‘RTI activities’ reach a new high

CREATING AWARENESS: RTI activists interacting with people in Mandya taluk during the padayatra.

CREATING AWARENESS: RTI activists interacting with people in Mandya taluk during the padayatra.  

M. Raghuram

Audit, walk and awareness camps to mark the third anniversary of RTI Act

Bangalore: The Right to Information (RTI) Act, which came into force three years ago, has gained a youth dimension with a number of activities, including a unique RTI audit by the Public Affairs Centre and the RTI march by the Vivekananda Youth Movement, being carried out in the State.

In a bid to involve youth in civic participation and governance, the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) brought together college students here to throw light on the success level of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The Act envisages bringing about good governance and transparency in public administration.

The RTI audit conducted by a group of students over the last fortnight has revealed that only 10 per cent of Public Information Officials (PIOs) have knowledge of the Act and its powers while 78 per cent of them had average knowledge of various parameters associated with the awareness of Act.

As much as 12 per cent of the respondents were ignorant of the Act.

According to the joint director of PAC, Manjunath Sadashiva, the study has indicated that the local government agencies received the largest number of applications every month.

The study has put the number of monthly receipt of petitions at 107. As many as 52 departments were approached by the students but only 41 had responded.

The study has also revealed that PIOs found that 32 per cent of the RTI applications were irrelevant and confusing. As much as 24 per cent of the PIOs felt several questions were aimed at harassing the officials and only to seek information for personal reasons without any public interest.

According to director of PAC Gopakumar Thampi, the “key findings in the audit was to shed light on its implementation and to give the youth a hands-on experience by actively participating on governance related issues”.

In another youth initiative, the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement has taken up padayatra for spreading the message of RTI Act in the villages. The 350-km padayatra began from Saragur in Heggadadevanakote taluk in Mysore district on September 4 to reach Bangalore on October 2 covering five districts, Chamarajanagar, Mandya, Mysore, Ramanagaram and Bangalore.

A group of 30 RTI activists led by R. Balasubramaniam, which has covered 109 villages, told The Hindu on Monday that, “We originally wanted to cover only 100 villages but now it looks like we will cover not less than 125 villages before we arrive in Bangalore. We have interacted with over 2,00,000 people.”

“The padayatra has been designed on the lines of the Dandi March, with the sole objective of spreading awareness against corruption,” he added.

The padayatra will culminate at the Gandhi Square on M.G. Road here and will be addressed by former Lokayukta N. Venkatachala and litterateur G.S. Shivarudrappa.

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