Wednesday, February 06, 2008

RTI Project updates - 9

RTI Awareness

An awareness session happened on Monday (28-Jan-2008) at Kallukkuttai a slum near TIDEL Park. This was organised by AIDWA. About 30 people turned up for the session. I explained about the act for some time. After that we discussed problems they had. Many people told us about the common issues that they all faced. One of them was that there was not drinking water supply for them. They also talked about other basic amenities that they lack. There were also the usual problems of people not getting their ration cards on time. Unlike the previous awareness session, here people were more attentive and hence they could understand what I was talking about. Here are some snaps.

We filed two RTI applications here. One to their panchayat regarding their water problem and the other one to slum clearance board asking which parts of the slum come under the board's purview. For individual applications, I gave them a sample application and asked them to file applications themselves. And to contact us over the helpline for any help. I did this since the group seemed to be a reasonably active group who take initiatives.

Working with the Commission

At last, the deadlock with the commission broke. I met Mr.Dhandapani again on Friday (Feb 1st) and told him that I had come with a camera and wanted copies of the decisions. That is how began the conversation. I did not do it the usual way I do by asking when I will be allowed to take a copy of the decisions. Probably he sensed my irritation and also the determination and asked me to meet the chief commissioner. I met the commissioner and told him that it has been a month since he gave me permission, but that Mr.Dhandapani was not letting me access them. The commissioner immediately called Mr.Dhandapani and asked him why I was not allowed to access the decisions. He as usual said that there were still come corrections that need to be done. There have been cases where they have sent the decision to the wrong applicant, who has responded saying there was a mistake. He said that since there were such problems, if such copies go to the media then it would be an embarrassment. They also said that the media does not highlight good work as much as it highlights mistakes. Then I asked if I would at least be allowed to look at the decisions sitting in their office to which the commissioner agreed. To this Mr.Dhandapani also agreed. They told me that I can look at all their decisions in their office. If there are decisions of which I want a copy, they said they will correct them if there are any mistakes then and there and give them to me immediately. I said I was ok with such an arrangement, and so we all came to a compromise. So an analysis of their decisions will start next week

RTI Helpline

Now-a-days there are 1 or 2 calls daily on the helpline and it is heartening. This week I talked to ananda vikatan (a widely read weekly) and requested them to put in a couple of lines about the helpline. Let us see whether they do it.

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