While the issue of implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act remains a thorn for authorities, the Act is apparently helping citizens in solving their problems rather than garnering information. During the course of a hearing conducted by the Pune State Information Commissioner (SIC), it recently came to light that water supply related problems of a citizen was solved, thanks to RTI.
Anandrao Mazgaonkar, a resident of Kolhapur, had applied with the water supply department of Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) asking details about the water supply problem faced by him. The application dated back to 2011 and he had gone for his first appeal with the deputy commissioner of KMC. His appeals had gone unanswered which led him to file a second appeal with the Pune SIC.
During the course of hearing, the public information officer and the appellate authority of the civic body were present, while the applicant himself was absent. Before the start of the hearing, the information officer submitted a letter written by Mazgaonkar declaring his solution to the problem.
In the letter dated August 2014, Mazgaonkar declared that he was withdrawing the second appeal. “Although I had filed a second appeal
in 2011, my problem about water supply has been solved. So I wish to withdraw the appeal,” the letter read. In view of the submission, the SIC went on to dismiss the appeal.
This case, once again highlights the way applicants are increasingly using RTI to solve their problems rather than garner information. SIC officials said that one of the many uses of RTI for applicants is to solve their problems.
“We have seen during appeals how applicants speak about how a single RTI application solved their problem. Such examples
are galore in civic bodies as well as in departments like public distribution system(PDS), agriculture, etc. Departments like these which directly affect people’s lives tend to be more proactive in solving problems than giving information,” an official said.
Officials said that the modus operandi in such cases was to file RTI applications to enquire about the delay or failure to provide certain services. Once the issue is solved, the applicant withdraws his or her second appeal rather than pursue it further.