Monday, April 14, 2008

RTI Project Updates - 19

No awareness sessions happened this week. There was a success case this week. There was one person Mr.Parthasarathy who had called up on our phone helpline. He was mentioned in "RTI Project Updates 15,16". Hehad moved from Jammu to Chennai a year and a half back and applied for a ration card. He had not got it. He had gone to the office many times, tried filing a complaint with the office, tried petitioning the CM's cell and nothing had any effect. Then he filed an RTI application. Within fifteen days they had come for inspection. Last week he called up saying that his ration card was ready and thanked me for the help. This is the first success case, that i know of, on our RTI phone helpline. The Saturday BIG FM program continued and we took two callers this time.

I went to talk to the Commissioner about two things this time. One was about doing awareness programs on Doordarshan. So I checked with him whether the commission has any funds. And then came this incredible happening. He told me that he had written for some money for doing a movie on RTI which can be used for publicity . The government sat on it for 4 months and then days before the the financial year was coming to an end, the funds were sanctioned. No, this is not a happy ending. These funds had to be spent before the end of the financial year and the bills submitted back. With just very few days left, it was an impossible task. Which probably the government knew very well. The commissioner told me that there is a general stone walling by the government when it comes to the commission. He had been told that 4 staff would come to the commission starting April 1st but none of them have turned up yet.

Then I came to the oft discussed topic of uploading SIC decisions on a website. I told him that even forgetting old decisions for the moment, why dont they start uploading the decisions given from now on. For this he asked me why I was so particular that decisions be uploaded on to the website. I told him that the commission's important decisions are left unnoticed and that if there are some good decisions then it would be good to get it publicised in the media so that other PAs look at it and be more sensible in handling RTI applicaitons. Then he said that he was deliberately keeping a low profile. Then he told me about how if the government really wants to strangle the act, it can easily do so with some rules. But then after some more discussion he finally agreed that he will start uploading decisions from May 1st. So now I need to ensure that this happens.

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