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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Delhi wakes up to RTI drive

Hindustan Times, Avishek G Dastidar, New Delhi, July 14, 2006: The 15-day Drive Against Bribe campaign ends today, as more and more bureaucrats realise that dilly-dallying over work could cost them their jobs, thanks to the RTI Act, 2005.
“The campaign has proved that, as an antidote to bribery and red tape, nothing works better,” says Manav Mehra from Ghaziabad.
He should know — he owes his mother’s wellbeing to the HT-supported drive. His critically ill mother was refused prompt admission at a super-specialty government hospital even after he paid the fees. He filed an RTI application to the hospital authorities. Within two days, the hospital offered his mother a bed and a vital surgery was done.
In fact, the very mention of RTI has the babus working. “I just told a passport official that I’d file an RTI application. The next day, my husband’s application for a duplicate passport — pending for three months — was processed and the passport delivered,” says Janakpuri’s Smitha Hegde.
The Delhi government pitched in, deputing three officials for help. Said Chief Minister Shiela Dixit: “This seems a perfect way of citizens taking stock of their government.”
Owing to public demand, besides the IG Stadium camp, sub-camps were set up in other parts of the city. “People kept requesting for help. We had to set up sub-camps at two regional passport offices and seven ADM offices,” says Manish Sisodia, a member of one of the 14 NGOs that operated. In all, over 200 volunteers participated at the Delhi camps.

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