Using The Right To Information At The Pune City Corporation Office

Adventures Of An RTI ExplorerFor several years I have been planning to use the Right To Information (RTI) to get information and facts on things that bother me in the city. I read up on the subject, talked with friends, blogged about it, but never managed to take the most important step, that of using the right and asking for information. I even explored every possibility in which I could get information without having to visit the Pune Corporation office. Unfortunately that’s not possible. If you want information you have to work hard for it.

So I picked a Saturday when I did not have much else planned. Picked some RTI form samples from the net and filled up three forms asking for information from the PMC. The first form asked information about footpaths / pavements in Pune. The second about parking provisions that commercial buildings need to make as per corporation rules and the third asking for information about the PMC’s e-governance initiatives. I will write details of the information I sought and the response I got, when I do get the information. For the time being I will stick to the submitting the form part. A friend of mine who has been complaining for years about the stray pig menace in Shivteerth Nagar, Kothrud accompanied me hoping to submit his complaint to the relevant department and to finally rid his locality of the pigs.

(Cont…Click here for the entire article). Published as part of my fortnightly column for the Maharashtra Herald

Blame It On The IT Wallas

Blame It On The IT wallas

“IT walon ney sab mehanga kar diya hai” said the travel agent after charging me a hefty sum for a Volvo bus ticket. Apparently it was peak season and any bus destination that was remotely interesting to the IT walas in Pune was selling at many times the normal rate. The agent was of the chatty kind and after inquiring about things ranging from the origins of my family to the reason for the trip, he said that the common Puneite won’t pay any amount that he asked for, but the IT walas blow money like crazy and will pay thousands without any hesitation. So naturally everything has become expensive.

IT people sure have made life difficult for most others. Few other industries can match the pay packets or the glamour associated with IT today. Take any product or service that would interest an IT professional and you would see that the price has at least doubled every 2 to 3 years …(Continued in the scanned article image on the left)

Using Right To Information Act To Get Better FootPaths for Pune

Anybody who has been to Pune would know that the Pune Municipal Corporation is not a very competent body. The city is going down rapidly and hardly anything is being done to stop the slide.

I have been reading up on the Right to Information for quite some time and now intend to use it to get some answers on an important issue, Footpaths. I have written about this before “Pune Corporation – The Art of Converting Public Parking Spaces Into Private Property” and “Footpaths are for pedestrians and not illegal chaat stalls

All over the city, builders are converting footpaths into parking places or approach roads for their buildings. I intend to get the following info under the Right To Information Act

  1. Details of new footpaths created in the last 2 years
  2. Details of repairs done to existing footpaths in the last 2 years
  3. Want to know if it is legal for footpaths to be paved by the builder instead of the PMC
  4. Has any action been taken against any building / builder for paving a public footpath without PMC permission?
  5. What action has been taken against PMC staff for failure in stopping encroachment and misuse of footpaths?
  6. Are footpaths designed so as to prevent any vehicle parking or their use as approach roads to buildings / parking areas?
  7. Which roads will get new footpaths in 2007?
  8. Is PMC bound to develop and maintain footpaths for all new roads in the city?

I might rephrase things a bit. But this is more or less the info I would be ask for.

I went through Right To Information Info at –

  1. Consumer Forum Procedure for request of Information
  2. Parivartan – How To Apply
  3. PMC Egovpmc – RTI Officers
  4. Model application Format for obtaining information under “RTI Act, 2005”
  5. Right To Information Act
  6. Right To Information FAQ
  7. Right To Information Campaign Workbook

While most of my queries have been answered. I still could not find a satisfying answer to –

  • How much to pay as RTI fees and what’s the easiest way to pay them?
  • None of the docs state clearly what is the amount I need to pay. They state that I will have to pay Rs 25 + photocopying/ postage on actuals. If this amount is going to change from case to case, it means I have to personally go to the PMC office and ask the bureaucrat what amount I need to pay. I would then have to pay it by standing in queues and filling more forms.
  • This I think is a big flaw as it eliminates the option of me getting things done by post and without having to suffer the irritations that inevitably follow a visit to a govt. office.
  • There’s no provision for electronic money transfer. It might seems elitist to talk of electronic transfers in a poor country, but the act should provide for it.

Ideally I should be able to make an online payment for a flat fee of say Rs 100. Then fill up a form on a central RTI site. The site should be well aware of the Public Information officer (PIO) to contact. The PIO should get anemail and I should get a confirmation.

Looking at the government’s e-awareness record, e-Right to Information is unlikely to happen in the near future, so I guess I should start planning my visit to the PMC office.

Any suggestions on how I could simplify the process or make better use of my application, are most welcome.