Dug up roads? Delhi residents could try RTI

August 28th, 2008 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) For Divyajyoti Jaipuriar, commuting had become a daily nightmare as a road next to his north Delhi house had been dug up and left unattended for nine months. But it took just nine days for the same civic authorities to repair it - thanks to the Right to Information (RTI) Act.”The road near my house was dug up in October last year for some drainage work. However, after the work was done, the road was left as it is, causing problems to residents,” Jaipuriar, a high court lawyer who resides in Vijay Nagar, told IANS.

Finally, he filed an application under the RTI Act asking the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to give him details about the repair work carried out.

“To my amazement, within nine days of my filing the application, the road was repaired perfectly. This is the power of RTI,” he said. Interestingly, the lawyer has till date not received any answer on his application.

According to data procured by the NGO Kabir, more than 46,000 RTI applications were filed at various government departments in the capital from October 2005 to December 2007. These departments included Delhi Police and housing agency DDA.

“This was the figure up to December 2007. But now with people becoming aware of RTI, I suppose the number of people using RTI must have gone up,” said Neeraj, who works with Kabir.

In a similar case, a resident of northeast Delhi filed an RTI application asking for the details of a road, which was being made by the civic agency.

“In June this year, MCD was constructing a road near my office in the Sunder Nagri area but the construction agency was not doing it properly. I then filed several applications asking about the details of work carried out and for them to let me inspect the road,” said Ramasre.

“They were using bricks while making the road, which should not be done,” he added.

Within a few days, Ramasre started receiving calls from MCD officers, the representative of the local councillor and even the contractor who was making the road.

“They kept asking me what I wanted and why I had filed the RTI application. They even told me that that they would do anything I wanted if I took back my application,” Ramasre added.

“But I just wanted the road to be made properly and I told them that,” he said.

“Within a few days, the road was constructed perfectly. RTI is a great tool and it really helps a common man to take make the government accountable,” Ramasre said.

Asked about the common man resorting to using RTI to get work done, Magsaysay award winning RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said: “This is true because as soon as people file the RTI, responsibility gets fixed and officers end up doing the job which otherwise they never do.”

Kejriwal however stressed the need for information commissioners using the penal provisions of the RTI act more actively.

(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at mayank.a@ians.in)

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