Temporary facility may start from courtroom; panel says full-fledged service to start after govt gives nod for more space
It seems it will be long before the much-awaited video-conferencing facility takes off at the Punjab State Information Commission. The equipment has been gathering dust for the last eight months,as the panel is awaiting the governments nod to more space in the existing building to set up the facility.
It is,however,learnt that the state government may first study the feasibility of the demand. Sources said it would be prudent if the commission started the facility from one of its courtrooms,as the approval,even if granted,would not come soon.
The full commission,in its recent meeting,also decided that the facility might be operationalised as a temporary measure from the existing courtroom,though its optimum use will be possible only when an independent room is made available.
On April 21 this year,a proposal to take the fourth floor of the Sector-17 building in Chandigarh,where the panels office is situated,was sent to the Department of Information Technology,Punjab,for approval. The issue was also taken up in a meeting held with the chief secretary on August 16,where it was decided that till the commission got an alternative building,approval be accorded for taking the fourth floor on rent.
The landlord of the building had sent a notice in October,saying if the floor was not hired by November 30,the rent would be increased to Rs 50 per sq ft from Rs 32 per sq ft,which was earlier quoted by him.
On November 11,the commission sent another communication to the government,but it is yet to receive a reply.
When the commission had mooted the idea of video-conferencing last year and sought space,the state wrote to the Government of India,which conveyed that the panels requirements should be asked first.
Experts,meanwhile,said video-conferencing did not require much infrastructure,except an LCD screen,internet lines and a camera.
The necessary infrastructure for the facility,which was to start from the border districts of Amritsar,Gurdaspur and Ferozepur,has been provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). It was planned that deputy commissioners offices,which also have the required infrastructure set up by the NIC,would be used to execute it.
Earlier,the commission used to compile cases from one district and send a commissioner for hearings. This practice,however,did not last long.
RTI Activists Federation,Punjab,president H C Arora said: Video-conferencing is not the ultimate solution. It is not practical. How will a commissioner see the documents that have been provided to the complainant? It will only lead to more adjournments. The panel should resume circle sittings,whereby a commissioner goes to a district and hears cases of nearby areas. This practice is being followed by the Central Information Commission,too.
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