RTI continues to be a joke for Govt deptts in Kashmir

Rampant denial of info reported

Irfan Tramboo
Srinagar, Feb 27: Government departments are repeatedly making fun of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Kashmir as one after the other department is either denying information on the flimsy ground or does not respond in a time-bound manner.
In one more such fresh instance of dilly-dallying tactics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Department has not furnished the information sought by an applicant from Ganderbal, while the application kept on being transferred from one place to another.
One Syed Adil Rashid had submitted an RTI application to the Public Information Officer (PIO) LG’s Secretariat in Jammu on December 23 last year, which had then transferred the application to the PIO Urban Development Department Civil Secretariat, Jammu on December 30.
Until February 10, the applicant received no information as was sought by him. After that, the applicant filed the First Appeal to the Urban Development Department.
After the First Appeal, one of the officials from the Urban Development Department contacted the applicant and told him that the communication in this regard has been sent to the concerned departments.
Ironically, the PIO Urban Development Department has sent a copy of the communication on Feb 7 this year to the Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation even as the information has been sought regarding the various spending by the Municipal Committee, Ganderbal-on which the SMC has no control whatsoever. A copy of the communication has also been sent to the Director ULB which has not so far bothered to reply in this regard.
More so, the Urban Development Department had also written to the PIO, SMC, and MC Ganderbal with a copy to the applicant as well as the PIO LG’s Secretariat. “I never received the copy of that communication so far,” the applicant told Excelsior.
The applicant also visited the MC Ganderbal in person where he was told that they have not received any such communication, while the SMC has told him that it does not fall under their jurisdiction.
When this reporter contacted the officials of the Urban Development Department, they said that they have forwarded the communication after the First Appeal to the Director ULB and that the applicant must get it confirmed from there.
All in all, an RTI application filed almost 3 months ago has not been returned to and neither the departments have bothered to furnish the information that was sought by the applicant in December last year.
The applicant had sought information on various aspects from the MC Ganderbal such as details of purchases made during COVID-19 along with the details of the revenue of mobile towers with all the relevant details. He had also sought details of all kinds of building permissions given by the MC Ganderbal with documented evidence.
The applicant had also sought details of the Housing for All & Individuals House Hold Latrine scheme with the details of beneficiaries including the date of various instalments.
Earlier, a similar case of denial of information, as well as the delaying the process was reported by Excelsior wherein the Doodpathri Development Authority (DDA), did not provide the details sought by an applicant siting shortage of manpower as an excuse.