Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Meghalaya: NGO gets bill of Rs. 4.5 lakhs for seeking RTI from PWD!

The North East Today: Meghalaya: Wednesday, July 12, 2017.
In what may be termed as a blatant defiance of the RTI, the Achik Youth Council (AYC) was in for a shocker when it sought information under the RTI Act of 2005 from the Public Works Department (PWD) East Garo Hills, after the NGO was provided a bill of over Rs 4.5 lakhs for the information to be provided in digital format.
The information being sought by the NGO pertained to road projects under Williamnagar division including PMGSY roads in the district.
The department’s unprecedented demand has forced the NGO to seek the intervention of the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) for a resolution of the matter even as the NGO sought to understand why such a demand was made in the first place. The NGO has further sought the information to be provided for free after the department had missed the 30 day deadline to communicate with them on the matter.
“We had sought the information through scanned copies in a DVD as we expected the number of pages to be big and costly through paper documents. However, when we were provided a bill of about Rs 4.5 lakhs, we were in for a complete shock. We thus decided to approach the SCIC on the matter,” said Maxbirth G Momin, a member of the NGO.
The complaint by the NGO was sent on July 7 this month to the SCIC.
The NGO further pointed to the department trying to falsify the date of sending them intimation of the amount required.
“We filed the RTI on May 15 and on July 1 received a letter from the PIO, PWD (Roads), Williamnagar Division, wherein they sought the money for scanned copies in digital format at market rates. While the letter head states May 17 as the date of replying, the registered post shows the date as June 27. This is falsification of information and also falls more than 40 days after our request for information,” added Maxbirth.
The NGO further pointed to a earlier case wherein charging for scanning at market rates was not allowed but charging at rates as per the Act was allowed. They also stated that the information should now be provided free as the department had missed the 30 day deadline for supplying information under the Act (40 in case of third party).