Tamil Nadu pollution control agency has no electronic records

August 5th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 5 (IANS) In the age of rapid computerization, one department of the Tamil Nadu government has publicly admitted it maintains no electronic records, prompting an activist to seek information on its computerization protocol via the right to information (RTI) route. An RTI application filed by Nityanand Jayaraman of the Corporate Accountability Desk, had asked for certain information from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

As he could not get it, the petitioner again used the RTI Act and demanded that the board display a variety of information on the Internet and in its libraries.

But, the board’s member secretary and appellate authority (RTI) R. Ramachandran told the Tamil Nadu Information Commission: “The TNPCB does not maintain any electronic copies of documents such as permits and authorizations issued, or inspection reports and public hearing minutes.”

“We use the computers as typewriters. We delete the files after taking printouts,” he told the Commission.

The petitioner has now filed yet another application - seeking information on the board’s computerization protocol to verify its declaration.

“I hope the board is lying about deleting the files,” he said.

“Here’s a government agency that is actively de-computerising. If it is speaking the truth, the board’s action represent a monumental waste of public resources,” said Jayaraman.

The Information Commission has now issued an order to the board to provide up-to-date information such as license to construct and operate issued by it, inspection reports on polluting industries and minutes of environmental public hearings at the library in the board’s head office here.

The commission criticised the TNPCB, saying: “The ‘obligation’ on the part of the public authority has not been fulfilled.”

It also directed the board to maintain electronic copies of all its records from the date of its order, and to display these on the Internet.

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