Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Software ‘update’: RTI section on corp websites offline for 5 years

Times of India: New Delhi: Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
For five years, the RTI section on the websites of the three municipal corporations has been offline due to "updation of software".
Until 2012, before the trifurcation of the erstwhile MCD, the corporation website had a functional RTI tab. In the past five years, while the websites have been revised, several new apps launched, the RTI tab has been in a comatose state. Corporation officials don't want to say why.
Some blame it on "administrative functionality", some say it's because of "technical complexity", others pass the buck onto the Central Information Commission. "Under the RTI Act, every department has PIOs and a reply has to be given within 15 days of an RTI being filed. But since trifurcation, we have been facing functional problems. If the system receives the complaint, we will have to send it to the appropriate department. But since we have such a diverse structure, the proper routing of application to all the administrative offices across city, or, let's say a deputy commissioner in faraway Narela, might take time. Proper mapping will have to be done otherwise and we will try to start in by next week," said an official of south corporation, the nodal agency for e-governance.
IT officials from all the three corporations couldn't explain why they haven't been able to tweak the existing RTI software for so many years.
The north corporation commissioner said he would "look into the matter and see where the problem lies" while the spokesperson of south corporation told TOI to direct the queries to Tech Mahindra that has been managing the e-services since 2010. But the IT team of north corporation attributed the delay to "pending approval" from the administration.
This blame game isn't new. RTI activist Mohit Goel claimed that the delay has been due to the reluctance to be scrutinised. He said the system worked fine before trifurcation. "For six months, I have used the online system. It's a matter of intentions being wrong, not the software," Goel said.
He added that the websites of the three corporations also don't post suo motu disclosures mandated under the RTI Act. "They are simply not interested in transparency," Goel said.
High court lawyer Anil Kumar Aggarwal said the corporations were openly flouting the RTI Act and running away from accountability.
The mayors, however, promised to look into it urgently and get the system up and running in the next 10 days.