Info online for transparency

NEW DELHI MAY 9. Planning to seek information about the functioning of a department, working of any project or the process of awarding work or tenders? No need to visit offices and file applications to get the relevant information. All this is now available at a click of the mouse. The Delhi Government's new initiative, under the Right to Information Act, has made all this possible.

Taking yet another step towards bringing the administration closer to the people, the State Government has asked all departments and competent authorities to open e-mail accounts to enable citizens to file their applications for seeking information online.

This has been done to facilitate the citizens and avoid their making the rounds of various departments and offices for the purpose. Apart from the departments under the Delhi Government, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has also been asked to open such e-mail accounts under various heads.

And catering to the increasing demands of departments, the Delhi Government is even thinking of providing financial assistance for purchase of computers and installing software for the purpose.. Under the new e-mail service, those seeking information need file applications in the form available online. Apart from stating clearly the information needed and to which department it pertains, they would have to give details about the bank draft which has to accompany the application. The Government has stipulated a fee of Rs. 50 for simple information and Rs. 500 for commercial information.

The concerned department would then swing into action and after receiving the application and encashment of the draft. It would send the information through e- mail within a stipulated period... The departments and competent authorities have been asked to file compliance report with the State Information Council on the 10th of every month.

According to the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, who is also Chairperson of the Council, instructions have been given not to refuse acceptance of forms even if given intentionally to the wrong authority. At the same time, in case of any problem, the departments have been asked to avail ofthe services of members of the State Council or Resident Welfare Associations wherever feasible.

"Majority of the queries pertain to the Delhi Vidyut Board and the Land and Building Department. We are trying to further streamline the whole system to ensure complete transparency in the submission of information sought,'' she added.

Ms. Dikshit conceded that the feedback from the public indicated that applications were being entertained reluctantly by some departments. In addition, a number of visits need to be made to seek information which was not in the interest of a transparent administration.

The Chief Minister disclosed that her Government was planning to extend a one-time grant to departments, autonomous bodies, undertakings and MCD for purchase of software and computers to handle the increasing rush of applications under the Delhi Right to Information Act.

As part of the further reforms process, the Chief Minister indicated that there could be further decentralisation of competent authorities to make accessibility more visible. Also emphasis is being laid on giving full publicity to the measures taken to make information available to the citizens of the Capital.

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