PANAJI — The State Information Commission on Wednesday strongly refuted the recent observation made by Kabir, a non-government organisation, in its survey that Goa should be placed last in the list of states which have been sought information under Right to Information Act as only 811 RTI applications have been made to various departments and autonomous bodies in Goa during last three years.
The survey had also observed that various departments in many states, including Goa, were reluctant to reply to the RTI applications. It further observed that the national capital leads the country in terms of applications moved under the RTI with an overwhelming 35,250 petitions being made in Delhi in the last three years.
The State Information Commission maintained that altogether 3,877 applications have been received by 53 government departments as well as autonomous bodies during the year 2006-2007, out of which 3,529 applications have been cleared and only 188 rejected. In all, 300 public authorities and 370 public information officers are taking care of the RTI Act in the state.
The Commission further informed that these 3,877 applications do not include the applications made to various courts and police departments as the rules for information sought from courts and police have not been published in the official gazette.
The applications received under the RTI Act during the year 2007-2008 are still under compilation.
The State Information Commissioner, Mr Gurudas Kambli told ‘The Navhind Times’, on Wednesday evening that the number of RTI applications received during the year 2007-2008 would be definitely more than those received during the year 2006-2007. He also observed, “Taking into consideration the size of Goa, one can safely say that the state is generating lot of interest in the RTI Act.” The statistics for the year 2006-2007 informs that the directorate of panchayats received maximum applications numbering 1,705 under the RTI Act, while 1,589 of them were cleared.
Altogether 204 applicants sought information from the public works department out of which 105 applications were cleared during the period.
The transport department received 216 application and cleared 193, while North Goa collectorate received 174 applications and cleared 158. The electricity department and the health department received 183 and 77 applications, and cleared 145 and 58, respectively.
The department of town and country planning, the vigilance department, the department of science, technology and environment, the agriculture department, and the department of archives and archaeology received 80, 57, 67, 33 and 38 applications seeking information under the RTI Act, respectively.
No information was sought from Raj Bhavan during the year, even though public authority and public information officer have been appointed for the residence of the Governor.
Speaking further, Mr Kambli said that in rare cases the complaints come to the State Information Commission, besides the appeals.
“During the year 2006-2007,” he stated, “70 complaints were filed before the Commission, out of which 54 were cleared, while 102 appeals were made before the Commission, out of which 82 were cleared.”
It was also informed that if the government departments or autonomous bodies do not provide information to the applicants under the Act and are found to have caused them inconvenience, then the Commission orders compensation to be paid to such applicants by the respective department or body.
During the year 2006-2007, there were 13 cases of compensation being paid to the applicants. They include Rs 5,000 paid by the principal chief engineer of the PWD, and Rs 2,000 each paid by the secretary of the village panchayat of Assolna, superintendent of police, South Goa, Margao as well as the Mapusa municipal council, besides other nine cases.
Though the RTI Act came into force in the country from October 12, 2005 its implementation in Goa started around April 2006.