CR demands Rs 81,000 for copy of info sought under RTI

Central Railway’s reply to his RTI query stumped Ravindra Vabale,who was asked to pay Rs 1,000 per page of the desired information

Written by PRASAD JOSHI | Published: August 14, 2013 1:39 am

Central Railway’s reply to his RTI query stumped Ravindra

Vabale,who was asked to pay Rs 1,000 per page of the desired information. Slamming the Railways,RTI activists said Vabale should be charged not more than Rs 2 per page.

Vabale,who hails from neighbouring Ahmednagar district,had sought copies of reservation charts of Mumbai-Howrah-Gitanjali Express (train number 12859) and Mumbai CST-Howrah SF Express (train number 12869) for May 26. He was told to pay Rs 1,000 per page,amounting to Rs 81,000 for 81 copies,he claimed. “I do not understand how can they can ask for such a huge amount. I am not going to pay,” he said. Vabale,however,said he was thinking of paying for information on one bogie.

While railway authorities attributed the information charges to a December 2011 circular,RTI activists have questioned the rationale behind the provisions,describing it as a “deliberate attempt” to dodge RTI queries by “playing with words”.

Vabale said replying to his application,the then CR Chief Commercial Manager and Public Information Officer (PIO) M A Kamble in a letter dated July 24 asked him to pay Rs 81,000 through demand draft to get the desired reservation chart running into 81 pages.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar accused CR of issuing the December 2011 circular by modifying previous circulars only to evade RTI queries. “A scrutiny of CR’s recent circulars shows that the fee of Rs 750 was for the verification of the reservation chart not for its copy,as mentioned in the 2007 circular. Also,the money was supposed to be charged from the government departments. A 2010 circular also mentioned that the uniform fee of Rs 750 will be charged per PNR (passenger name record) for verifying journey details. But in 2011,“verification of PNR” was replaced by “copy of reservation chart”,and “government departments” was replaced by “any person”,said Kumbhar.

Another activist Vivek Velankar said railway authorities are abusing RTI Act by charging exorbitant fees for furnishing information by introducing unjust changes in rules and regulations.

CR’s Chief Commercial Manager and PIO Dhananjay Naik,who has assumed charge recently,expressed ignorance about the provisions of December 2011 circular. “I need to go through the circular before making any comment,” he said.

Man sought info to get clue on cousin’s death

Ravindra Vabale said he was seeking the reservation charts of Gitanjali Express to get clues on the suspicious death of his cousin Swapnil Surase. “My brother was a doctor and was working in Mumbai. He was scheduled to board Gitanjali Express to reach Nashik. His mutilated body was found near Lasalgaon on May 27. Police don’t have any leads and I thought the reservation chart could help identify suspects who could have boarded the train along with my brother,” he said.

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