Coimbatore

Corporation prevaricates RTI activist’s attempt to get information on construction of a building

From passing on to colleagues the responsibility of replying to a Right to Information (RTI) petition to say that a court case prevented them from furnishing the information, the Coimbatore Corporation officials, it appears, have prevaricated attempts to get information about a building that the civic body constructed on Ramachandra Road, R.S. Puram, and leased out to a private player for running the Amma IAS Academy.

The RTI petitioner S.P. Thiyagarajan had on May 11, 2019 had sought from the City Engineer the copy of the resolution that the Special Officer had passed paving way for construction of the building, works committee resolution, the Commissioner’s proceedings, a copy of the estimate prepared for the construction, the bid document of the successful bidder, area of the building and approval, if any, from the Local Planning Authority.

Mr. Thiyagarajan said he had sought the details to see if there was any basis to his suspicion that the Corporation had not followed the rules in constructing the building.

In response to the May 11 petition, the City Engineer wrote to the Assistant Commissioner, West Zone, saying that since it was the details concerned a building under his jurisdiction, he would do well have the RTI petition replied.

Almost a month later, on June 10, the Assistant Commissioner replied that he could not provide replies to questions related to the Special Officer's resolution, the building area and the Commissioner's resolution for having it over to the private party because they were related to the contractor who constructed the building and the pendency of a case before the Madras High Court.

As for the question on the location of the office of the sanitary inspector for Wards 23 and 24, the Assistant Commissioner replied that the office functioned very much out of the building for the question related to the approval granted by the Local Planning Authority, he said that since it concerned the Corporation's Town Planning wing, he was redirecting the RTI petition for the reply of the official concerned.

On June 13, the Town Planning wing wrote back to the Assistant Commissioner stating that as it was the engineering wing in the West Zone that was concerned with the estimation, planning and execution for the building in question and as the Town Planning wing did not receive any papers regarding the building, the West Zone engineering wing would be in a better position to reply to the question in the RTI petition.

A day after the receipt of the copy of the correspondence from the Town Planning wing to the West Zone engineering wing, Mr. Thiyagarajan preferred an appeal before the first appellate authority, the Deputy Commissioner of the Coimbatore Corporation.

Mr. Thiyagarajan said the Deputy Commissioner’s reply was no different from that of the West Zone Assistant Commissioner in that the officer had only reiterated the reasons for not furnishing the information he had sought for.

He said that the replies from the Corporation’s showed that they wanted to prevaricate and alleged that it was to cover up the wrong doings in the construction and lease of the building. His suspicion had only gained strength as the Corporation had placed the ‘Ward 23 and 24 Sanitary Inspector's office’ board only after he had filed the RTI.

He also said that the court case that the Corporation officials referred to had nothing to do with them as they were in no way connected with the case. Further, the case that the officials talked about was only about giving information that the Corporation held in fiduciary capacity and nothing to with his RTI petition.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:00:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/corporation-prevaricates-rti-activists-attempt-to-get-information-on-construction-of-a-building/article28527575.ece

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