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Citizens wield their RTI power

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As reported by Koride Mahesh of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 14 June 2008:

Citizens wield their RTI power-Hyderabad-Cities-The Times of India


Citizens wield their RTI power


HYDERABAD: Armed with the Right to Information (RTI) Act, citizens are posing peculiar questions to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at an average of 10 applications per day.


The questions range from appointments, service matters, building penalisation scheme etc. It's not the city folk but people from districts and even other states are demanding information.


Consider this. P Anand, a resident of Ashok Nagar in the city sought information on last November's appointment of additional commissioner (heritage) J Kedareshwari. This included whether she was posted in GHMC through an open advertisement and why her appointment was done in haste and the qualifications and eligibility for the post. He even sought to know whether GHMC knew about allegations against her when she was Director of Archaeology and Museums.


To this, the GHMC replied that she was posted to municipal administration by the state government and it is utilising her services as they are needed for the city. They were not aware of any allegations against her, they added.


Anil Sarma of Trimulgherry wanted to know whether his developer had applied for regularisation of an unauthorised construction in a building on Road No 13 of Banjara Hills. The GHMC replied that no such application was filed.


Surprisingly, a few months ago the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation sought information under the RTI Act for records pertaining to the area. Aurangabad was part of the Nizam state before independence. As there were no records available with the corporation, the GHMC referred the question to the state central library. Not only individuals, but associations too are on a questioning spree. Ashoka Lake View Residency-Owners' Welfare Association in Kundanbagh questioned how unauthorised construction on the 8th floor of the complex was assessed for payment of property tax. It also sought ownership documents and title deeds of the property. Well, it's activists too who are in the forefront.


Mantri Shyam Prasad, Secretary of AP Human Rights Council, Visakhapatnam has sent a list of 50 questions on various issues including the city development plan, leased lands, burial grounds and how many religious bodies in the city were allotted land in the city.


An attender, who was working in the Mayor's peshi in 1987, was suspended on various allegations. He applied under the RTI Act seeking his service book details. But the corporation officials refused to give details under the RTI Act as they are more than 20-years-old.


That's citizens' power at work.

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