SRINAGAR, JUN 9: The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) J&K, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai called for creating more awareness among general public for effective implementation of J&K RTI Act, 2009.
The Chief Information Commissioner was addressing a Roundtable of First Appellate Authorities (FAAs), Public Information Officers (PIOs) of District Anantnag.
The CIC stated that as per figures available for the year 2014-15, 27000 RTI applications have been received by the PIOs in the State while over 30000 applications were received in year 2013-14. This works out to an average of 1200 to 1300 applications per district, per year, which is quite low.
He further said that if higher number of applications from district Srinagar and Jammu are accounted for, it would appear that number of applications from other districts is even less than 1000 per year or may be even lesser. This is the result of lack of awareness about RTI law among general public, he added.
He further said that exercise of right under RTI Act can be extremely useful in improving delivery of the developmental programmes being undertaken as part of the District as well as State Plans and under various other State and Central sponsored schemes and projects. He said that greater exercise of RTI will help to improve the performance of local self Government institutions like Municipalities, Panchayats and recruitment agencies.
The CIC said that there is a need for allocation of separate budget which could be provided to all the Deputy Commissioners in the State to conduct awareness generation programmes regarding RTI to meet requirements of Section 23.
The RTI activists highlighted various problems, which RTI applicants are facing and sought directions from the CIC and Deputy Commissioner to all the PIOs, so that information sought by the applicants is provided within stipulated time frame and no information is hidden unless covered by exemptions under sections 8 and 9 of the Act or cannot be provided in terms of section 11 etc.
DC Anantnag, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah said that this Roundtable will prove to be a watershed, and PIOs and FAAs will certainly perform better in view of guidelines and advice given by the CIC. He also assured that suggestions of the RTI Activists will be considered on merits and necessary follow up action will be taken.