JKSPDC doesn’t have mechanism to maintain vital record of power projects

SIC reprimands Corpn for wrong application of RTI provisions
Officers warned of remaining cautious in future

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 2: Unbelievable it may sound but it is a fact that Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) doesn’t have any mechanism to maintain vital record like Memorandum of Understandings, Environment Impact Assessment studies and lease agreements of the power projects owned and operated by it in different parts of the State.
This came to the fore during the second appeal before the Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission filed by RTI activist after being denied information about the power projects by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) of the Power Development Corporation.
As per the case before the Information Commission, the appellant Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool had filed RTI application before the PIO of the Corporation seeking details about eleven power projects like copies of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government, Environment Impact Assessment studies along with public hearing, lease agreements, name of the committees which approved the contracts and copies of the tenders invited for these power projects.
However, the PIO of the Corporation transferred the RTI application to different Chief Engineers under Section 6(3) of the J&K RTI Act, 2009 with the request to furnish the information directly to the appellant thereby establishing that Corporation doesn’t have any mechanism to maintain record of the projects owned, operated and maintained by it across the Jammu and Kashmir.
Virtually creating embarrassment for the Corporation in this regard, the Chief Engineers of the Leh, Kargil and Ganderbal furnished the information in respect of name of the power projects along with copies of the MoU signed by the Government with each power company to the applicant and in respect of rest of the points, these Chief Engineers informed the applicant that such information can be had from the Corporate Office of the State Power Development Corporation only.
Aggrieved by the transfer of RTI application to different Chief Engineers, the appellant filed first appeal with the First Appellate Authority of the Corporation submitting that the action of the PIO in transferring the RTI application to other PIOs in the same public authority was complete misuse of Section 6(3) of the J&K RTI Act. However, the First Appellate Authority failed to dispose of the first appeal leading to filing of second appeal before the Information Commission.
After going through the contents of the RTI application filed by the appellant, the Commission observed, “transfer of RTI application to different Chief Engineers was a wrong application of the provisions of Section 6(3) of the J&K RTI Act as all the Chief Engineers to whom the RTI request was transferred were working under the control of the same public authority”.
“Besides, the information about the EIA, lease agreement, tender documents floated etc could have been available with the Corporate Office of the Corporation only”, the Commission further observed.
Initially, the Commission found it appropriate to initiate penalty proceedings against the PIO for denying information to the appellant within the period specified under Section 7(1) of the J&K RTI Act and also for not complying with the directions given by the Commission in its interim order but keeping in view explanation tendered by the PIO the Commission dropped the proposed proceedings.
However, the Commission has warned the PIO to remain cautious in future and dispose of the RTI requests promptly and within the period of 30 days at the maximum. It was only on the directions of the Information Commissioner Mohammad Ashraf Mir that the PIO placed before the Commission information sought by the appellant, which otherwise could have been directly given to the appellant in response to his RTI application in case proper record was being maintained in the Corporate Office of the Corporation.
While disposing of the appeal, the Commission directed the PIO to send the information to the appellant through a special messenger and in case the appellant wants more information or any clarification he may either have inspection of records or specify the information to the PIO through a written communication.


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