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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Activists boycott RTI Act's one year celebrations

Aruna Roy, Anna Hazare find no place among the speakers

NEW DELHI: Appalled by indifferent functioning of the Central Information Commission (CIC), Right to Information (RTI) activists led by social activist Aruna Roy have boycotted the three-day convention to celebrate one year of the RTI Act that would be inaugurated by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Another social activist, Anna Hazare, is sore over the failure of the CIC to include him among the speakers at the convention.

According to Madhu Badhuri of NGO Parivartan, which has been in the forefront of the awareness campaign on RTI Act, the working of the CIC and the way it has drawn a "most objectionable" programme to mark the first year of the implementation of the RTI Act has shocked the activists.

She said the Central Information Commission had invited members of civil society and the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) to participate in the Steering Committee of the convention. However, the formality having been completed the members of NCPRI were not even consulted once. The entire programme was drawn without consulting the Steering Committee.

Ms. Aruna Roy and Mr. Anna Hazare, who have struggled for years for the people's Right to Information, had no hand in drawing the programme of the convention. They also have no place among the speakers at the convention.

The Chief Information Commissioner and his illustrious secretariat of IAS officers would take the convention's centre stage, she remarked, adding that it was shocking that the only organisation that has been invited to give a presentation at the CIC Convention is the Delhi Development Authority. "The DDA is internationally acclaimed as the most corrupt institution and the public has a right to know why the DDA has been given this selective honour by CIC, which has been entrusted with the task of fighting corruption through the RTI Act," a Parivartan activist said.

"On the other hand, institutions like Bhillai Steel have done commendable work in implementing RTI in its own offices. The District Magistrates of Bareilly and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh are also doing commendable work in implementing RTI in their respective areas. Why have they not been asked to make presentations in the three day long celebrations meant to mark the first year of the RTI Acts implementation," she asked. The RTI activists are also sad because while there are artistes who have been closely working with the struggle for the people's right to information, none of them has been invited to present their songs and dramas.

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Date:13/10/2006 URL:

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