More people resort to RTI for information-Binoy Valsan
-The Times of India
COIMBATORE: The city municipal corporation is feeling the heat as more residents resort to RTI for information from the civic body. Whether it is poorly maintained roads, shoddy implementation of projects, pending building approvals or violations that are being pushed under the carpet, RTI replies are being sort to get clear information from officials. From April 2012 till the third week of June the corporation has received 648 RTI applications. As per the norms, reply to RTI queries should be furnished within 30 days of receiving the application. The officials claimed that they had furnished replies to 541 of these applications while 107 are pending.
"Only 26 of applications received a month ago are still pending with us. Out of the RTI queries received 18 were rejected on technical grounds," said a corporation official. The town planning wing of the corporation has received the most RTI queries with a total of 113 applications out of which 98 have been responded to. The personnel department of the civic body received 78 applications and replies to all have been furnished. The health department of the civic body stands third with a total of 64 applications out of which six are still pending.
"Certain RTI queries are being blocked within the corporation and the reply is not being given on time. Some queries have also been rejected due to technical reasons," said M Krishnasamy, former corporation councillor.
Each of the 14 departments of the city corporation has a public information officer to whom residents can submit their RTI queries. The public can also address their queries to the respective Assistant Commissioner of each of the five zones for matters pertaining to their respective zones. The deputy commissioner of the civic body is the appellate authority under section 19 (1) of RTI Act and the queries could sent to him too.
"The RTI is a vital tool for residents to get information from the city corporation but it would be more effective if the civic body responded in a timely manner," said S Kanagasundaram, former president, licensed building surveyors association, Coimbatore.
However, corporation officials maintained that the RTI Act and its norms are strictly followed. There are RTI clinics functioning in the city to help residents in drafting their queries to ensure that they do not get rejected after submission.
"We receive at least four applications each week. We make it a point to ensure that the queries are serious in nature and not frivolous so that the government does not waste precious time," said R Raveendran, honourary secretary, residents awareness association of Coimbatore (RAAC).