The recent report of the CSE regarding the use of high levels of pesticides in soft drinks has now prompted a group of well-known names from various fields to go the RTI route.
On Friday, several activists including Prof Yashpal (former chairman UGC), Aruna Roy (RTI activist), Arundhati Roy, Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Sandeep Pande (both Magsaysay winners) were present at the inauguration of the RTI kiosk in Jantar Mantar.
Prof Yashpal and Aruna Roy proceeded to file requests for information under the RTI Act to several government agencies on the occasion.
The questions addressed to the Central Ground Water Board, Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Food Processing, covered a gamut of issues, including how much water is being extracted by the soft drink bottling plants, whether the ministries had knowledge of sludge containing various chemicals in discharge of several soft drinks as well as if the government knew the amount of caffeine and aspartame being used in the colas.
Activists file RTI on cola row- The Times of India
A Chennai based consumer activist has been waging a battle for more than six months to get information from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, under the Right To Information Act.
The petitioner, Dharmesh Shah of Besant Nagar, Chennai submitted his application to the NEERI, a Central Government Undertaking, on June 14, 2006, seeking information pertaining to the projects undertaken by the institute between 1998 and 2006.
According to the petitioner, the NEERI failed to furnish the information much beyond the prescribed period of 30 days, following which he made an appeal to the Appellate Authority in the same organisation.
Only later, the NEERI chose to reply, but that too, refusing to provide the information sought for.
The institute also claimed that it had received the application only on September 1, while the application was actually submitted in June.
In its reply, the NEERI said, "Any information pertaining to sponsored/consultancy projects is of confidential nature and is not to be disclosed from NE ERI's side." Aggrieved, the petitioner moved the Central Information Commission seeking to direct the NEERI to furnish the information he sought for under the RTI Act.
"The NEERI denied me information quoting some rule of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). But neither the public information officer of the NEERI nor the CSIR could clarify or explain the rule to me. It is a grave violation of the RTI Act," Dharmesh Shah said in his appeal before the Central Information Commission. The appeal is to yet to be heard by the Commission.
Source: The New Indian Express, Chennai Edition (Dec.19,2006)