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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Mohali police has no reply to RTI queries on Kharar flyover

In response to all the queries, it says the information sought in the RTIs filed is not part of section 2 (f) of RTI Act, 2005 and is ‘sensitive’

cities Updated: Oct 16, 2019 01:11 IST
Idrees Bukhtiyar
Idrees Bukhtiyar
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Hindustantimes
         

The Chandigarh-Kharar flyover, which has been beset with several delays and is now likely to be completed by June 2020, is a motorists’ nightmare because of poorly managed traffic and potholes at several spots. However, Mohali police has refused to divulge any details of how it handles traffic on the stretch, treating it as “top secret,” three RTI (Right to Information) applications filed by Hindustan Times show.

Keeping in mind illegal economic activities in the state, the police also has no response to the fourth RTI query on the number of paying guest facilities in the city.

In response to all the queries, it says the information sought in the RTIs filed is not part of section 2 (f) of RTI Act, 2005 and is ‘sensitive’.

 Article 2 (f) of the RTI Act covers information on any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advice, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law in force.

To this, HC Arora, RTI activist, says traffic diversion and challans do not constitute the sensitive information and the administration “should not hide under the veil of certain sections incorporated for maintaining national integration.”

“The law clearly states that information can’t be disclosed when it comes to disclosure regarding sovereignty and integrity of country, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence,” he said.

In response to the RTIs, Kuldeep Singh Chahal, Mohali senior superintendent of police (SSP), wrote, “The information you have sought is not covered under section 2 (f) Act of the RTI Act, 2005, so your application is sent to my office.”

Police deployment, diversions

The first RTI was filed on August 26, asking how many policemen had been deployed under the Chandigarh-Kharar flyover to manage traffic.   

The second one was filed on August 27 asking for the number of traffic diversion points created under the flyover and details of complaints of motorists and others as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) monitoring the flyover had blamed the district administration for not creating any diversions, saying it was delaying the completion of the flyover.

Paying guest accommodation

Of the two RTIs filed on September 4, one sought information on the number of paying guest facilities being run in Mohali, Dera Bassi and Zirakpur, asking how many were registered and if the police had inspected them in the last one year. Reports so far say there are no checks on mushrooming of PGs and no records are available with government authorities on the number of PGs in the city.

The other RTI application asked how many heavy vehicles had been challaned for not following the Mohali district administration’s ban on their entry under the Chandigarh-Kharar flyover.

‘No grounds for denial of information’

RTI activists termed section 2 (f) just as an excuse for the government officials to deny the information.

“There are no grounds for denial of information under this section 2 (f). I believe that the information one seeks normally from the authorities and is unable to get can also be received under this section,” said R K Singhla, a Chandigarh-based RTI activist.

“By saying that your RTI contains the questions that can’t be answered is not an excuse. It clearly means that the officials don’t want to reveal something important,” added Arora.

The SSP, when asked to comment on the matter, said “I don’t know what information you have sought. I will have to check”.

  Interestingly, Mohali police, in response to an RTI query filed by this correspondent on July 10 on the number of heavy vehicles plying under the Kharar flyover and details of challans issued, had said, “No heavy vehicles plied under Chandigarh-Kharar flyover and we haven’t issued any challan from January till June.”

However, contrary to this claim, a number of vehicles were found to be plying on the Kharar stretch, and photographs of the same were published in the newspaper.