Thursday, June 25, 2009

RTI helpline completes third year in state

Express News Service Posted online: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 2234 hrs
Vadodara : The Right to Information Act (RTI) helpline started by the NGO, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), completed its third year of working, on Tuesday.
According to the details of the call records collected by the NGO, the helpline has received the maximum number of calls from farmers across Gujarat and some neighbouring states, wanting to know the procedure of filing an RTI form, and other related information. So far, the helpline has answered 38,269 phone calls on RTI-related issues.

Pankti Jog, co-ordinator, MAGP said: “An analysis of people calling up the helpline revealed that most of them were farmers who had questions related to their land. Teachers, Public Information Officers (PIOs), differently-abled people, social workers and small entrepreneurs also formed a sizeable number of callers.”

According to an analysis, the major part of the calls involved complaints about receiving partial or misleading information (15 per cent), followed closely by those about receiving information about the stipulated period of 30 days (12 per cent).

Other complaints included applications being rejected, applicants being threatened and denial of information by the PIOs.

According to the NGO, Gujarat has been one of the top performers in the implementation and provision of information under the RTI Act.

Harinesh Pandya from MAGP said: "The preliminary data of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information ranks Gujarat second after Meghalaya in the implementation of RTI.”

The study further showed that while the RTI helpline has been largely successful in spreading awareness, a lot still needs to be done to increase the understanding of services and to ensure honest and speedy delivery of information.

Jog said: “Rural people know more about RTI. We also receive more queries from them as compared to the urban population. Panchayat members too use the helpline to get answer to their queries. In fact, the helpline has been so successful that even PIOs and appellate organisations contact us to ensure transparency in processing of the applications.”