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About ashakantasharma

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    Can't Break the Silence
  • Birthday 10/12/1988

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    Patna, Bihar, India
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  1. Meghalaya's RTI Act in Braille is a hit

    Government of Meghalaya

    A training programme for the visually challenged in 2010 led to the idea of publishing the RTI Act
    in Braille; thanks to the enthusiasm shown by the participants. Ever since, it has helped this
    community to be pro-active in procuring information.

    In what can be termed as an 'inclusive initiative', the English booklet, 'Guide to the Right to Information
    Act 2005 for the Visually Impaired', has empowered hundreds of visually challenged citizens of
    Meghalaya to use the RTI Act for their personal grievances such as procurement of certificates required for education/jobs and soon.

    An initiative of the Legal Awareness Cell, Bethany Society and the Meghalaya Administrative Training
    Institute, the English book in all sections of the RTI Act. It also guides the reader on the procedure to file an RTI application and gives other tips.

    It all began in 2010, says Anita Kharpor, the former director of the Meghalaya Administration and
    Training Institute, who triggered off this novel initiative. Says she, way back in 2009 and 2010, we used
    to hold training programmes on human rights and other issues, for special groups. Once, we conducted a training programme for empowerment of the physically challenged and RTI was one of the topics, we found that they showed immense interest in the use of RTI. So, we invited them for a specific RTI workshop.

    Some of the visually challenged participants mentioned that they are unable to pro-actively use RTI as
    they are unable to read anything about it. Kharpor says she requested Carmo Northona, Executive Director of the Bethany Society, a prominent NGO, working for differently abled. Says she,'they transcribed the RTI Act in Braille, on our request. We printed 20 copies of the book. Since there was a further demand, we printed 100 more copies and they too were distributed, during the RTI workshops that we undertook in various districts'.

    Ever since the knowledge of the RTI Act, the visually challenged are filing RTI applications in Braille.
    The officers require a translator to understand the application and provide the required information.

    (Source: Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute)

  2. Revenue Department shares vital information

    Government of India, Department of Revenue

    Whether it is the business processes of GST, the 40,000 representations for the GST Mode law or
    the micro data of the Income Tax Department, the Revenue Department has uploaded it all in the
    public domain.

    In the Revenue Department, all the information is being systematically disclosed in Public Domain. It is
    now the normal practice to put all draft Laws and Rules in Public Domain before finalising them. For
    example, the business processes of GST was put in Public Domain since October 2015 and the GST
    Model Law is also in Public Domain since June 2016. The guidelines for Place of Effective Management (POEM) were also put in Public Domain. Almost every single Draft Policy is now placed in the Public Domain before taking a final view. This has helped the Revenue Department in effective policy formation.

    In response to the Draft GST Model Law, the Revenue Department has received 40,000 pages of
    representations, which are being looked into by a Committee of State and Central Government officers
    and based on these representations, decisions are being taken to make changes in the Draft Law. Policies on something as important as GST needs to be made after full public consultation so that there is no undue harassment to businesses subsequently, when the GST is implemented

    Another experiment was to publish micro data of Income Tax Department in terms of what is the break-up of income tax received from individuals, small businesses, companies and so on and also in terms of salary income, long-term capital gains, rental income, income from business and soon.

    The information in respect of how many people are paying income tax in the country and in which slab is also revealed. When this information was put in Public Domain, people for the first time came to know that in Assessment Year 2012-13, there are only 14 lakh individuals who are paying income tax in 30% slab which means that only 14 lakh individuals in the country have declared income more than Rs. 10 lakh. This information triggered a debate among people and the Revenue Department is hopeful that lot of good suggestions will emerge out of sharing of data about how to widen and deepen the income tax net in the country.

    One of the major pain-points of public grievance in the Income Tax Department is the issue of Tax
    Deducted at Source (TDS) mismatch. Because of automation, as the TDS deductor files a return (which is every quarter now), the details of TDS deducted in respected of every individual is reflected in Form 26 AS which can be viewed by anybody online. This has really facilitated a lot. Now, Revenue Department is working towards a system in which it should be possible for a deductee to get instant SMS as soon as the deductor has deposited TDS amount into Government Treasury. Imagine the comfort that people will have by being informed on SMS that their TDS has been credited to their account.

  3. Pensioners' life made easier.

    Government of India, Department of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare Government of India,

    Department of Electronics and Information Technology

    Use of Information Technology and biometric systems for submission of pension applications and
    life certificates makes life easier for pensioners.

    The Department of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare is responsible for formulation of policy and
    coordination of matters relating to pension policy and welfare of Central Government pensions.
    Approximately 40,000 employees retire from Central Civil establishments every year. The pension
    sanction process starts almost a year before the date of retirement and requires coordination amongst the administrative authorities, Pay and Accounts Offices, Directorate of Estates and the Banks. From a study of complaints received it was observed that a large number of retiring employees do not get their
    retirement benefits and the Pension Payment Order (PPO) in time. More importantly, the employees after retirement lose all contact with the Government set up and in case of delays, are likely to face harassment at various levels. To address this, the Department of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare has launched Bhavishya - an online tracking system for pension sanction and payment.

    The system allows online filing of application for pension by the retiring employees, encapsulates the
    Pension Rules required for processing pension cases and generates all forms necessary for finalizing
    pension cases as well as reports needed for monitoring by the Departments.

    Jeevan Pramaan
    Conventionally, pensioners are required to give a Life Certificate to the Pension Disbursing Authority in
    November, every year - either by presenting themselves before the Branch Manager or by means of a
    certificate issued by a Gazetted Officer or other designated authorities.

    In November, 2014, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology started Aadhaar-based
    biometric verification system "Jeevan Pramaan" to enable pensioners to submit a Digital Life Certificate (DLC) online. This facility is in addition to the other existing methods of submitting Life Certificate. It spares the pensioners and family pensioners the trouble of visiting pension disbursing agency or Gazetted/designated authority for submission of Life Certificates. Instead it enables the pensioner to submit the Life Certificate from personal computers and laptops or by visiting a conveniently located Common Service Centre. The system also ensures authenticity of pension and other payments. During November, 2015, about 4 lakh pensioners used 'Jeevan Pramaan' application to get their Life Certificates registered with their pension disbursing banks. Till date, about 16.8 lakh pensioners have used 'Jeevan Pramaan' application.

  4. Open days to inspect files: A sterling example of citizen empowerment

    Deepak Kumar Gupta Maharashtra

    Allocating one day, every week, to facilitate citizens to inspect files in several government offices
    in Maharashtra, connotes a significiant step towards transparency.

    Maharashtra is a forerunner in RTI use. In the city of Pune , inspection of files under RTI is widely used
    by activists and citizens. Their campaign to make the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), allocate one
    day every week, as open day for file inspection, was taken forward by the then State Information
    Commissioner, Vijay Kuvalekar, who directed the Municipal Commissioner to facilitate the same.
    The Commissioner ordered all departments of PMC to keep their offices open for inspection of files by
    citizens, between 3 pm and 5 pm, every Monday. The tradition continues ever since it was launched in
    2010. Any citizen can visit any department of PMC for procuring information and seeking photo copies of documents, during this specific time. The PMC initiative also inspired other public authorities to follow suit.

    The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), in 2011, went a step further as it opened its
    doors for two hours every day on all working days, between 3 pm and 5 pm. During this time, citizens can also meet civic officials, inspect on-going projects and take samples of the materials. The PCMC also directed its officials to update its records and make them available for public inspection under the RTI Act. If the officials fail to make the records available for public scrutiny, strict action would be taken
    against them. Thereafter, the Pune District Collector's office has also moved towards this transparency
    mode and every Friday is reserved for inspection of documents by citizens. In 2014 PWD Department
    (North Pune) also declared open day for citizens for file inspection.

    Recently, in Jalgaon, Deepak Kumar Gupta, an RTI user, wanted that the process to seek information from the administration should be made user-friendly and consume less energy, effort and time.
    Gupta initially made oral representations to the District Collector, Jalgaon and Sub Divisional Officer,
    Jalgaon to provide information required by the citizens without seeking any formal applications under the RTI Act, once a week. They asked him to give a written request. Accordingly, he wrote a letter to the District Collector requesting him to observe one day, every week, as RTI Day. Later on, he sent a letter with a similar request to the Sub Divisional Officer, Jalgaon.

    The District Collector issued an order announcing that every Friday would be observed in his office as
    'RTI Day' and information would be made available between 4 pm and 6 pm without filing any formal
    application under the RTI Act, 2005. The Sub Divisional Officer too issued a letter announcing that every Tuesday and Friday would be observed in his office as 'RTI Days' and information would be made readily available between 4 pm and 6 pm without filing anyformal application under the RTI Act.

  5. The unique RTI~On~Wheels Movement

    Government of Gujarat

    Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), an NGO, launched a multimedia vehicle in 2008 catted
    RTI-On-Wheets, which travels to deep interiors not only to spread awareness on RTI but also to
    help people fite RTI applications. Today, it has traversed through several States, including Jammu
    & Kashmir.

    Creating RTI awareness and empowering rural folk to use this citizen-friendly Act, is a big challenge. In a unique endeavour, the NGO, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel' (MAGP), launched a novel movement, RTIOn-Wheels, in 2008, which has created a social revolution of sorts, in the deepest pockets of not only Gujarat, but in several States, including Jammu & Kashmir.

    Developed with the support of Association for India's Development (AID), Pankti Jog, member of MAGP and the one who is in the driver's seat of this campaign, explains the concept. Says she, "We wanted to give RTI power in the hands of powerless. We wanted it to become a 'Voice' for the voiceless as early as possible. Wheels play a crucial role in the progress of the human race. So, an idea giving 'wheels' to RTI law emerged. Thus, we came up with the idea of developing a mobile legal ambulance in a multimedia vehicle."

    The vehicle is equipped with an LCD projector, screen, and computer with an internet connection,
    scanner, printer, copier and a small library. It is manned by two volunteers who screen films on RTI,
    distribute pamphlets and help people to file RTI applications. The vehicle has three flaps - two on the
    sides and one on the rear side, to enable distribution of leaflets, filing of applications, multimedia
    presentations and screening of films. Says Jog, "the vehicle opens up completely and can be converted into a moving theatre. It also has illuminated screens on the sides with slogans scrolling down". MAGP also travels through remote villages. Jog provides an insight into one such visit. Says she, "by late afternoon we reached Veerpur, a beautiful village at the foothills of Aravalli. The only challenge we have faced in entering small villages are the low hanging wires/cables, as we have solar panel fitted on the top of the bus. We parked the vehicle in a school compound as it was a Sunday. By the time we were making preparations, children had already started gathering around and were peeping from every window. We started motivational video songs for them. Youths spread a mat at a short distance from the vehicle. Over 40 persons were seated. One old lady with the help of a walking stick, approached us and asked, "Can I get injections for my body pain?" RTI-On-Wheels resembles an ambulance and is sometimes mistaken as a mobile clinic."

    RTI-On-Wheels has traversed through various states including Jammu & Kashmir, post 2014 floods.
    Report of India Together states: "Since the flood relief phase of October-December, people had asked
    several times for information on the surveys, the criteria for selection of beneficiaries and reasons for
    discrimination in compensation. Some sustained severe damages and got Rs. 3000 in compensation while people with pucca houses, which suffered relatively little damage got as much as Rs. 73,000."
    It was only after volunteers of the Jammu & Kashmir RTI movement organised the flood-affected people and gave them an orientation in the use of the Right to Information Act, that this came to light. Citizens got together and on 24 February, filed 200 applications for information. On the very next day, the information came into public domain.

    (Source: Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration ,Gujarat and Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel)

  6. Platform for Citizen Empowerments

    Vijay Kumbhar Maharashtra 2009-10

    RTI Katta (Katta is a Marathi word which means platform) is a meeting place in Pune's public
    garden, which empowers citizens through discussions and guidance in the use of RTI, every

    In an innovative and fun-loving approach, leading RTI user Vijay Kumbhar, who is the founder of Surajya Sangharsha Samiti, launched the 'RTI Katta' in 2014 at Pune's premier public garden, Chittaranjan Vatika. The objective of the 'RTI Katta' is not to preach about the RTI Act, says Kumbhar, "but to empower oneself through discussions amongst each other. It is an umbrella where the attendees get an insight into various issues that crop up during an informal chat. A person's query or problem is answered by several people which results in a healthy and relevant solution than one RTI expert providing the answer." States Kumbhar, "Although RTI is here for 10 long years, citizens are yet not aware and informed about this powerful Act. At the RTI Katta, we also encourage people to do file inspection under Section 4 of the RTI Act so that they can get information faster.

    There are some rules for forming RTI Katta's: "RTI Katta should be formed in such a public place where no official permission is required; a public garden is the best bet; the name of any individual or
    organisation should not be added wherever the RTI Katta is being formed; the meeting should be purely a discussion forum and there should be no one-sided speech; any attendee is welcome to seek advice on his RTI applications; any attendee is welcome to give his opinion, however he or she should ensure that he is not misguiding the person; no one should object or scorn if an attendee, new to the RTI Act asks an irrelevant question - he/she should be enlightened through this forum; there should be no exchange of money for either asking a query or answering it; since this forum is all about individual empowerment, no person should try to solve the problem of the other but en courage the individual to fight his/her own RTI battle."

    (Source: www.moneylife.in)

  7. An article in Dataquest magazine aptly elaborates this unique telephonic function, "the primary and
    mandatory requirement was to charge the RTI application fee (Rs.10) from the citizen without physical
    transaction of money. This was fulfilled with the help of BSNL premium rate services. Software was
    designed in consultation with officials who had been operating e-Janshikayat software from CM
    Secretariat. Under the overall supervision of the CM Secretariat, the state public sector undertaking
    Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation (BELTRON) was entrusted with the responsibility of
    operationalizing the RTI Facilitation Centre. Amendments were made by the state government to lower
    the fees for filing first and second appeal to Rs. 10 each, to enable e-transactions through phone calls to
    receive payments.'

  8. Dial to file an RTI and to report threats

    Government of Bihar

    Bihar has the distinction of being the first state in India to set tip 'Jaankari', a governmentinitiated call centre, which accepts RTI apptications, first and second appeals over the phone. It also has a helpline where citizens can report, if they have received threats as a result of using this transparency law. 'Jaankari' means 'information'. However, in Bihar, it goes beyond mere information, as it empowers a
    citizen to simply make a phone call, to file RTI applications and First as well as Second Appeals.
    'Jaankari' is a unique Bihar Government Initiative whereby ICT (Information, Communication and
    Technology) has been innovatively and effectively employed in making Right to Information Act more
    broad based and accessible to the common man by bridging the literacy and digital divide. It is a
    facilitation centre with phone-in services, which helps people to generate ss applications and get
    information under the RTI Act.

    The system has been designed in an "information at your doorstep" format whereby the hassles of physical movement by the common man have been removed. It works on the premium rate services of the BSNL - premium rate call number 155311 for RTI applications and 155310 as help line number on normal tariff. Charging of premium tariff for RTI application has been applied in order to fulfil the RTI Act requirement of payment of mandatory fees without physical transaction of money.

    Jaankari was set up in January 2007 and has been running successfully till date, generating applications under RTI for people all over Bihar. It has also been awarded 'Best e-Governance Initiative' by the Government of India. Thereafter, in 2009, Phase-ll of Jaankari was launched, which facilitates citizens to file RTI applications through e-mail. The link is provided in the website www.biharonline.gov.in The operation centre of Jaankari is in the premises of the State Secretariat in Patna, wherein a staff of six personnel take citizens' calls between 8 am and 8 pm. As per information from this centre, so far, 1,53,352 RTI applications, First Appeals and Second Appeals have been received.

    In a unique and citizen-sensitive step, a helpline was launched in 2009 to facilitate people to
    telephonically lodge complaints against government officials or any other individual for harassment or
    threats for using RTI. The helpline number is 0612-2219435. This service has helped in making RTI
    applicants feel safe. This Bihar Model is one of the best innovative practices of RTI Act.

    (Source: www.biharonline.gov.in)

  9. Creation of Information Committees

    Government of Chhattisgarh

    District Information. Committee in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh is a novel attempt at bringing together
    government personnel, eminent citizens, activists and college students to spread awareness about
    RTI Act.

    Bilaspur, the second most important district of Chhattisgarh pioneered the RTI Act through workshops and training programmes, ever since the implementation of the Act in 2005. It began with bureaucrats,
    activists, journalists and lawyers being empowered with the use of this transparency law, in the issue of fair price shops and food and supplies department.

    In September 2005, a three-day training programme resulted in the creation of a State level model for
    public awareness. The Administrative Training Academy, Chhattisgarh took great efforts and formed a
    group in Bilaspur district to carry out innovative practices. The 20-member group comprised government employees, journalists, lawyers, educationists, opinion leaders and activists.

    This has led to the concept of creation of District Information Committees at the district and the
    development block level. It was unanimously decided to make the District Collector the chief of the
    District Information Committee.

    Activities of District Information Committees are as follows:
    Guide RTI applicants to write easy-to-understand RTI applications
    Provide the names of APIOs, PIOs and AAs of various public authorities to the citizens
    Form Information Committees at the village level through Development Block level Committees and
    establish Co-ordination with District Information Committees as and when required
    Co-ordinate between Appellate Authority, Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Assistant Public
    Information Officers (APIOs) to spread awareness about RTI and share information on various issues
    District Level Committees hold meetings in every Development Block. The working plan of these
    committees is prepared and sent to the Administrative Academy, the nodal agency of the state. Public
    awareness was magnified through Rath Yatras and RTI camps. A periodical titled 'Soochna Adhikar
    Varta' is being published by the District Information Committee.

    Some more activities of the Information Committees are as follows:
    Imparting training to police personnel and employees of Zilla Parishad and Health Department on RTI
    Act. Co-ordinating and holding workshops for heads of departments of public authorities, colleges and
    school students and media persons.
    Imparting RTI training to NCC cadets and NSS volunteers.
    Conducting workshops at Nehru Yuva Kendra.
    Collecting and documenting success stories of RTI.

    (Source: Chhattisgarh Academy of Administration)

  10. Citizens can access information, 24x7

    Government of Odisha

    The award-winning online RTI-Central Monitoring Mechanism of the Odisha government is a
    one point access for all information under the RTI Act, at the click of a mouse. It also facilitates
    the online receipt, disposal and transfer of RTI Applications.

    Even though the Nodal Department of the Government of Odisha had issued many directives to all public authorities to implement the Right to Information Act, the compliance from the authorities was not up to the mark. The Odisha Information Commission was struggling to find a way to ensure effective implementation of the RTI in the State.

    While disposing a complaint (case no.1452/2008) the Odisha Information Commission instructed the
    State Government to put in place a robust monitoring mechanism to enforce the mandatory provisions
    envisaged in Section 4 and Section 25 of the RTI Act, 2005. The Department of Information and Public
    Relations, which is the Nodal Department for implementation of the Act in the State, evolved the RTI
    Central Monitoring Mechanism as an appropriate mechanism to fully comply with the RTI Act, 2005 and track the progress in a single network.

    The RTI-CMM (www.rtiorissa.gov.in) is a web-based centralised database system hosted on web server provided by NIC, Government of India. It became fully operational from 1 October 2010. Its objective is to provide single point access to all RTI related information catering to Section - 4, 6, 7 and Section-25 of RTI Act 2005 in a uniform manner and to provide the required information to citizens.
    Its salient features include:
    IT Intervention in Implementing the Act and Rules
    One Point Information
    Uniform Presentation of Information in prescribed manual
    Open Public opinion forum ensuring valid and updated data and information leading to a transparent
    Online Receipt, Disposal and Transfer of RTI Applications
    Paperless Office.
    Citizens can access the services through the Internet; from office, home, Internet cafes as also from RTI Kiosk Centres and RTI Clinics (Lok Soochna Kendra). They play the role of facilitation centre for
    dissemination of information at grass root level, at the Common Service Centre (Jana Seva Kendra) and at the e-Seva Centre.

    Presently, the Public Authorities are not only updating their proactive disclosures but also maintaining
    information register, cash register and appeal register in their RTI-CMM public authority account.
    Besides, they are making use of the RTI-CMM to prepare an annual report and forwarding it to the nodal department. Since its implementation, the RTI-CMM has connected more than 2000 offices including 25 Collector offices, 100 Urban Local Bodies, 80 Tehsils, 100 Blocks and 20 District Information & Public Relations Offices into this single network.

    The RTI-CMM has received the 'Best IT Service Provider Award' on 11 February 2010 for notable
    innovations in implementing the RTI Act from Cll-Bhubaneswar Chapter and Government of Odisha. The World Bank has highly appreciated this novel endeavour. RTI-CMM has made a mark in South-Asia bagging the e-INDIA Citizen Choice Award 2010 and Best User Friendly Website award from India eGov in the field of e-governance and lCT.

    (Source: Gopabandhu Academy of Administration and Jayashree Mohanty, Luminous Infoways,

  11. Power and energy of Transparency

    Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy

    The Department of Atomic Energy has adopted measures to improve transparency and
    dissemination of information of its programmes and in the fields of research and devolpment.

    The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been engaged in the development of nuclear power
    technology, applications of radiation technologies in the fields of agriculture, medicine, industry and basic research. The thrust of the activities of the Department relate to the three stage nuclear power programme and in the research & development fields. The Department has been ensuring that all information in these two important areas of activities is made available to all stake holders. Several initiatives towards voluntary self-disclosure, have been taken:

    Power generation related activities
    Two PSUs under the Department, viz., Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and
    Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidhyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), mandated with the design, construction,
    maintenance and production of electricity through nuclear power plants, have been making available
    Information regarding power generation levels from existing reactors, installed capacity, power plants
    under construction and future programmes. Safety related information giving adequate details of the safety standards being followed; mechanism for monitoring and the remedies available are also made public. Acts, Laws and rules relating to atomic energy statutes governing the regulation of safety and the rules there under to support the operation of the statutes for implementation of the safety regulations, FAQs regarding some important aspects of power generation and safety of the power plants, and the people in the vicinity of the nuclear power plants, radiation effects and important provisions in the Acts and Rules under the Statutes are all freely available to stakeholders.
    Personnel related information covering recruitment notifications, career opportunities and voluntary
    disclosure of the results of the recruitment process, tender notifications for procurement of stores and
    equipment and construction and maintenance activities initiatives relating to neighbourhood
    development and corporate social responsibility activities are other measures adopted for a citizen
    friendly regime in the department.

    Research & Development related activities
    The Constituent Units, Industrial Units and Aided Institutions under the Department undertake research and development activities in cutting-edge areas and basic research related to atomic energy. In order to highlight the continuing activities, these organisations have taken steps for information dissemination in the following areas through their respective websites and periodic publications:

    Societal benefits and health care, rural development, benefits to industry, use of spin off technologies such as radiation technologies in agriculture, food preservation, water purification, etc.

    Technologies for fuel reprocessing

    Technologies for radioactive waste management

    On-going activities relating to development of advanced nuclear reactors

    Environment monitoring mechanisms

    Management of nuclear/radiation disaster in pursuance of the various instructions issued by the
    Government of India and the decisions of Central Information Commission.

    The Department carries out periodic reviews of the contents of the information provided through different media. The Department and all the constituent units, public sector undertakings, and aided institutions under its administrative control endeavour to adhere to the instructions from time to time in letter and spirit.

  12. Web portals and Mobile Apps for transparency

    Government of India, Ministry of Power

    Be it rural electrification, digital initiatives in urban areas, IT web/mobile based platform to
    provide status of Intra State Transmission Projects or financial turnaround of power distribution
    companies, transparency is the keynote for the functioning of the Ministry of Power.

    The Ministry of Power and its organisations have embarked upon a series of digital interventions to
    enhance efficiency in terms of information dissemination and customer convenience. Some of the
    initiatives are:

    GARV (Grameen Vidyutikaran App)
    This platform displays the "Real Time electrification Status of Unelectrified (UE) Villages in the country
    on a web portal/mobile app. As an extension to this, GARV-2 will be launched in October 2016 to
    monitor the access to village households.

    GARV acts as a powerful monitoring tool to meet the targets of village electrification set by Government of India. The entire information of status of electrification is monitored on 12 crucial milestones and shared in public domain. GARV is serving as a powerful tool in ensuring transparency in Rural Electrification works in the country.

    URJA (Urban Jyoti Abhiyan)
    URJA is a digital initiative to place before the people, the performance of distribution utilities (Discoms)
    in IT enabled towns, with a vision to generate a sense of positive competition amongst the stakeholders and urge all concerned for better performance in consumer centric parameters. The parameters covered by URJA pertain to resolution of consumer complaints, release of new power connections, e-payments made, ATC loss indices of onboard towns etc.

    UJALA (Unnat Jyoti)
    UJALA scheme aims to promote efficient use of energy at the residential level; enhance the awareness of consumers about the efficacy of using energy efficient appliances and aggregating demand to reduce the high initial costs thus facilitating higher uptake of LED lights by residential users. Keeping in view the above objectives, UJALA app provides real time status of LED distribution along with locations of its distribution centres in the country.

    TARANG (Transmission App for real time monitoring)
    TARANG is an IT web/mobile based platform to provide status of both Inter and Intra State Transmission Projects in the country. This platform also shows the prospective upcoming Inter State as well as Intra State Transmission Projects along with NITs being floated by different Transmission Utilities Pan India for better participation of bidders. TARANG will also include status of stalled/delayed transmission systems in country which would enable the stakeholders viz. Ministry of Power, State Governments, all private sector Transmission developers and PSUs like Power Grid etc. to work for expeditious completion of such projects.

    UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna)
    UDAY is a scheme for operational and financial turnaround of electricity distribution companies of India
    (DISCOMs) initiated by the Government of India with the intent to bring down their ATC losses to 15%
    and reduce gap between cost of power and revenue realized by DISCOMS to Zero in the next 3-4 years. UDAY web portal/app will place performance vis a vis target status of all crucial operational/ financial parameters for DISCOMS in public domain and hence act as a powerful monitoring tool. Availability of State power department/ Discom health cards in public domain will bring more accountability and transparency in the working of Discoms.

    VIDYUT PRAVAH mobile app provides highlights of the power availability in the country on real time
    basis. It also provides data pertaining to market price of power from power exchange, value of current all India demand in GW and all India and State shortage including peak hour and total energy shortage. The real time data and comparison with previous day/year data is also available. Data from multiple sources, including the States and Power Exchanges, has been made available through a single portal for convenience of all. This application will make State governments more accountable and will empower citizens to demand 24x7 power from the States.

    DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Prices) e-Biddlng Portal
    In order to bring uniformity and transparency in power procurement by the DISCOMs and also to promote competition in electricity sector, 'DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) e-Bidding Portal' was launched by Hon. Minster of State (l/C) for Power, Coal, NRE & Mines on 12 April 2016 initially for procurement of short term power (i.e. up to one year) and has been extended on 17 August 2016 for procurement of medium term power.

    This e-Reverse auction process for competitive procurement is expected to result in overall reduction of cost of procurement of power thereby significantly benefitting the ultimate consumers. This will also
    provide a common e-bidding platform with e-Reverse Auction, provide nation -wide power procurement
    to a wider network including the stakeholders in power sector and to bring uniformity in the process of
    power procurement. The portal will be implemented for Power Banking and long term procurement of
    power also.

  13. e-Auction for transparency in coal sector.

    Government of India, Ministry of Coal

    As a sequel to the Supreme Court order of 2014 which canceled allocation of 204 coal block citing
    arbitrariness, the coal ministry conducted an e-auction and there after has brought in several
    measures to ensure transparency in its governance.

    Coal Mines auction/ allocations
    The Supreme Court by an order, on 24 September, 2014, cancelled allocation of 204 coal blocks on the ground that the mechanism for allocation of coal blocks was not transparent and in fact arbitrary.
    The Government promulgated Coal Mine (Special Provisions) Ordinance 2014, within 27 days of the
    judgement, for allocation of these 204 cancelled coal mines to ensure continuity in coal mining operations and production of coal thereby minimizing adverse impact on core sectors such as steel, cement and power utilities and also to ensure smooth transfer of right, title and interests in the mine along with its land and other associated mining infrastructure to the new allottees to be selected through 'auction' or 'allotment' to Government companies, as the case may be.

    Subsequently, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill 2015 was notified as an Act on 30 March 2015,
    providing for allocation of coal mines by way of 'auction' to a company or their Joint Venture and
    'allotment' to a Government company or their JV, without auction.

    Auction was conducted on an electronic platform through a transparent mechanism i.e. Forward e-Auction for non-regulated sector and Reverse-cum-Forward e-Auction for regulated sector. The online bidding process comprised two stages - Stage I - e-tendering system and Stage II - e-auctioning system. Till date, a total of 83 coal mines (76 coal mines for specified end users and 07 coal mines for sale of coal) have been allocated.

    Auction of Coal Linkages
    The Ministry of Coal also proposes to provide coal linkages through auction. The proposed auction of
    coal linkages is transparent, and creates a level playing field. It ensures that all market participants have a fair chance to secure the coal linkage, irrespective of their size. The auction methodology leads to discovery of price through a market mechanism; it does not seek to maximize revenue. The policy on auction of linkages of non-regulated sector has been approved by CCEA and has been circulated on 15 September 2016 to all concerned for implementation.

    Third Party Sampling: A Concern For Quality
    An independent Third Party Agency has been empanelled by Central Institute for Mining and Fuel
    Research (CIMFR) at loading end on behalf of both the power plant (consumer) and the coal
    companies (supplier). It involves enlisting third party agencies for certifying quality of coal dispatch.
    This new system has commenced on 1 January 2016. This is a measure to increase trust between the
    coal companies and the power plants regarding quality of coal supplied.

    CIMFR has signed tripartite MoUs covering 304 MT coal supply to power sector unit for third party
    sampling. It is also in the process of signing tripartite agreements with all the Government and private
    sector power plants. The coal sampling by CIMFR has already started and for the balance
    Government Sector plants, it is expected to be started within October 2016. By November 2016 it is
    expected that independent Third Party sampling coverage shall be available for all Power Plants.
    Measures Adopted For Greater Transparency

    A new Web Portal related to "Coal Allocation Monitoring System" (CAMS) for Small and Medium
    sector consumers of Coal India Limited (CIL) has been launched to bring transparency in the process
    of allocation and utilization of coal.

    Online coal project monitoring portal (e CPMP) has been launched to interact with all the
    stakeholders to resolve issues and avoid delay. All the coal companies are updating structural
    information on the portal.

    Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADRM) has been introduced for resolution of disputes
    between CIL (and its subsidiaries) and the State Electricity Agencies through ADRM forum with the
    condition that they will accept the decision of the ADRM Committee and will not go to any other
    Judicial forum. So far, 8 meetings were held and 6 disputes have been resolved.

  14. Information at a click of the mouse

    Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment

    Ministry of Labour and Emptoyment's initiative in making various services provided by the
    Employees' Provident Fund Organization. (EPFO) transparent and user friendly has increased
    customer satisfaction.

    The Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), which is the world's premier social security
    provider organisation, is focusing its efforts and energies in bringing about transformative changes in its service standards. It has recently launched a series of steps to bolster the confidence of its members and beneficiaries and to rise to their expectations. The prominent amongst them are:
    Universal Account Number (UAN) has been issued to all the existing members of the organisation. The
    UAN allows about five crore members to have a single account number for the entire service period and ensures portability on change of employment. The UAN seeded with Aadhaar further enables unique identification of the members.

    Claims settlement process has been streamlined with the help of Information Technology. More than
    80% of the claims are being settled within 10 days. Many of the offices are now settling claims within
    three days though the statute mandates that the claims be settled within 20 days.

    Benefits are being paid electronically to more than 93% beneficiaries. Almost 54 lakh pensioners are
    being paid their pensions electronically (through Core Banking System- CBS) every month. EPFO has
    won the Financial Inclusion & Payment Systems award 2013 for its work in online payment of Provident Fund and Pension benefits.

    SMS based claims-tracking system and account balance enquiry is through real-time MIS on claims
    settlement and updating of member accounts is now available on public portal (www.epfindia.gov.in)
    Members can directly view and print their PF accounts statement through the member portal. Earlier
    this information was distributed manually through their employers.

    A search facility to locate establishments registered with EPFO anywhere in India and their compliance
    status is available on the public portal. The compliance status is updated immediately after establishment submits due returns and remittances.

    For updating Annual Accounts, batch processing facility has been introduced from the current financial
    year. All member accounts have been updated as on 1 April, 2016.

    EPFO has a very robust e-enabled grievance management portal. The record of grievance disposal in
    EPFO is probably the best in Government sector in India. During the period from 1 January to 31 August, 2016, about 1,67,745 grievances were received in the portal and 1,63,535 were disposed of, leaving a balance of 4,210 cases.

    EPFO is working towards centralisation of its Information Technology based applications, database,
    portals and operations which would usher in the next level of reforms in the organisation. The centralised operations would facilitate the organisation to introduce on line services such as like on line submission and processing of claims, real time double entry accounting systems, real time portability of accounts and seamless services for members. Under the centralised operations interfaces with service providers and employers for various kinds of services such as mobile applications, ATM based services, payment and collection systems of banks and other institutions, Aadhaar based authentication and service delivery would be made possible.

  15. Paving the way for openness

    Government of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

    Initiatives taken by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to provide access to information
    and to promote transparency has restated in interactive governance.

    In the Road as well as the Transport Sector, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has initiated
    several measures for the convenience of citizens as well as for private agencies that collaborate with it
    for various projects. Following are some of the measures:

    DigiLocker:- In Transport Sector steps like linking of Driving License and Registration certificate with
    DigiLocker scheme has been initiated Ministry. DigiLocker is a key initiative under Digital India, the
    Indian Government's flagship at providing citizens a shareable private space on a public cloud and
    making all documents/certificates available on this cloud. Indian citizens who sign up for a DigiLocker
    account get a dedicated cloud storage space that is linked to their Aadhaar (UIDAI) number. This measure will go a long way in helping citizens avoid harassment faced in carrying relevant documents while driving the vehicles.

    ePace:- ePace (Projects Appraisal & Continuing Enhancements) is an online tool to monitor and improve the progress of works at the click of a button. This is in Public Domain and all the information therein is accessible to the general public. The initiative captures the static and dynamic information for all the projects executed by MoRTH, NHAI and NHIDCL. The system aims at capturing project information which would help in monitoring and accelerating the pace of the projects. In the long run this would help develop over the top applications through crowd sourcing wherein project photographs/videos can be uploaded to collate and compare the official information.

    INAM-Pro: INAM-Pro (Platform for Infrastructure and Materials Providers) is a web based application
    for Infrastructure and Materials Providers and is set up as a common platform for Infrastructure material providers viz. Cement/Steel Companies, Infrastructure providers, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and other stakeholders. It facilitates contractors and cement/steel buyers engaged in executing the Central/State funded Roads and Highways/Bridge construction projects to place cement/steel orders online with the registered cement companies offering cement/steel at competitive rates in the vicinity of project execution locations. Cement/Steel companies are facilitated to update their offered stock on the portal with the prices agreed upon with MoRTH. The application is in Public Domain, giving a host of information to general public also.

    RAMS:- This Ministry is in the process of creating a Road Asset Management System (RAMS) which is a strategic and systematic process of maintaining, upgrading, and operating road assets effectively.
    Information collected and made available through this system will be useful for the agencies responsible for road development and maintenance, investors, as well as road users. The software is interfaced with Google Earth for providing additional information to road users.

    HAS:- Highway Advisory Service (HAS) is aimed at providing real time information to highway
    commuters on the condition of road and traffic density is under implementation on a pilot basis.

    VAHAN & SARATHI:- MoRTH has taken up a Transport Mission Mode Project for creation of a
    National Register and State Register of driving licenses and registration certificates of motor vehicles.
    Two flagship applications Vahan (for Vehicle Registration) and Sarathi (for Driving License) have been
    developed and implemented through National Informatics Centre. Hundred percent automation of 1000+ RTOs all across the country has been achieved. Almost all states and UTs of the country are using versions of these applications developed by NIC. Almost 19.2 crore Vehicle records and 9.2 crore License records are available in its central repository (National Registry). The consolidated data in State and National Registry act as the base for a large number of online citizen-centric applications and information services.

    Under such initiatives, ease of governance is being achieved making the working of this Ministry
    transparent and citizen centric.

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