Chennai: Flood relief RTI pleas get rejected or go unaddressed

The state government, which promised to provide the compensation by January 2015, had failed to do so, singing the hopes of hundreds of victims.

Chennai: In a clear violation of the provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act, applications filed by activists and journalists to avail information about the distribution of financial assistance to victims of 2015 December floods are either rejected or met with silence.

The Public Information Officers of the district administration of Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts have failed to furnish required details, even after five months of filing the application.

The state government, which promised to provide the compensation by January 2015, had failed to do so, singing the hopes of hundreds of victims. Model code of conduct was termed as a reason for the delay and providing the relief was among the electoral promises of the politicians.

Gopalakrishnan's RTI applicationsGopalakrishnan’s RTI applications

No response from revenue department: An RTI application filed by this correspondent in August 2016 to the revenue department of Tamil Nadu government, requesting to provide details of relief provided to the flood affected people in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Cuddalore districts, as per revenue records was never responded to.

This correspondent had asked for district wise information on the number of beneficiaries and the amount disbursed by the government. Appeal does not move Tiruvallur administration:

In a similar case, application filed by RTI activist, V. Gopalakrishnan in September 2016 was rejected by Chennai and Kancheepuram district administrations, whereas Tiruvallur collectorate has not responded to the same, despite filing an appeal.

“Even though I had not received a reply from Public Information Officer, I got a reply from the appellate authority by post, fabricating it as a true copy dated October 14. They had not mentioned the section under which they had rejected my application, though they cited the questions being ‘extremely voluminous’ and pertaining to ‘third parties’,” said Gopalakrishnan.

Kancheepuram administration puts forth a wrong clause: An appeal to Kancheepuram district administration on October 29, 2016 was rejected, taking an inappropriate clause (Section 7(9)) of the RTI act.

Section-7 (9) is an enabling provision bestowing right on an applicant to seek information in different forms — hard copy, soft copy, printed copy, floppy, diskettes, tapes, video cassettes, films and photographs.

Under the act, information can be rejected only as per Section 8. Another application filed to the finance department of the secretariat was not provided with the information, even though it was forwarded to the commissioner of revenue administration.

“I had filed a petition to the Chief Minister cell, requesting to publish information on public domain for Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. It was rejected by Chennai collectorate stating that ‘the people enumerated by government officials during floods were sanctioned relief,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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