starting with the Mumbai division and will then be installing these boards at all 800 stations on the WR route.”
Dismissing allegations that the project was delayed, Chandrayan said, “We have already displayed this information at our divisional office as well as on our website. This move is to just take it a step ahead.”