Thursday, August 03, 2017

CMDA rejects RTI query, citing risk to store’s business

Times of India: Chennai: Thursday, August 03, 2017.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has rejected an RTI application seeking the approved plan diagram of a commercial superstore under construction on Duraisamy Road in T Nagar citing risk to the firm's business.
The response has brought to light the CMDA's agenda of protecting building violators, especially in T Nagar, said RTI activists.
The RTI application filed by B Kannan of T Nagar on July 7 sought a copy of the "approved plan diagram" of the building under construction at No.1 Duraisamy Road. According to CMDA's website, the plan applicant Siva Aruldurai has been permitted to construct stilt plus three floors, including a basement, for commercial purposes.
In its response on July 26, the CMDA cited Rule 8(1) sub clause (j) of the RTI Act, 2005, and said that disclosure of the plan diagram would "harm the competitive position of third party." The response said that the information sought by the applicant did not "warrant any large public interest" and hence should be exempted from disclosure.
Kannan told TOI that the entity building the store is under the scanner for building violations.
RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan rubbished the response. "The applicant had not sought personal information. As per CMDA norms, the approved plan should be put up on a display board at the site," he said.
Gopalakrishnan said that the CMDA's public information officer (PIO) may not be thorough with the provisions under the RTI Act. "Any information that cannot be denied to the Parliament or state legislature cannot be denied to an individual. It says so in the same sub-clause (j) that the PIO used to deny the application," he added.
A former CMDA official said that it was wrong for the agency to set a "disturbing trend" of denying basic information. Kannan added that he will be filing an appeal on his RTI query with the appellate authority.
CMDA member secretary C Vijayaraj Kumar could not be reached for comment.