‘Give plantation data in a week’

The Madhya Pradesh Information Commission has directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to furnish information within a week to a person who sought details under the Right to Information Act regarding plantation of 50 lakh saplings in the Satna circle in 2016-17.

“Despite the direction of the Commission on May 24 to provide information to the applicant, the circle had made it clear that it was holding back information sought under the RTI Act that was against the law,” said Information Commissioner Rahul Singh. The Commission had issued a notice to Rajiv Mishra, Public Information Officer and the Conservator of Forests, Satna Circle, asking him why a penalty of ₹25,000 should not be imposed and disciplinary action initiated against him.

On January 30, 2017, Virendra Singh Parihar, an advocate, had filed the application seeking documents giving range-wise break-up of the saplings planted in the circle, copies of cashbooks and vouchers, and details of fertilizers used for plantation.

Appealing to the Commission after being denied information, he had claimed that the PIO had quashed his application on the grounds that he had sought information in more than one area, and the circle claimed it hadn’t received the earlier direction of the Commission to divulge the information.

“The department was trying to conceal information which makes up its working plan which is submitted to the Central Forest Department and a committee of the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Singh

“Moreover according to sections 8(C)(D) of the Act, the application can’t be quashed on the ground mentioned,” he added.

In the previous direction, the Commission had warned the PIO that action under section 20 (1) and 20 (2) would taken against him if information was not provided. Now, it has deemed the PCCF the PIO as “officials at the lower level were trying all their means to conceal the information”.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 10:17:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/give-plantation-data-in-a-week/article28828269.ece

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