With maximum RTI queries, MCD services stand in question

June 21st, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Shweta Srinivasan
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) receives the maximum number of Right to Information (RTI) queries among all Delhi government departments - a fact that puts the quality of its services into question, say activists.

Said to be the largest civic body in India and second only to Tokyo’s in terms of geographical area, the MCD has received a whopping 21,095 RTI applications (as of June 19) since 2005, putting it far ahead of the other 120 Delhi government departments.

“We are the largest civic agency in India and second in the world. We are a big agency and it is natural that so many queries pop up pertaining to the corporation’s services,” MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur told IANS.

The MCD handles 96 percent of the capital’s land area and also caters to 98 percent of its population. From littering to roads with potholes to choked drains, the agency deals with a magnitude of civic issues.

But RTI activists have raised doubts about its ability to deliver services.

“Delivering services is the MCD’s duty. But people are not happy - the higher number of RTI applications shows discontent. Saying they are a large agency and tend to slip sometimes shows there is something wrong with their attitude in functioning,” RTI activist Manish Sisodia told IANS.

Sisodia, who has filed over 30 applications regarding the condition of roads, school education and medical facilities provided by MCD, said, “The RTI applications are actually residents’ attempts to find accountability when they find the shoddy delivery of civic services.

“MCD officials think they are kings and doing their work is a favour they do.”

According to the Delhi government’s RTI statistics (http://delhigovt.nic.in/rti), a total of 93,794 applications have been received since the RTI Act came into force Oct 12, 2005. The largest share is of MCD, which also has 1,449 pending applications with public information officers in various departments.

“Under my organisation we have filed about nine applications on encroachment issues - we got no information and penalties were imposed on MCD deputy commissioners by the chief information commissioner. I personally tried filing another one but it was rejected,” RTI activist Rakesh Aggarwal and founder of the NGO Nyaya Bhoomi told IANS.

“The way they (MCD officials) handle these applications is pathetic! There is nothing to boast about if you are getting so many applications - they aren’t doing their job properly and most of their information officers don’t even know how to deal with applications,” Aggarwal added.

One RTI applicant, who sought information about his job entitlement after his father who worked in the MCD as a clerk passed away, was extremely dejected.

“I am from a very poor family. I got a vague, non-committal response from the RTI. Now my case is lying with the labour court - god knows how long it will take there,” said Haricharan, the applicant.

However, MCD’s Mathur claimed: “It is not possible that any RTI query had gone unanswered or with inadequate

information.”

“All information petitions are cleared within the 30-day deadline.”

Meanwhile, Delhi Police with 11,080 RTI applications received the second largest share. The state’s education department and the cooperative societies figured third and fourth on the list with 8,305 applications and 5,844 applications respectively.

The transport department with 1,544 applications is “struggling to keep up” with its small load, Aggarwal said.

“The situation in the transport department is getting from bad to worse. Hundreds of applications are pending with them - so much so that they are returning fresh applications,” Aggarwal said.

(Shweta Srinivasan can be contacted at shweta.s@ians.in)

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