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Friday, August 29, 2008

RTI updates on SMS

Hindustan Times; Chetan Chauhan ; New Delhi, August 26, 2008; First Published: 23:59 IST(26/8/2008); Last Updated: 00:00 IST(27/8/2008)

You could soon track the status of your Right to Information (RTI) application on your mobile phone, if the recommendations of a panel of information commissioners are taken up.

There's more. The sub-committee has also proposed an information commissioner for each district. And that performance responding to RTI applications be included in the annual career reports of bureaucrats.

The committee has selected the Andhra Pradesh model of quick responses to applications for replication in other states. In Andhra Pradesh, applicants can keep track of their application through SMSes sent to a call centre.

The Punjab model has been suggested to help citizens file applications at the district and the sub-divisional level.

The proposal of an information commissioner in each district is borrowed from Maharashtra.

The committee has asked state governments to provide police protection to those whose applications may expose corruption in the public distribution system, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and road construction scheme. (or government schemes)

The panel has blamed the bureaucracy for the poor implementation of the RTI Act. And as a remedy, the panel says bureaucrats must be appraised on the basis of their response to RTI appeals.

"Inclusion of RTI in annual career reports (ACRs) of public information officers should be mandatory," the committee has said.

Training government officials on RTI issues has also been suggested.

It also wants collectors to monitor the disposal of RTI applications submitted at district centres. At the village level, the panel has suggested that panchayats handle the job.

Emphasising that poor maintenance of records is the main reason for hindering the government in successfully implementing the Act, the committee has asked states to computerise all records and provide information regarding it to public information officers.

The list of all public authorities, including NGOs, should be put up on the state information commission website, the committee has said.

The committee has also proposed that the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad, serve as the national centre to compile and analyse information related to the implementation of the RTI Act.

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