SHAMELESS & INCOMPETENT Municipal Corporation of Mumbai
Times of India, Page no. 03, 24th November, Mumbai Edition.
Man told to pay up for moving RTI
Mumbai: Dadar resident Milind S Mulay was in for a shock when he got a reply from BMC executive engineer V R Koranne, saying that he will have to bear travelling charges of Rs 60 for taking out photocopies under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
Mulay had asked for copies of some documents from G North ward and the ward office had forwarded this RTI query to the BMC’s building proposal department. “The department said I would have to pay not only the expenses incurred for the photocopies, but also for travelling charges for taking out the copies, in gross violation of the Act,’’ Mulay said.
This is not a one-off case. Increasingly, the Public Information Officer (PIO) and appellate authorities of various municipal corporations in Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan have been stone-walling information giving flimsy reasons. The applicants now have to approach the state information commission (SIC) for final redressal.
An RTI appeal is filed with the first appellate authority when the information is not provided within 30 days by the public information officer of the same department. But a random inspection of the appeals received by various departments shows that the appellate authorities do not bother to reply on time nor do they maintain a register of the RTI hearings.
For instance, the number of appeals received by various departments of the BMC and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) show that over 50% of the appeals have been disposed of after the mandatory 30 days. While BMC’s executive health officer disposed of 52% appeals after the mandatory 30-day period, the TMC’s deputy municipal commissioner (HQ) disposed of more than 61% of the appeals after the mandatory period.
“Similarly, the assistant director of the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), town planning, disposed of 29% of the appeals after the stipulated period,’’ said Milind S Mulay who filed the RTI query on the issue.
The SIC is today saddled with over 16,000 second appeals and due to this huge backlog, second appeals that are over one-and-a-half years old are yet to be heard by the commission. “The appellate authority should provide the information without any delay. This will reduce the number of second appeals pending and applicants will not have to wait for months together,’’ Suresh Joshi, state chief information commissioner said.